Sun Post Herald: Aladdin’s Offers Healthy Meals That Are Easy On The Wallet

Looking to eat healthier? Looking to eat more vegetarian meals or eat more adventurously? Need something quick and easy on your wallet? Consider the award winning Aladdin’s Eatery, which has garnered honors in all these categories and then some. Despite the tempting array of cheesecakes and other desserts greeting customers at the front of the store, your health is of vital interest to Aladdin’s founder Fady Chamoun. Aladdin’s forgoes trans-fats for olive oil, for example, and offers dozens of vegetarian and vegan items. Having gotten his start with the Little Caesar’s pizza franchise in Michigan, Chamoun felt the American public was ready for food that was fast, fresh, nutritious, and a little more adventurous. He knew that his family’s native Lebanese cuisine embodied all of these qualities. Since opening the original Aladdin’s in Lakewood in 1994, Chamoun has expanded his restaurant franchise to 29 locations all over the United States. The hummos ($5.95) is an excellent way to start your meal. It will easily serve two to four as an appetizer. Try it with a side of house-made hot sauce (60 cents). Parents looking to break out of the processed chicken nugget and French fry rut will be glad to see kids’ menu choices like grilled chicken tenders with fresh fruit ($4.95) or the grilled cheddar cheese pita with fresh fruit ($4.75). Our fruit was ripe and freshly cut, a mixture of kid-friendly banana, melon, and grapes. Aladdin’s various “pitzas” also make great appetizers or light entrees. They are like little Lebanese pizzas, with pita bread and olive oil instead of pizza dough and tomato sauce. Try the refreshing Greek pitza ($6.45) with feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and kalamata olives, dusted with za’ater, an herb mixture popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. There are salads and salad pockets (served in pita bread) aplenty, including the fattoush, with toasted pita chips ($6.55), and fruit and nut salad ($5.95) that could serve as a light dessert. Those looking for something heartier will enjoy one of the delicious rolled pita sandwiches, such as the Aladdin’s lamb rolled with tomatoes, onions, turnips, and tahini-yogurt dressing ($6.95). Even more substantial are the Mediterranean plates ($12.95). Diners have their choice of marinated and grilled lamb or beef tenderloin served for a cinnamon-scented rice pilaf studded with pine nuts. The equally hearty mujadara plate ($9.75) is a vegan alternative. This Lebanese specialty is served at room temperature and features delicately seasoned lentils topped with a mixture of chipped salad vegetables dressed with a light olive oil and lemon vinaigrette. Bypass the soda for one of Aladdin’s made-to-order raw juices or fruit and yogurt smoothies. Finally, reward yourself for eating so healthy with a piece of freshly made authentic baklava ($1.24-$1.50 each). Aladdin’s is available for dine-in, carry-out, and catering. Aladdin’s Eatery in Middleburg Heights is located at 18334 E. Bagley Road. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10.p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.. Call (440 243-0800. Other Cleveland area locations include Cleveland heights (12477 Cedar Road), Hudson (44 Park Lane), Independence (6901 Rockside Road), Lakewood (14536 Detroit Ave.), Mayfield Village (775 Som Center Road) and Westlake (151 Crocker Park Blvd).