Everybody, Just Lighten Up!
A change of the season should herald at least a mini menu makeover. It’s time to lighten up the hearty fare of winter. Likely, two of the most important groups to consider when menu massaging are Baby Boomers and Millennials. Baby Boomers have or soon will reach retirement age. They want to remain healthy to enjoy their leisure years. They are seeking menus that provide healthful options such as low fat, low calorie, low carbohydrates, low sugar, heart healthy and gluten-free.
Millennials are interested in maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well, and they also are very enlightened about the foods they prefer. “Organic,” “natural,” “locally grown,” “sustainable” and “grass-fed” are all buzzwords striking a responsive chord with them. Of course, the trick is to lighten up your menu fare without sacrificing flavor and enjoyment, and to find growers and farmers you can trust. All of this may be accomplished with a little help from your RFS sales consultant, who knows the territory.
The fairest of the fare at eateries across the country
Operators across the nation are lightening up and becoming good stewards of the environment in many ways. Panera, considered one of the most innovative chains in the nation, offers an ancient grain, arugula and chicken salad with just 200 calories and seven grams of fat.
- Le Pain Quotidien began life as a bakery in Brussels, Belgium. Today, cafes can be found in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Connecticut and Philadelphia. The menu features zucchini noodle pad thai at just 90 calories. It is also made with red peppers, cabbage, arugula, toasted cashews, cilantro and sesame-cashew dressing. The avocado toast here is called a “tartine,” flavored with chia seeds and olive oil and arranged open-faced on organic whole-wheat sourdough. Guests may opt to add an organic hard-boiled egg or smoked salmon.
- Upscale Etch in downtown Nashville presents an entrée called vegetarian katafi, comprised of pastrami-spiced Portobello mushrooms, rutabaga sofrito, Fontina cheese, carrot caraway sauce, pickled cherry mustard seeds, Sauerbraten sauce, beet molasses and apple nage. The cool thing about a recipe such as this is the vegetables can change with the seasons.
- Sweetgreen, the environmentally conscientious destination for simple, seasonal, healthy food, has scores of stores in the United States. The company is offering organic steelhead trout as a sustainable alternative to salmon.
Here are a few other ideas to lighten up springtime menus:
- Use ground chicken or turkey in meatloaf, and add extra minced vegetables.
- Substitute riced cauliflower for regular rice.
- Make zucchini and other vegetable “pasta” with a spiralizer.
- Offer fish or shrimp tacos as an alternative to meat.
- Develop stir-fry dishes around vegetables that can change seasonally.
- Serve oven-roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes as an alternative to fries.
- Top wafer-thin pizza crust with gourmet vegetables such as artichokes, heirloom tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, shaved garlic and a sprinkling of fine cheese.
- Create a nostalgic rhubarb/strawberry dessert with oatmeal/nut topping.