Foraging is undoubtedly an interesting way to make the most of local produce. With modern-day concern over genetically modified produce, the spotlight on oversized vegetables, heavy with water and low on flavor, has caused many culinary enthusiasts to doubt the quality of supermarket produce from industrial farms. Chefs of top restaurants, such as René Redzepi of Noma, use foraging as a means of getting the freshest and most authentic local produce possible. Foraging has opened up a world of spices, herbs, and wild edibles overlooked by industrial farms and unavailable in stores. Beach peas, Indian cucumber, colorful mushrooms in various shapes and sizes, wild asparagus, berries, herbs such as mint, tarragon, and chives, and even hay, edible flowers, and fish are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fresh ingredients that can be found while foraging for food. Despite the concentrated flavor and incomparably fresh produce that can be found in wild edibles, foraging is not right for all restaurant menus.
Is Foraging for Food Right for Your Restaurant Menus?
Foraging for food is a time consuming and sometimes dangerous business, which can be extremely rewarding for certain venues. Restaurant menus that rely on edible wild plants are likely to change every week, since foraging for food can bring surprising finds to the kitchen, but inconsistently. Another factor to consider is the time investment of foraging for food. Searching for and gathering wild edibles requires time and patience, but so does learning the trade. Before starting to forage, chefs, or any individual for that matter, will have to take the time to study the area and its plants thoroughly, making contact with local experts in order to receive advice about wild edibles. Foraging without proper knowledge of plants is a dangerous business. Edible mushrooms and berries are notorious for having wild, poison relatives, yet the list of poison plants spreads to wild peas and herbs as well. By gathering knowledge of local produce, conversing with local professionals familiar with the regional plants, and always being extremely cautious, foragers
Indian food belongs on menus beyond Indian restaurants. The use of spices such as cumin, cardamom, coriander, turmeric, garlic, and ginger benefits both the taste and health properties of Indian food recipes. Dishes such as Chicken Tikka and Steamed Rice with Curry can easily be incorporated into fast casual venues, high-class restaurants, and every type of venue in between. In addition to delicious dishes, the Indian culinary culture embraces vegetarianism and therefore the ethnic food of the region provides many vegetarian meal ideas and Indian vegetarian recipes. Many of these dishes can be easily altered to be relatively healthy, especially since there is a heavy focus of vegetables and herbs.
Those that cannot be made healthy without losing their charm, such
as fried samosas, hold their own as delicious dishes on restaurant menus.
Indian Vegetarian Recipes
Hindu is a major religion in India. Some sects of the religion practice vegetarianism, a custom which has made its way into much of ethnic food of Indian culture. Indian vegetarian recipes therefore provide food businesses with ready-made vegetarian meal ideas. The rich spices and seasonings that are used in many Indian food recipes make it easy to spice up vegetarian and vegan dishes, persuading even meat-eating customers to order the dishes. The heavy use of spices also gives many Indian dishes health
Artificial sweeteners have taken the place of sugar as we know it in sodas, baked goods, yogurts, coffee drinks, and more. As of May, the obesity rate in the United States was estimated to be about 27.7%. The use of artificial sweeteners is hoped to help reduce sugar intake and hopefully lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Today, with nutrition facts becoming a more central focus on restaurant menus, food businesses may be tempted into experimenting with these sugar substitutes, swapping them in place of sugar in salad dressings, dipping sauces, and other foods. However, customers interested in following a sugar free diet are not usually customers looking for healthy restaurant eating in general. Customers practicing healthy restaurant eating habits may actually be less inclined to order dishes with sugar alternatives, due to studies and suspicions that have given artificial sweeteners bad reputations. And though the nutrition facts may look attractive by using sugar alternatives, businesses should keep in mind the negative effects that artificial sweeteners can have on health and taste.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad or Good?
Aside from their undeniable popularity in sugar packet holders, artificial sweeteners have yet to widely grace restaurants and restaurant menus. Big coffee shop and bakery chains do offer some sugar free options, but most venues have yet to catch on. Frankly, sugar alternatives’ aftertastes and lack of ability to caramelize, make them come short for the culinary world. Sugar does more for the culinary world than just effect taste. It also helps the chemical processes in the kitchen. It helps yeast produce carbon dioxide to make dough rise, thickens jams, and caramelizes, among other things. Sugar alternatives do not participate in these cooking processes the way sugar does. Therefore, before the biological impacts of sugar alternatives on health and taste are considered, these culinary implications of sugar alternatives should be acknowledged.
Synthetic sugar alternatives, such as saccharin and aspartame, are created to sit on the taste bud receptors that sense sweet tastes. Yet the majority of these sugar alternatives are much sweeter than sugar, ranging from one to 8,000
Tapioca is the starch of cassava root, a plant indigenous to parts of South America, Asia, and Africa. It comes in many different forms including tapioca balls, tapioca flour, and tapioca starch, creating many possibilities for incorporation into restaurant menus. Its neutral flavor makes it ideal for use for its thickening properties, without the drawback of undesired flavor added to dishes. Tapioca is a carbohydrate, without many other nutritional properties. Its main uses in the culinary world stem from its textural, gluten-free, and tasteless properties.
Tapioca balls are most often associated with bubble tea and tapioca pudding. They come in a variety of sizes and colors, though they are usually opaque white. Tapioca pearls are formed by pushing tapioca starch through a sieve at high pressure. The globules are sold dried and rehydrated and softened by cooking in large amounts of water or other types of liquid. Since tapioca pearls have a very neutral taste and color, a tapioca recipe usually relies on taking on the flavor and color of the fluid in which the pearls are cooked. Tapioca balls can be used in a variety of interesting dishes for restaurant menus. However, their use should be minimized or written clearly under the dish description, since a large percentage of people have an aversion to their texture. Besides classic tapioca pudding, tapioca balls can be used in a variety of other tapioca recipe options. They can be cooked in coconut milk and served with mango and/or caramelized pineapple cubes, or cooked in water with a bit cream and topped with vanilla-rum caramelized bananas. On the savory side, they can be cooked in reduced, concentrated chicken stock and served on a unique serving spoon as canapés, or hors d’oeuvres, similar to the “caviar” of molecular gastronomy. Tapioca recipe options go beyond tapioca pearls, incorporating tapioca flour, or the cassava root itself, into
Beets are extremely versatile, healthy, aesthetic, and delicious vegetables that are gaining popularity and importance in culinary trends and in the industry. Restaurant menus can incorporate beets in many ways to draw customers looking for healthy restaurant eating options, as well as those interested in gourmet food rich in flavor. The root has shown evidence of playing a role in preventing heart disease and preventing cancer, placing it in the spotlight for nutrition facts. However, praise for the vegetable goes beyond the health benefits of beets. Its sweet taste and the multiple preparation methods that suit it make it a great ingredient to add on restaurant menus for more than just its nutrition facts.
Beets on Restaurant Menus
Beets can have many different purposes on restaurant menus and inspire a wide range of restaurant menu ideas to boost restaurant nutrition: from salads to dessert, juices to pastas. Their rich colors make beets a great option for adding a pop of color to dishes, or for use as a natural food coloring for many dishes, such as pasta dough and mashed vegetables. In baking, beets are a great way to sweeten desserts while keeping attractive nutrition facts. They can be blended and added to a variety of chocolate desserts in low quantities, or in higher quantities to create a red-velvet-like color. Blended beets can also be used to prepare sauces and spreads such as horseradish or beet ketchup. Beets add color, taste, and nutrients such as vitamin C,
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 400,000 deaths per year are connected to high blood pressure. Salt has been shown to have a direct relationship to elevated blood pressure, making it a critical ingredient to acknowledge when planning diets for the best nutrition facts possible. Despite the detrimental effects of salt, salt is also a necessary compound for the body. The FDA recommends consuming no more than one teaspoon of salt per day, though most people go well past this limit. Processed foods and restaurant menus are notorious sources of unusually high sodium levels in food. The more a person adds salt to his/her food, the most his/her taste buds acclimate and the more necessary it is to his/her perception of whether a dish is tasty or not. Low sodium restaurants can benefit from more than just impressive nutrition facts, but also by receiving a positive reputation through proper restaurant marketing. Nutrition facts of restaurant menus with low sodium levels will draw the attention of those looking for a healthy restaurant eating experience, as well as those simply concerned with elevated blood pressure.
Low Sodium Restaurants and Delicious Restaurant Menus
Salt shakers will never be out of fashion on a restaurant table. There is no denying the taste-inducing effects of salt on food. Even desserts benefit from a pinch of salt, which helps bring out the flavors. However, food businesses can significantly cut their salt use with a few strategic steps, creating restaurant menus with more impressive nutrition facts.
It’s kind of ironic how whole wheat flour is more expensive than white flour, even though the preparation process in the factory is identical, except for white flour going through various extra steps. The explanation for this absurdity lies in the popularity of healthy eating culinary trends. Restaurants offering meals with high nutritional value can be extremely successful, depending on their target market. However, restaurants hoping to appeal to a large and varied customer base must find ways to work within the framework of culinary trends such as healthy eating, while keeping their prices down. Obvious options include offering low food-costs meals made with in-season produce and slightly cutting down portion sizes. However, many businesses invest in nutritional value in areas that are not necessarily worth the investment. Despite the faulty ideas behind some of these trends, a few of them are worth keeping, for purposes of restaurant marketing.
Trends to Keep
Organic food is one of the culinary trends that has gotten major attention over the years. Pesticides are a proven danger, and no one will argue that it is best to stay clear of coming into contact with them. However, despite the beliefs of an overwhelming percentage of the public, organic farms do use pesticides: organic ones. Organic farms do tend have some practices that are better for the environment than other, larger industrial farms, but not using pesticides is not one of them. So why is organic food a trend to keep? Offering organic food or having an organic restaurant is a great way to increase restaurant business among customers concerned with healthy eating, if only because the lack of public awareness as to the definition of organic food. Despite the higher price of organic foods, businesses with a healthy restaurant focus should consider splurging on this gimmick in order to increase restaurant business
Food selfies are taking over Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites. Chefs and culinary professionals have mixed feelings about the trend and, in some cases, chefs have banned taking pictures of food in their venue, while others have gone to the other extreme, offering free food to those who take pictures of their food and tag the venue on Instagram. Food plating and presentation has always been viewed as an important aspect of running a restaurant. However, with food photography ballooning in popularity food stylist worthy dishes should be a key focus for venues. By pulling out those garnishes and squeeze bottles, and giving customers dishes worthy of the best food photography, businesses can get effective and free restaurant marketing from customers’ pictures of food.
Making Customers the Food Stylist
Let’s face it. The majority of customers do not know how to photograph food on a professional level. They lack the artistic knowledge and equipment. However, the widespread restaurant marketing that can result from customers uploading their pictures of food in a venue can bring in new restaurant business, and draw back old customers. Restaurant marketing is often at the forefront of the minds of managers and owners. Luckily, with the rise in social media and smartphones, as well as an appreciation for culinary culture, much word of mouth restaurant marketing is being done for businesses, for free, by the customer. Venues can easily get in on this type of restaurant marketing by persuading customers to take pictures of food and mention the venue. Offering prizes for the best food photography each month, or offering discounts for mentioning the venue, along with pictures of food, on social media sites, can get the trend started. Instead of worrying about food photographers or learning how to photograph food, venues can benefit from customers’ food pictures. Customers a likely to get a wide range of shots and, even better, flaunt them to their friends, giving a venue great restaurant marketing.
Businesses are constantly looking for new ingredients to use in restaurant menu ideas in order to set their venue apart. Kale nutritional benefits and culinary diversity make it an ideal candidate for restaurant menus. Not only is it an attractive ingredient for people concerned with healthy restaurant eating, it is also an interesting and hip addition to restaurant menus. Businesses may choose to add variety to their ingredients by switching out spinach for kale, chard, or beet greens in some existing dishes, or by creating dishes to show off these “superfood” greens.
Kale Nutritional Benefits
Kale has become famous, largely because of its incredible nutrition facts. Not only is it high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, minerals, and phytonutrients, it is also fat free, low calorie, and a great source of absorbable calcium and antioxidants. Kale on restaurant menus is a dream come true for customers concerned with healthy restaurant eating. Kale nutritional benefits clearly make it a superfood, yet it does not lack in preparation possibilities for restaurant menu ideas, showing that healthy food can have a place in the culinary world as well.
Restaurant Menu Ideas with Kale
With nutrition facts and healthy eating taking center stage in the restaurant business in recent years, adding kale, and other foods with impressive nutrition facts, to restaurant menus, has clear potential for improving business. Kale nutritional benefits make it an ideal ingredient
With relatively new food labeling laws, large restaurant chains are required to print restaurant nutrition information on their restaurant menus. Small food businesses are not obligated to do so, but some may choose to offer their customers this option, in order to show their support of healthy restaurant eating. Other venues may choose to simply provide menu labels near healthy options, rather than specific nutrition facts. Either way, a study by Drexel University’s School of Public Health has shown that restaurant nutrition information impacts customers’ purchasing decisions, ultimately leading customers to ordering fewer calories. Restaurant menus with healthy restaurant eating options may benefit from letting customers know about their healthy restaurant menus. However, despite the added comfort for dieting and health-conscious customers, restaurant nutrition labelling is usually not a worthwhile investment for small businesses, when not required by law.
Menu labelling is a restaurant marketing strategy that can attract customers on a strict diet. Those effected with diabetes and obesity can clearly benefit from knowledge of carbohydrate, sugar, fat and caloric meal content. A venue that offers healthy restaurant eating options should be confident enough in their restaurant menus to add a nutrition facts label, at least to some menu items. Many consumers are aware of the studies that have been done, showing that an overwhelming majority underestimate the caloric content of restaurant and fast food chain menu items. However, by being shown the estimated restaurant nutrition information for