Today’s Health Conscious Consumers Demand Healthier Food Choices
Currently, there is a high level of interest in nutrition and healthy eating and customers both young and old are demanding healthier choices more than ever before when dining out. Ensure that your restaurant is able to keep pace with this trend by offering a wide variety of healthy choices that customers are looking for.
Some of the recent trends include:
- Whole Grain Choices- Offer healthy, whole grain choices that are higher in fiber including whole wheat pizza crusts, pasta, bread, rolls, pitas, and wraps as well as whole grain brown or wild rice.
- Trans Fat Free and Lower Fat- One of the biggest consumer concerns in the media today is with trans fatty acids due to the association with an increased risk of heart disease. Trans fats are found in many commercial shortenings, frying oils, margarines, snack foods, bakery products and ready to serve foods. Many manufacturers have responded to these health concerns by making their products trans-fat free and many restaurants have switched to preparing their food using trans-fat free cooking oil. Also, it is important to offer healthier fat choices such as lower fat salad dressings, canola oil, olive oil and non-hydrogenated margarine.
- Increased Consumption of Vegetables and Fruit- Fruits and veggies, especially those that are dark green and orange in color are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber and help lower the risk of certain cancers. Be sure to offer a variety of high quality fresh vegetables in salads and steamed or grilled vegetables to accompany your main course. Offer kids meals with a choice of healthy sides other than fries that include baked potato, mashed potato, fresh veggies and dip, steamed vegetables, salad, or fresh fruit such as grapes, applesauce, fruit cup or sliced apples.
- Vegetarian Choices- Interest in vegetarianism appears to be increasing, with many restaurants and college food services offering vegetarian meals routinely. There are now soy based or “non-meat” alternatives available to offer your customers including meatless chicken and beef strips that can be substituted for meat in almost any dish. There are many brands of meatless burgers and meatless chicken nuggets available too. Legumes such as beans and lentils are inexpensive and excellent to include as a main entrée or side dish.
- Say Goodbye to Super Size- With the current level of interest in nutrition and healthy eating “quantity” is definitely out and “quality” is in and health conscious customers will pay more to get the food choices they want. Reducing the portion size may allow you to offer higher quality ingredients without additional increase to your food cost.
By Kathleen Murdoch and Suzanne Berryman, R.D.
Sysco Food Services of Atlantic Canada