Smoothies and shakes: Blended investment

A selection of fruit smoothies can add on-trend beverage choices to your menu and boost your average check. There are several ways to go when it comes to purchasing and operating strategies.

Fresh from scratch smoothies are the most difficult to execute. Fresh fruit is not simple to select, buy, store and handle. Often you have to ripen fruit shipped green, and there’s a brief window of usability—waste can be a problem. In addition, fresh fruit has to be peeled, pitted and otherwise prepped, which can impact labor costs. Seasonality is often a factor, too. That said, fresh fruit smoothies made from scratch are a classy beverage offering and can be promoted and priced to reflect that.

Many of the purchasing difficulties with fresh can be avoided by using IQF (individually quick frozen) fruit. Seasonality is no longer an issue, and fruit frozen at its peak can be better quality than fresh fruit that’s past its prime. Check deliveries at the back door to ensure that the product is still frozen solid. A good compromise is to combine IQF product with dependable fresh varieties, such as bananas and citrus, that are generally available year round.

Perhaps the easiest way to serve a smoothie is to buy one of the many mixes on the market. Powders and concentrates require messy mixing and usually don’t produce the best-quality final product. A better choice is full-strength smoothie mix, available in a huge variety of flavors. These products usually come in reclosable 1-liter boxes, which are shelf-stable until opened. To use, just puree in a blender with ice. This type of smoothie mix can also be dispensed from a granita machine.

A whole new category of smoothie has grown up around tea. Black tea, green tea, white tea and especially chai (a spicy milky tea concoction) are all available in concentrate form, ready to blend with ice and serve. The latest entry is yerba mate, a South American tea drink that’s also being promoted as a smoothie. For a signature smoothie, add fresh or frozen fruit to these tea concentrates.

A favorite way to upgrade smoothie selections is with ingredient additions. Yogurt, milk, ice cream, sherbet or sorbet all thicken and/or add richness. Soy or rice milk are dairy-free variations. Bee pollen, kelp, soy protein, creatine, whey, wheatgrass, echinacea and ginkgo biloba appeal to the health-seeking crowd, but you’ll have to go outside the usual supply channels to purchase most of them.

Finally, pomegranates, tart cherries, blueberries and acai berries are all touted for their high antioxidant levels. It’s easy—although relatively expensive—to add a dose of these healthy juices to any smoothie.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
ohio state o

No, that’s not a typo: 51,759 undergraduates were enrolled at Ohio State University in the 2015-2016 academic year, making it one of the largest public universities in the country. And while not every student had a meal plan, it’s safe to say that Zia Ahmed, senior director of dining services for the Columbus, Ohio, school, is in charge of both feeding and supervising a massive number of people.

Ahmed says his No. 1 tips for handling the travel, stress and struggle for work-life balance that comes with his job are straightforward: communication and managing people’s expectations....

Managing Your Business
steam table server

Over the past five years, this column has kept me current on topics ranging from culinary techniques to HR policies to pest control. As a culinary and hospitality educator, one of the things I really value about my work with Restaurant Business , FoodService Director's sister publication, is that it broadens my knowledge base so I have more answers in the classroom.

But part of being a good professor is being smart enough to say, “I have no clue, but I know who will.” When it comes to equipment engineering, I’m lucky if I can find the “on” switch.

Fortunately, I have James...

Industry News & Opinion

HMSHost has partnered with golf tournament organizer PGA Tour to open a new PGA Tour Grill location in El Paso International Airport in El Paso, Texas.

The grill aims to promote an active lifestyle through healthy food options outside of traditional airport fare, and appeals to golf fans with flat-screen TVs dedicated to golf tournaments and related programming.

“The new PGA Tour Grill is a perfect addition to the El Paso International Airport as it brings a new and refreshing menu,” Monica Lombrana, director of aviation at El Paso International Airport, said in a statement...

Industry News & Opinion

K-12 foodservice participating in federal nutrition programs soon could fall into some extra cheese. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to buy 11 million pounds of cheese to raise plummeting prices, the result of a dairy glut. The acquired product will be distributed to federal nutrition programs, which might include WIC, SNAP and Child Nutrition Programs, and food banks.

The purchase falls short of a call from Congress, unions, special interest groups and commodity organizations for a $150 million buyout of dairy assets to mitigate the 35% drop in dairy revenues—a 30-year...

FSD Resources