Six protein items take over school lunch trays

Trends include eggs, legumes, Greek yogurt and more.

Nov. 21—You may have heard that school lunch choices are healthier with the new USDA regulations, but did you know that school cafeterias are also downright trendy? The same menu innovations, ethnic flavors and hot products seen in top restaurants are showing up in schools from Alaska to Maine. Like trend-conscious restaurateurs, school nutrition professionals know that their customers want the same things they see on TV food shows with celebrity chefs.

Protein has been trending for several years -- and 2014 forecasts call for even more protein power. Technomic's Take: 10 Trends for 2014 predicts the parameters of protein will be pushed in new directions -- with more ethnic BBQ flavors, creative center-of-the-plate alternatives for both vegetarians and flexitarians, and pork as a rising star. The six satisfying trends profiled here are taking over schools, from large urban and suburban schools to tiny rural districts.

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Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds,...

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