What’s in your kitchen?

Published in FSD Update

Chefs share the trends that are driving their kitchen decisions.

Coltek adds that the key to winning non-vegans over to alternative proteins is education. “We use fresh herbs and marinades to add flavor and we make sure the sodium is low. Once you educate them, they won’t mind going to some of these categories.”

At Penn State, beans are used to supply the protein in the bulk of vegetarian and vegan items, Kowalski says.

“Some of the alternative proteins don’t have as much cross-appeal with non-vegetarians, unlike black beans, which a non-vegetarian might choose,” he explains. “We offer items like black bean quinoa, black bean sliders, and a corn and black bean salsa.”

School foodservice operators are beginning to have more freedom to use meat alternatives. Sodexo’s Feldman says that her team has developed 60 meatless recipes that meet USDA requirements.

“We have put a big focus on beans and tofu,” she notes. “We just now have been allowed to use tofu as a creditable protein and we’ve done a lot of work with how to properly marinate and roast it. We’ve done a lot of international flavors—Latin and Asian are good entry points in getting people to consider meatless.”

In Austin schools, beans are the go-to vegetable protein, Burke says.

“We don’t do any tofu because prices can be high on that sometimes,” he explains. “We messed with seitan a few years ago when we partnered with Whole Foods and worked with their chefs. We were making it in house but the labor was really high for something that didn’t go over very well, and it costs too much to purchase.”

Douglas County’s Morse says Greek yogurt is currently his district’s non-meat protein of choice, while other alternatives aren’t being requested.

“A year and a half ago, I was getting all these emails about how we have to have Meatless Monday,” Morse recalls. “There was always this desire to have a different protein rather than an animal protein. I don’t know why, but I’ve seen that disappear. We have our work ahead of us to see how we can get in that vegetarian option.”

Stanislaw believes the Whittier Health Network will continue to find more innovative ways to use beans and legumes.

“One particular recipe that has been received well is our lentil pilaf. Quinoa is another alternative that we are trying to introduce to our senior population,” he notes. “Unfortunately we get pushback from the current seniors. I believe once we start to see the next generation of seniors come on board they will have much more knowledge and acceptance of quinoa.”

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