New ways to use fresh ingredients in healthcare dining

Celery is often overlooked and under-celebrated, but it's coming back into the spotlight.

celery foodservice

From T. Marzetti® Foodservice.

Celery is often overlooked and under-celebrated, but its status as a tasty, crunchy, nutritious vegetable is bringing it back into the spotlight on menus everywhere. Celery is a great choice for healthcare foodservice: it’s inexpensive, hardy and operators can use every part of it, from roots to leaves to stems.

According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 87% of consumers are more likely to buy items that are described as fresh. Here’s how adding celery to the menu can help you give your diners what they’re seeking.

Elevated versatility

Cookbook author Robin Asbell talks about all the ways to prepare celery, including pureeing the root, braising the stalk, chopping leaves and even garnishing dishes with celery seeds. Asbell also notes that celeriac, the proper name for the celery root, is on an upward trend among fine-dining operations.

But don’t let celeriac’s “fine-dining” status scare you away from using it. Today’s healthcare patients, visitors and staff alike are looking for an elevated dining experience, even in healthcare facilities. Introducing unique applications of a fresh vegetable like celery—and experimenting with using all of its parts—is an easy way to deliver that elevated feel.

High juice potential

Versatility isn’t celery’s only strength by a longshot. As a healthy menu item, juices continue to trend upward, and celery—prized for its high water content—is a go-to ingredient for many juicers. According to Datassential MenuTrends, menu mentions of juices have grown 10.6% since 2005. This same Datassential research also reveals that juices are a very convenient way for diners to consume fresh fruits and vegetables due to their portability. This is especially important in healthcare foodservice because portability is often a high priority for patients, visitors and staff.

Great snacking

Consumer interest in snacks and snack foods intersects perfectly with their interest in fresh and “free-from” foods when it comes to celery. Eighty-three percent of consumers in Technomic’s 2016 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report say that during a typical week, they have a snack between meals at least once a day. Celery, with its satisfying crunch and rich nutrients, is a great healthcare snack option. Plus, by offering choices such as celery sticks with peanut butter, ranch or on their own, operators ensure that all diners feel well cared for.

Other fresh options for your operation

T. MarzettiTM Foodservice offers Simply Dressed® salad dressings that are made with only the freshest ingredients—no MSG, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors, gluten or soybean oil. Available in 32 oz. bottles that fit right onto your salad bar, these clean label dressings bring delicious flavor to your healthcare dining operation. (And pair wonderfully with all sorts of celery preparations!) Get your free sample of Simply Dressed® salad dressing, today.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

The University of New Mexico’s proposed on-campus taproom has officially been approved by the school’s Board of Regents.

Construction on the $650,000 student union taproom will begin this summer and is expected to finish in August when students return to campus. The school’s food vendor, Chartwells, and UNM’s Dining & Food Services department will split the cost of the taproom evenly.

Designed by students in the school’s architecture department, the space will feature a rotating selection of beer and wine, and will also welcome guest brewers. Chartwells will be...

Ideas and Innovation

Three years ago, Colonial School District in New Castle, Del., started a pilot supper program at its high school. The goal: To make sure the district’s students, 57% of whom are on free or reduced-priced meals, would not be hungry when school is done for the day.

Since its inception, the program has expanded to 12 schools and now provides afterschool meals to children participating in YMCA activities. And it's just one of many such programs popping up in districts throughout the country, as operators add supper to the list of daily meals they provide for students.

Ideas and Innovation

We put our hydroponic gardens in a spot where students can watch them grow, but at the same time it’s safe from being tampered with. At one of our elementary schools, the gardens are in the kitchen, but there’s a window where students can look in as they walk down the hallway. Some even stop to count how many cucumbers they see.

Ideas and Innovation
food snap

We started a 50-member vegan team in response to students expressing the need for more vegan options. Between our monthly meetings, students are asked to take photos of foods they eat in and out of the dining halls to give us a true picture of the kinds of things they like and the kinds of foods that cause disappointment. This exercise has sparked a lot of conversation and given us more insight into what we could do better.

FSD Resources