Though the coronavirus has brought a whole new meaning to health and wellness into the foodservice sphere, prior to the outbreak, once-fringe diets such as Whole30, keto and paleo had come to the fore. In fact, they'd become arguably mainstream: 38% of consumers say they would try paleo menu options, per Technomic’s most recent Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report. And as the popularity of these eating styles prevailed, restaurants responded with a host of new menu items.
Fast casuals, in particular, have added a flurry of dishes that cater to these trendy diet types. Earlier this year, Boston-based chain B.Good expanded on its line of Flexitarian burgers—four plant-forward options including a beet pineapple patty and a turkey mushroom burger—with a new Lifestyle Menu.
The chain’s new menu is made up of four items: a Keto Salad featuring grilled chicken, bacon and romaine; Paleo Salad with grilled chicken, romaine and zucchini noodles; a Whole30-Approved Salad with avocado, kale, Brussels sprouts and butternut squash; and a WW Bowl with grilled chicken, kale, cheddar cheese and beets, which B.Good says racks up fewer than 12 Weight Watchers points.
Chipotle Mexican Grill has also introduced its own line of four Lifestyle Bowls, each of which appeals to a different diet type: keto, paleo, Whole30 and high-protein.
And Just Salad hit on two of the biggest recent restaurant trends when it launched a virtual spinoff eatery in partnership with Grubhub. The menu of its Health Tribes concept offers more than 10 options that are either vegan, keto, paleo or gluten-free, such as a Warm Shawarma Bowl and a Mushroom Harvest Bowl. Several of the items include riced broccoli and cauliflower as a base, appealing to a variety of special diets or those who simply want to up their vegetable intake or cut carbs.
"Now more than ever, Americans are embracing new and varied approaches to healthy living and wellness," Chris Brandt, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. "We've watched guests custom create lifestyle-specific bowls when ordering in our restaurants, so it made sense to offer delicious options via our online channels that help people easily order bowls with real ingredients that fit their wellness goals."
Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., last fall introduced a high-protein, low-sugar breakfast station that offers items such as unsweetened Greek yogurt, black beans, scrambled tofu and hummus. Students can craft a savory breakfast bowl from the available items or use them to add protein to oatmeal or the avocado toast the dining hall offers on Fridays. The station, which was aimed at providing more options for students with diabetes, has proved popular with other students as well, says Marist Dining Field Marketing Specialist Kate Cole.