4 health-centered takeaways from MenuDirections 2018

menu direction panels

Attendees of FoodService Director’s 2018 MenuDirections conference in New Orleans were served a variety of healthy culinary practices from speakers and their peers. Here are four key ideas conference-goers took home from the event last week.

1. Breaking from tradition

Kerri Dotson

The Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases, Kerri Dotson, culinary medicine educator at Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine, shared in a general session presentation. Operators don’t have to add traditional Mediterranean dishes to share the diet’s benefits with diners, Dotson said, proposing that they incorporate aspects of the diet into mainstream offerings. She suggested adding fruit to salad bars and in desserts, as well as tweaking dishes such as pasta with meat sauce by replacing some of the meat with fiber-rich, low-sodium lentils.

2. Sorghum-sweetened desserts

Sorghum lecture

Sorghum, a nutrient-dense, gluten-free grain, is being used in sweets. Chef Robert Landolphi of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., says he has added sorghum beer and sorghum syrup to brownie batter to create a fun gluten-free treat for St. Patrick’s Day. 

3. Operators go beyond blended burgers...

blended burger

Meat-and-mushroom blends aren’t just for use between bread or buns. At one panel discussion, attendees were able to sample a lettuce wrap as well as a taco made with a mushroom-and-beef mixture. Speakers also suggested using the blend in items such as meatballs and meatloaf.

4. …and share the story behind the healthy food they serve

Frank Turchan

At the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., Executive Chef Frank Turchan’s team invites farmers from the university’s farm to meet with students throughout the year. The visits allow students to get an inside look at how some of the produce served in the dining halls is grown, Turchan said. 

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