A Healthier World


At the Worlds of Healthy Flavors Leadership Retreat, held at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in Napa, Calif., nutrition scientists and more than 40
chefs shared ideas for improving flavor profiles and the health factor of menus, giving operators valuable insight into the direction menus are taking in the coming years.


Worlds of Healthy Flavors Leadership Retreat
Power to change the way America eats rests in the hands of foodservice operators. Ways to wield that power were outlined last month at the fourth annual Worlds of Healthy Flavors Leadership Retreat, staged at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in Napa, Calif.


Influential nutrition scientists, cooking experts and more than 40 chefs and menu decision-makers shared many terrific, easy-to-do ideas for pumping up the flavor and health quality of menus.


Based on years of dietary and nutrition research results, a string of nutrition scientists recommend diets high in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and nuts. Most Americans, they say, would do well to reduce the amount of meat they consume and increase their fish consumption. Overall, a plant-based diet with protein as a minor addition can reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.


Bringing those scientists’ recommendations into kitchens was the job of several chefs and cooking experts who demonstrated dishes from the eastern Mediterranean, India, Mexico and California. Their demos introduced a world of ways to use vegetables, fruits, grains and polyunsaturated oils in dishes that are stuffed with whole ingredients and big flavors.


Avoiding the stigma: Unfortunately, early “healthy” menu items tended to lack flavor, making customers leery of anything labeled “heart-healthy” or “low-sodium.” That sort of label guarantees an item won’t sell. Instead of announcing changes, make improvements without fanfare and in ways that customers will enjoy.


Here are some “sneaky” ideas presenters at Worlds of Healthy Flavors recommended noncommercial foodservice operators and chefs use to seduce customers with new healthier choices:


—Spec baked goods—including pizza dough, rolls and muffins— with 20% whole grain. Customers will benefit but most won’t notice the added whole grains.


—Use legume-enriched pasta at pasta bars and in pasta salads.


—Add finely shredded vegetables to low-fat turkey meatloaf and meatballs; include onion, carrot, bell pepper, zucchini, cabbage and tomato. Use plenty of vegetables and the result will be moist and tasty.


—Make cole slaw or chopped salads with lots of carrot, scallion, parsley, radish, lemon juice and flavored vinegar. You can decrease or even eliminate the mayonnaise and use little or no oil.


—Purée beans to use as a soup thickener and add beans or lentils to vegetable soups.


—Make salads and sides with whole wheat couscous—its texture is very similar to white couscous. Create tasty couscous or bulgur salads by adding chopped fruit, cilantro, mint and lemon juice. On the savory side, add asparagus, cucumber and fresh dill with a mustard-lemon dressing.


—Pile green salad on top of pizza or quiche.


—Replace mayonnaise with hummus as a sandwich spread, and try hummus stirred into tuna and chicken salads.

Reduce and go ‘brown:’ The panel of experts, both scientists and chefs, added other advice for foodservice directors who provide meals for customers of all ages. A major consideration, they emphasized, is to reduce portion sizes. Make sandwiches with no more than three ounces of protein and pile on the veggies; whip up omelets with two eggs or extra whites; limit starch sides to half-cup portions. If you do it gradually, your customers will not notice.


In most cases, white bread, buns, rolls, rice and pasta are the norm and whole grain items are offered as an alternative. Why not make a switch? Put the whole-grain items out there first and offer the white breads as an option.


The chefs at the conference also suggested tasty ways to enrich self-serve salad bars with whole grain salads, such as wheat berry with dates, dried apricots, scallions, cilantro and yogurt dressing; brown rice with apples, raisins, celery, almonds and light curry dressing; and barley and small white beans with chopped roasted vegetables, a sprinkle of crumbled cheese, tossed with garlicky dressing.


When recipes use olives, cheese, canned tuna and other salty ingredients, you can reduce the amount of added salt. Use your health-stealth techniques to build flavor with less salt. Bring out the best flavors in vegetables and fruits by grilling, roasting, toasting or puréeing them to use as ingredients.


Nuts, seeds and peanuts are all excellent sources of good fats. Use them, as well as nut butters and oils, in granolas, breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, sides and snacks. Be sure to always identify the dishes that include nuts or peanuts to alert those who are allergic.


Overall, be bold, the chefs said. Most customers are ready to try new dishes from all over the world. Find new flavors and techniques in the cuisines of other cultures, by reading about or traveling to exotic places to learn about the way they use vegetables, fruits, whole grains, spices, and make healthful beverages and sweets. Then plan changes by making a timeline, starting with the most important changes and those that will be easiest for staff to incorporate.


Get creative and get started. As the experts at Greystone said, the power to make changes is in your hands.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has appointed Cathy Desquesses as its chief people officer, the company announced on Friday.

Before joining Sodexo, Desquesses held multiple leadership roles in the human resources department at General Electric, where she worked for 20 years. Most recently, she was the global HR leader for GE Power Gas.

Desquesses will begin her new role on July 1 and will report to Sodexo CEO Denis Machuel. She will replace Juan Pablo Urruticoechea, who is moving into a new position at Sodexo.

Photo courtesy of Sodexo

Managing Your Business
woman in the kitchen alone

The #MeToo movement has turned sexual harassment into the top labor-related regulatory issue for all employers, triggering action from three out of four companies, according to a new survey on workforce concerns.

About two-thirds (66%) of employers rank the issue among their top two employment-related legal worries, even without a change in the pertinent laws and regulations, the canvass found.

What has changed, concluded surveyor Littler Mendelson, one of the nation’s largest labor-focused legal firms, are employee expectations and the social climate.

“No company...

Managing Your Business
Starbucks college campus

Noncommercial dining centers are often filled with their own Starbucks, Burger Kings, Panera Breads and dozens of other nationally recognized brands. Branded concepts, whether corporate brands or self-operated, offer diners familiar names, menu items, and a sense of place. This translates into more money spent and more diner loyalty for foodservice operators.

However, the success of branded concepts vary greatly. There can be significantly different results depending on whether noncommercial operators decide to franchise, lease or develop their own branded concepts. There’s no one-...

Menu Development
pizza oven

Wood-fired ovens take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to pizza-cooking preference for consumers. Just fewer than half (45%) of consumers say they prefer a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven compared to other oven cooking methods. Here are the styles of ovens pizza consumers prefer most.

Wood-fired oven 45% Gas oven 13% Electric oven 11% Grilled 4% Coal oven 4% No preference 23%

Source: Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code