Beans offer plant-based, hearty protein for healthcare menus

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It’s no secret that consumers are increasingly interested in eating plant-based fare. And in healthcare facilities, that interest is making its way to menus in the form of vegetable-heavy, plant-forward foods. Beans, from black beans and pinto beans to garbanzo beans and more, are a staple of this trend: Ninety-one percent of healthcare foodservice facilities offer them, according to Ignite menu data.

Learn more about why beans are making their presence known on healthcare menus.

Plant-based protein options

According to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Seafood & Vegetarian Consumer Trend Report, 33% of consumers say they eat a vegan or vegetarian meal at least once a week. This means diners are more likely to skip meat for some of their meals even if they don’t want to give it up entirely. For these diners, plant-based protein options such as veggie burgers have long been the alternative they’ve chosen.

Burgers made with ingredients such as black beans, garbanzo beans or navy beans, plus farro, quinoa or other grains, offer diners a hearty option that’s plant-based.

Plant-forward, customizable meals

Bowl meals continue to thrive on restaurant menus, particularly at fast-casual chains, and are an area of focus on healthcare menus as well. Beans are the perfect plant-based protein for bowl meals. They’re great in burrito bowl meals and can also be used in Mediterranean-inspired options, such as a falafel bowl or meze bowl with garbanzo beans or hummus, cucumbers, Greek olives and more.

By offering diners the chance to add only the ingredients they enjoy, plant-based menu items such as these may see an uptick in popularity.

Evolving from sides to a staple ingredient

Center-of-the-plate vegetables continue to proliferate on menus, with cauliflower leading the pack thanks to its versatility: It can be used as a pizza crust, as low-carb “rice” and even as a replacement for steaks when cooked on planks and served as a “meaty” slab.

But cauliflower isn’t the only vegetable taking center stage on plates. On-trend global spices and flavors help operators create delicious dishes where vegetables and beans are the star. For instance, at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., Vegetarian Lentil Curry makes an appearance on the lunch and dinner menus, and at a University Hospital facility in Madison, Wis., diners can enjoy Stuffed Avocado with Spanish Rice, featuring a baked avocado filled with black beans, pepper jack cheese, cilantro and spices served with Spanish rice, pico de gallo and tomatillo chile vinaigrette.

With many diners focusing more on their health, combined with the “food as medicine” movement, it’s no surprise plant-based options are multiplying on menus. With beans as the center-of-plate protein, it’s easy to prepare a healthful, filling meal without animal protein. And with global flavors in the mix, operators have plenty of options for what to serve.

This post is sponsored by Furmano’s