Build a functional nutritious menu with plant-based options

Seasoned Ratatouille Penne
Photograph: Basic American Foods

From Basic American Foods.

While foodservice operations across the country have expanded their vegan and vegetarian menus in recent years, those plant-based options are crossing over into the mainstream. That’s because today’s consumers have a different definition of eating healthy. It’s not just about restricting their intake of fat, calories or sugar anymore. People want food that offers functional nutrition—that is, meals that contain ingredients that have a positive effect on their bodies, such as fiber, protein and other nutrients that sustain energy, improve digestion and prevent disease.

According to a recent Healthy Eating report by Technomic, 46% of consumers say they order healthy food to feel better physically after they eat. Additionally, 33% of diners say they are ordering healthy items more often than they were two years ago, while 32% say they are eating more foods because of their specific nutritional benefits than they were two years ago. Plant-forward menu options are a great way to cater to these healthier eating habits and satisfy diners who choose to eat this way, either full-time or occasionally.

There are plenty of easy ways for foodservice operators to serve dishes packed with nutrition that fuels the body. For instance, Basic American Foods’ Lentil Penne is a simple way to bring
legumes and plant-based protein to the center of the plate. Made from red lentil flour, white rice and pea protein—all sourced from the US and Canada—Lentil Penne packs a nutritional punch. It offers 21 grams of protein and six grams of fiber per 100 gram serving.

Gluten-free

Eating healthy has evolved from simply limiting unhealthy ingredients to adopting diets that limit certain ingredients, like gluten. Gluten-free foods continue to gain in popularity—at restaurants in the west, mentions of gluten-free items on menus have grown 16% year over year; in the south, they’ve grown 33%; in the northeast, 38%, and in the midwest, 23%. On the foodservice front, Lentil Penne is an easy-prep option that is gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, free of the “Big-8” allergens and is Kosher Pareve OU, delivering for those diners on restricted diets as well.

Easy swap

The legume pasta can be easily swapped in wherever traditional pasta is used and works well with the double-cook technique. For example, use it to make Greek Pasta Salad by combining the plant-based noodle with cucumbers, red onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, dressing and feta cheese. Or offer Seasoned Ratatouille Penne by cooking the lentil pasta with an easy and flavorful mix of seasonal vegetables, garlic and olive oil.

Vegetables aren’t just for vegetarians anymore: Technomic’s Healthy Eating report finds that 85% of consumers believe items that contain a full serving of vegetables are slightly or much more healthy than other food options. Plant-based protein options such as Lentil Pasta offer a convenient way to add more functional nutrition to foodservice menus. For the changing tastes of consumers, this veggie-based pasta fits the bill.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
desserts event

Our catering and bakery teams have hosted an Ultimate Dessert Event for the past two years. Both years, we had students come right at the beginning and stay until the very end just catching up with friends because they loved the vibe of the music, delicious desserts, lights and ambiance. We love showcasing what our BC Bakery is capable of, and while students see some of our products in the units, they were blown away to find out that our own bakery was making all these higher-end items right on campus.

We had about 70 extra walk-ins over the presold tickets. Students walked by and...

Managing Your Business
Senior Living Staff Cafeteria

FoodService Director recently spoke with operators across the country to see how they’re handling today’s labor challenges. One was Moe Memmolo, general manager for dining services at Taylor Senior Living Community in Laconia, N.H. Read on for his thoughts.

FSD : What’s your short- and long-term outlook for staffing, and what’s the most significant challenge to staffing?

MM: Laconia is part of what’s called the Lakes Region. It’s a seasonal enclave with many vacationers, a summerlong concert venue and an event called “Bike Week.” This all means competing with even more employers,...

Menu Development
Spicy Ramen Noodles Pork Shoyu Miso

Instant ramen has long been a go-to meal or snack for college students.

But the ramen being ladled up now in dining halls and other noncommercial venues is culinary light-years beyond those cellophane-wrapped packets. The broth alone can take a couple of days to make, the ingredients may be sourced from Japan—or at the very least, from an Asian distributor—and even the noodles may be made from scratch.

Authenticity is key. Or is it?

Ramen fuels a new concept

The Omori Ramen Bar debuted at Boston University in January, with input from the BU community to nail the...

Industry News & Opinion

As the topic of food insecurity continues to roil college campuses, the University of California Santa Barbara is seeking to meet its students’ needs with the addition of a second food pantry, which debuted last fall.

Miramar Food Pantry, which is open three days a week, is available to any UCSB student who qualifies, according to The Current, the news section of UCSB’s website. The pantry took over the space of a former retail market and is being run and funded by the university’s Housing, Dining and Auxiliary Enterprises.

“We’re supplementing what we get from the Foodbank...

FSD Resources