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.


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.

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