The new face of healthy options

healthy options menu transparency

From Hormel Foodservice.

Healthy used to mean low fat, low calorie or light. But now, consumers are equating health with such attributes as fresh, natural, high protein, high fiber and whole grain, as well as such concepts as authenticity and menu transparency.

Consumers want to know what’s in their food—and what’s not—where it comes from and how it’s made. They want to balance indulgence with sensibility, and to feel good about the choices they make. They want real food.

According to a recent report from Technomic, a majority of survey respondents equated healthfulness with such terms as “real” (54 percent), “organic” (65 percent), “unprocessed” (72 percent) and “natural” (72 percent). In addition, 52 percent said they wanted restaurants to be transparent about menu items.

This is also true in non-commercial foodservice as well. “Students here are more concerned than ever with where their food is coming from,” says Eric Cartwright, executive chef, campus dining services, at the University of Missouri in Columbia (Mizzou). “We’ve found that the more we can tell them about an ingredient or a recipe, the more inclined they are to try it. Telling a story about it makes new menu items an easier sell.”

This strategy has been effective at Mizzou for a variety of different initiatives, from sustainability to the Culinary Discovery Events that take place at the school’s Culinary Development Kitchen. Designed to “unite and educate students through foods,” these programs have included introductions to global food and culture, local Missouri products, and mindful eating.

Such efforts as these are all part of growing demand for more natural ingredients, healthful alternatives and “flexitarian” menuing patterns, where focus on animal proteins is balanced with fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins such as seeds, beans and grains.

Operators are meeting the demand in a number of ways, using menu transparency to call out such attributes as:

  • Natural, organic and local ingredients
  • Farm-raised products (including meat, poultry, dairy and eggs)
  • Plant-based proteins
  • Grain, bean and legume dishes

One of the breakout ingredients in this trend has been grains; such products as quinoa and brown rice are now widely popular with customers. The all natural HORMEL® FUSE™ Burger delivers on today’s definition of a healthful product by combining lean protein with delicious whole grains, vegetables and fruit.

  • Turkey & Brown Rice: Ground turkey, whole grain brown rice, nutrient-rich spinach, roasted onion and dried cherries
  • Chicken & Quinoa: Lean ground chicken, healthful quinoa and kale, cremini mushrooms and ginger

Operators can serve these fully cooked, gluten-free patties with other healthful ingredients such as whole grain bread, fresh vegetables and sauces that are flavorful, yet sensible, for those looking to keep their fat and calorie intake in check. Or serve with other fresh, natural ingredients such as avocado, artisan cheese and flavor-infused spreads for those seeking a real, natural, delicious food experience.

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