“At least you still have your health” is how the old saying goes, and it’s as true today as it was when it was first said. Your health and wellbeing is the foundation of a happy life and whether you’re serving up wholesome and nutritious food, educating your customers around a balanced diet or making sure to look after yourself working in the, often busy, foodservice industry, you can make a real positive impact to yourself and those around you.
Steps to healthy eating and the importance of good nutrition
Keeping hydrated, physically active and sleeping well are great aides to healthy living.
Steps for healthy eating include starting the day with a healthy breakfast, ensuring your diet consists of plenty of vegetables and foods containing fibre, nutrients and vitamins, as well as ensuring your body gets enough of the protein and other micro/macronutrients that it requires to function.
Food is also key to your overall health and a way to provide your body with the energy and nutrition it needs. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has hit the headlines with the finding that the use of dietary supplements was not associated with health benefits while nutrients from foods appeared to reduce the risk of mortality.
Imagine your body is a car, you want to be filling it up with the correct fuel! Plenty of information on NHS guidelines for a healthier and balanced diet, can be found here.
What caterers can do to promote healthier lifestyles for their customers
Caterers from across the foodservice industry can do the following:
Make small changes to menus to reduce salt/sugar content
As we know from various studies and news reports, to maintain optimal health, it is important to keep sugar and salt consumption to a minimum and within the daily guidelines. Simple things like using unsalted butter or sourcing ingredients with no added sugar can make significant changes to the dishes that are created, also making the food healthier.
Create more recipes for vegans and vegetarians
As more and more people are changing to vegan and vegetarian diets, as a lifestyle choice or even for health reasons, it is important to stay ahead of the demand for more exciting and desirable food creations.
According to a study, almost 12 million Brits (22%) say they will follow a vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian diet by the end of this year (2019) and the numbers will increase year on year as more people opt for a healthier lifestyle diet consisting of less, or no, red meat and follow plant-based diets. In fact, the study continues to say – the diet that will have the most new recruits in 2019 looks set to be veganism, as 2.2 million intend to take up this lifestyle. This would see the total number of vegans increase by a remarkable 327%, to a total of 2.9 million people.
Vegetarianism remains the most popular of the major diets. It already has 3.6 million followers and an additional 1.5 million people are looking to ditch the steak in favour of greener pastures in 2019. This would bring the total vegetarian population up to 5.2 million.
Caterers must continue to use their creative ideas to devise recipes that cater to all customer groups and in turn, attract more business. Gone are the days when vegans or vegetarians were expected to settle for basic/bland dishes provided as an afterthought to their mainstream menu. (image example.).
Caterers can gain and retain customer loyalty by providing healthy, tasty and nutritious dishes. By reviewing and improving their menus, they will reap the rewards of new and repeat business.
Add nutritional value to dishes with healthier ingredients
Simply adding some extra ingredients, almost by way of a fortification process, caterers can add foods that are high in certain nutritional values and help spruce up a recipe.
Using more vegetables such as spinach or kale, high in folate and vitamins C, A and K, or creating more dishes using less red meat and more fish (containing omega-3, an essential fatty acid) can provide additional nutrients in meals, which will in turn benefit consumers.
Catering for those with food intolerances and allergies is also a top priority. Ensuring that your menus are diverse and varied for all customer groups will mean you can cater to a wider customer base. Of course, Erudus will provide all the allergen and nutritional information to assist with your recipe creations, saving you time and money.
You can devise wholesome and tasty recipes for consumers with allergies or specific dietary requirements, by utilising the solutions such as recipe builder and allergen & nutritional data search on Erudus and having instant access to the legally required food data.
5 a DAY!-Encourage customers to eat healthier with images on menus/fliers
People ‘buy with their eyes’ so once you’ve created your recipes, you can include glossy images of your dishes on the menus and in-house posters or promote certain healthier options. Encouraging customers to eat plenty of vegetables or fruit to help meet the ‘5 a day’ challenge can be promoted with ‘special offers’ on fliers. Especially during Healthy Eating Week!
Provide calorie listings
Although this is not currently compulsory, leading charities such as Diabetes UK are asking businesses to introduce calorie labelling and according to the results of their survey ‘Three in four people (76%) said they believed that restaurants and cafes should display calorie information on their menus’.
The FSA is also calling for calorie labelling and the Government is consulting on legislation to mandate consistent calorie labelling in England. The FSS (Food Standards Scotland) has also launched a consultation into proposals to make food eaten outside of the home healthier.
By offering people a way to make more responsible and informed decisions, when they eat out, as well as gain the dietary and health benefits that follow you will be building trust and encouraging repeat business.
So if you aren’t already doing so – Get ahead of the curve and provide calorie counts on your menus!
Safety first! – Provide allergen info and dietary suitability on menus
Erudus already gives you this capability, so you can access the nutritional data and allergen information for ingredients listed within the platform. Going one step further for your customers and providing this information, such as ‘suitable for vegans’ ‘gluten free’ ‘may contain nuts’ etc., is a welcome gesture. Listing the food data on your menus, will save you and your colleagues time and mean that customers can order with confidence.
Seek inspiration for healthier dishes
If you are looking for inspiration for healthier dishes, then there are many avenues to explore. Social media is a great way to share variations of food dishes and collaborate with other caterers, chefs and even discover what customers want on the food menus. Search online for other chefs, recipe websites and recommended menus. Influence Digest provides a list here of the top 10 healthy food chefs on social media. The rankings are based on the social media following of healthy food chefs.
Create healthier dishes and inspired menus using the Erudus Recipe Builder
So, as you can see above, there are two variations of a ‘Tuna Pasta bake’
Searching for the same quantities of basic ingredients, using recipe builder, for this dish, we were able to create a healthier version of the same dish by changing the ingredients we added to the recipe.
This meant the healthier version of the ‘Tuna Pasta Bake’ was improved to the following:
- Gluten free, so now has increased the potential customer base
- Now contains 35% less fat and 26% less saturated fat
- Now contains 19% less sugar and 18% less salt
All by using recipe builder and replacing a few ingredients with:
- Unsalted butter
- Semi-skimmed milk
- Gluten-free pasta
- Gluten-free flour
- Reduced fat cheddar cheese
- Tuna chunks in spring water
Using the recipe builder solution, whilst creating recipes and meal plans, couldn’t be easier and will give caterers the options to provide menus with a higher quality nutritional value and healthier alternatives to classic or unique dishes.
As you can see in our ‘Tuna Pasta Bake’ example, you can also get a breakdown of the whole recipe’s nutritional information and reference intake per serving and per 100 grams, as well as any allergens and suitability of dietary needs for all ingredients in the recipe.
We’d love to see your recipes
Caterers can also submit their new healthier recipes for us to showcase on Erudus.com whether they be vegan, vegetarian, or simply different variations of their dishes. Why not give recipe builder a go today and tell us what ingredients you replaced or recipe you changed and how it made a difference to your meal creation, we would love to share them on our website – please email firstname.lastname@example.org