How to Incorporate Superfoods Into Your MenuMake your restaurant's menu 'super' healthy with these superfood tips from the experts.
“Superfoods” is one of the top buzzwords used by health-conscious consumers today. According to a study from Mintel, the number of new food and beverage products containing the words, “superfood,” “supergrain” or “superfruit” increased by 202 percent globally between 2011 and 2015.
Kale, blueberries and salmon are among a growing list of nutritional powerhouses that have earned the superfood label. As consumers gravitate towards healthier food choices, many are keeping their eyes peeled for dishes that contain superfoods while dining out.
In fact, adding superfoods to your restaurant’s menu can be a real moneymaking opportunity. A Nielsen survey found 88 percent of people are willing to pay more money for healthier foods, including those that are natural, GMO-free and have no artificial coloring or flavors.
As a restaurant owner, you can harvest the benefits of this trend by incorporating superfoods into your menu. Here are a few ideas on how to do it.
Examine your oils and fats
Chef Susan Teton, a health and wellness coach, said that restaurants should consider switching out their fats and oils for healthier alternatives. Restaurants often use cheaper oils and fats to save money, but these aren’t always the best options for the guest, she said.
Steer away from bad oils and fats, such as lard, palm oil and oils labeled “partially hydrogenated,” which can cause inflammation, leading to damaged tissue and elevated blood pressure. Instead, she suggested using “high-quality olive oil and flax oil, and non-GMO soy and canola oils.”
Get more value from your veggies
Jared Flowers, senior consultant at National Restaurant Consultants, suggested using fresh vegetables and cross-utilizing ingredients to get the most out of them. For example, although avocados are considered a superfood, they can be pricey. Restaurants can save money by using the same avocado base as a cream for a chicken dish or for making guacamole.
Chef Keidi Awadu, a raw food chef in Las Vegas, stressed the importance of including fresh vegetables on your menu. “As a raw vegan food chef, I use lots of fresh greens,” he said. “The colors are very indicative of the mineral density as foods. Make plates deeply colorful and bright,” he said.
Spice things up
Restaurants can also experiment with using spices with medicinal properties in dishes, such as cinnamon, said Awadu. In addition to being a flavor enhancer, cinnamon helps the body regulate insulin intake and blood sugar, he said.
Awadu also suggested incorporating ginger into your recipes. “Ginger is almost a miracle,” he said. From helping to balance the digestive system to improving heart disease risk factors, ginger has a number of health benefits — and some studies suggest it even has cancer-preventing properties, he said.
Turmeric is another highly versatile spice with helpful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can be incorporated into your menu. According to Brad “Paco” Miller, a senior consultant at California Restaurant Consulting, turmeric is commonly utilized in juices, but can also be included in veggie burgers, seafood and meats.
Get creative with garnishments
Restaurants should be willing to get creative when incorporating superfoods into their menus. Fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha can be used “as an acidic addition to tacos, fried rice and salads,” said Miller. He also suggested garnishing seafood dishes like poke-style tuna with seaweed, or using chia seeds to add texture to lemonades and desserts or foams.
You can also add powdered superfoods to rubs or mix them into sauces, such as matcha beurre blanc, for added nutrition, said chef Jenny Dorsey. Acai powder works in oatmeals, smoothies and acai bowls, she said, and “whole berries are great chopped and sprinkled on top of savory and sweet foods or steeped into a sauce or syrup.”
By making just a few changes to your menu offerings, your restaurant can get in on the superfoods movement and bring more health-conscious customers into your establishment, said Flowers. “People are now conscious of what they are putting in their body. I would steer everyone to put healthy options on their menu.”