Category Archives: Health and Nutrition

Tuesday Tip: Revisit Common Food Safety Practices this Fourth of July Holiday!

Happy Fourth of July!

As we celebrate our nation’s independence over this holiday, it is common for restaurants to experience increased volume. As Restaurant.org points out, it is always important to follow proper food safety, but this increased traffic provides an opportunity to revisit some basics. Here are a few quick food safety tips via Restaurant.org.

  1. Keep food out of the temperature danger zone

With this increase in volume, there is a tendency to bring out large quantities of ingredients to make prep time quicker. However, it’s important to make sure these ingredients don’t fall below the danger temperature mark. To avoid this, only pull out limited quantities. Shop our large selection of food prep thermometers here.

  1. Double-check sanitizer concentration levels

Any surface in which food comes into contact with must be cleaned and sanitized. When there’s need for quick table turns, this sometimes gets overlooked. Assign someone on the shift to check sanitizer levels every hour. Shop cleaning supplies here.

  1. Wash your hands

This may seem obvious, but it is the most important element of good food safety, and the easiest way to reduce the risk of cross contamination. The faster we work, the less inclined we are to slow down for handwashing. Keep all sinks stocked with soap and reinforce this importance with your staff. Shop soap and restroom supplies here.

Farm to Table_Cows

Farm to Table: What is it?

The Farm to Table concept has taken the restaurant industry by storm the last few years. But what exactly does it mean? Farm to Table is the process of purchasing food that has been locally grown directly from the farmers who grew it. The purpose is for restaurants to use fresher ingredients that are more environmentally friendly and also help the local economy at the same time.

 

The GoodFarm to Table_Vegetables

The Farm to Table concept has many advantages including health and local economic benefits, being environmentally friendly, and helping the restaurant’s bottom line.

Over the last few decades, there has been a growing disconnect of knowledge about where our food comes from and how it is grown. Instead, foods are losing their quality at the expense of quantity after being dosed in chemicals to make “giant” foods. Farm to table eateries are aiming to fight against this new normal in the food industry to provide great dishes made of ingredients that customers know their origins. While not all farm to table partnerships are organically grown, buying directly from local farmers allows restaurants to grow relationships directly with the growers to ensure that their produce and meats are being grown in a way they approve.

When it comes to farm to table operations, animals to be used for meat are also grown for quality instead of quantity. The meats that yield from these animals have less fat and calories and at the same time have higher amounts of fatty acids, vitamin E and other important nutrients. Farm to table restaurants also often have a greater focus on vegetables, allowing restaurants to offer more well-rounded meals between the higher quality meats and the larger focus on vegetables.

As increasingly more restaurants utilize small farmers to support their operations, those farmers are in-turn able to create sustainable operations, lowering the cost of the food and eventually helping the restaurant’s bottom line. Creating a paradox to the reason foods began to be mass produced and genetically modified in the first place.

 

The Bad

Farm to Table_ VegetablesWhile farm to table operations boast many wonderful benefits, there will always be challenges. Some believe that the concept, as well as the foodies supporting the concept are taking it to extremes. In fact, ads have been created to show just how extreme it has been taken.

Being dedicated to purchasing meats locally can be very limiting. The U.S. Department of Agriculture limits the amount and type of meat that can processed by small farm operations. This fact and the geographical challenges of landlocked states not being able to offer sea foods, etc. may cause headaches for restaurant owners.

An additional challenge that restaurant owners will face is being able to source their produce in the off season. It is recommended to discuss with your partnered farmer about the use of a greenhouse to be able to offer this produce in the off-season. Otherwise, it may be difficult to find Indiana sweet corn under all of that snow in the middle of January!

However, all in all, we are loving the farm to table concept.

 

Indianapolis Farm to Table Restaurants

Traders Point Creamery

Grilled Cheese from Traders Point Creamery

Indiana has a rich agriculture landscape, which makes it the perfect location for the farm to table concept! Are you in the Indianapolis area? Try out these fantastic farm to table restaurants!

Supplies and Equipment

Searching for the farm to table “look” to go along with your processes? We have you covered! From glasses to chairs and tables, Central Restaurant is your one-stop shop for supplies and equipment!

House-Made Condiments and Dressings

Forget the store bought ketchup, mustard and ranch dressing. It’s time to get creative and healthy with your salad dressings and condiments! House-made salad dressings and condiments differentiate your dishes and keep your customers coming back asking “where can I buy this?!”

House-made condiments and dressings are simple to make and help provide a better experience to your customers. Grab your mixing bowls and whisks – it’s time to get to work!

Benefits

There are countless benefits to a restaurant utilizing house-made sauces. A few of the most important benefits include:

Orange Fennel Vinaigrette | Photo: My Recipes

Orange Fennel Vinaigrette | Photo: My Recipes

  • Health – with the growing concern of healthy eating options, not just ‘diet’ foods, house-made dressings and condiments give customers an incentive to try your newest dish without worrying about the fat content and preservatives in the sauce.
  • Freshness – customers want to know their food is made with real, fresh ingredients. Making sauces in-house on a weekly basis makes a major difference in the the taste of your dish. If you have the space to plant a garden and grow your own ingredients, that is even better! With spring right around the corner, it is a great time to start planning your garden!
  • Uniqueness – when customers are dining out, they want to know they are paying for something they could not just pick up from the store. The sauce used can take an ordinary burger to a phenomenal burger and create regular customers – make sure you use the best of the best!

Recipes to Try

Homemade Spinach Pesto. Photo: Simplistically Living

Homemade Spinach Pesto | Photo: Simplistically Living

Need some help getting started? Check out these delicious recipes!

 

 

 

 

After your sauces are created, be sure your sauce cups are up to date! And as always, speak to one of our helpful product consultants for any other supplies or equipment you need to make your restaurant great! Call them at 800-215-9293 or chat live with them now.

 

 

Featured Image: Simply Scratch

Recipes to Get You Ripped! Or, Just Eat Healthier

After the clock hits midnight, the New Year begins and everyone’s New Year’s resolutions will start (some the next day, some on Monday). For many, their goal is to drop the pounds and hit the gym more often. While you can work out until you turn blue in the face, cooking and eating healthier is one of the most essential parts to losing weight. Eating healthy doesn’t require salads and plain chicken all the time either! So many websites offer healthy versions of your favorites including pasta, casseroles, “fried” food and more! Here are some great healthy recipes to get you going – but be sure to do some of your own research to find what you really love.

Breakfast

Photo Credit: SkinnyTaste

Photo Credit: SkinnyTaste

Blueberry Banana Bread (SkinnyTaste)

Green Morning Smoothie (Food Network)

Spinach Artichoke Feta Breakfast Bake (SkinnyTaste)

Petite Crust-less Quiche (SkinnyTaste)

Vanilla Bean and Blueberry Chia Pudding (The Healthy Family & Home)

Lunch

Lasagna Soup (SkinnyTaste)

Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup (Delish)

Photo Credit: Better Homes and Gardens

Photo Credit: Better Homes and Gardens

Zesty Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad (SkinnyTaste)

Mediterranean Chicken Wraps (Better Homes and Gardens)

Egg Roll in a Bowl (Frugal Healthy Life)

Dinner

One Pot Chicken Fajita Pasta (SkinnyTaste)

Chinese Green Beans with Ground Turkey over Rice (Weary Chef)

Skinny Italian Stuffed Peppers (The Skinny Fork)

Cilantro Lime Chicken Sliders with Tomato Guacamole (Little Broken)

Lighter Honey-Sesame Chicken (Cooking Classy)

Photo Credit: SkinnyTaste

Photo Credit: SkinnyTaste

Snacks

Greek 7 Layer Dip (SkinnyTaste)

Winter Fruit Salad with Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing (Cooking Classy)

Zucchini Parmesan Chips (Damn Delicious)

100-Calorie Apple Oatmeal Muffins (Fit Bottomed Eats)

Mini Cauliflower Pizzas (Damn Delicious)

Desserts

Nicer Krispie Squares (Plant Powered Kitchen)

5-Ingredient Almond Cake with Fresh Berries (SkinnyTaste)

Skinny Mocha Banana Crunch Ice Cream (Whole & Heavenly Oven)

Greek Yogurt Strawberry Popsicles (Simply Healthy Home)

Peanut Butter Banana Cups (Skinny Ms.)

Let’s Do This!

Ready to get busy in the kitchen with these healthy recipes? Before you start, shop Central and make sure you have all of the supplies you’ll need including baking sheets, muffin pans, blenders, knives and more! Call one of our superheroes (our Product Consultants) with any questions you might have at 800-215-9293, or you can chat with them live!

Healthy Restaurant Choices for the New Year

The New Year always brings new resolutions for the people around the world, and one of the most popular is to get in shape or lose the weight you put on during the holiday months. When many people go on a diet they fear that they won’t be able to enjoy eating out, or eat out in the first place. More and more restaurants are finally starting to notice the upswing in healthy eating, so they’ve swapped up their menu to accompany those requests. Even restaurants that don’t have a specific low calorie menu are offering up healthier fare so you can dine out and still enjoy yourself!

Restaurants and Specialized Menus

Many of the chain restaurants across the United States have their own version, or something similar, to a low calorie or low carb menu. These restaurants are especially great when traveling or doing a road trip because at least one is likely to pop up along the way.Healthy Restaurant Meals

Now that you know where to get some healthy restaurant food, it’s time to think about what to get!

Healthiest Restaurant Meals

Here are some of the healthiest restaurant meals, straight from The Daily Beast:

  1. Jumbo Shrimp Rosemary Spiedini from Romano’s Macaroni Grill
  2. Chicken, Spinach and Tomato Pasta from Bob Evan’s
  3. Venetian Apricot Chicken from Olive Garden
  4. Grilled Chicken Breast with plain Baked Potato and Broccoli from Bob Evan’s
  5. Pan-Seared Snapper “Acqua Pazza” from Romano’s Macaroni Grill
  6. Red Rock Shrimp with Asparagus and Side Salad from LongHorn Steakhouse
  7. Garlic-Grilled Jumbo Shrimp from Red Lobster
  8. Grilled Shrimp and Island Rice from Applebee’s
  9. Potato Crusted Flounder from Bob Evan’s
  10. Grilled Chicken on the Barbie from Outback Steakhouse
  11. Capellini Pomodoro from Romano’s Macaroni Grill
  12. Asiago Peppercorn Steak from Applebee’s
  13. Classic Sirloin Steak from Chili’s
  14. Vegetable Ginger Stir Fry from Friendly’s
  15. Seafood Brodetto from Olive Garden
  16. Sweet and Spicy Grilled Shrimp
  17. FitFare Grilled Tilapia from Denny’s
  18. Grilled Dijon Chicken and Portobellos from Applebee’s
  19. Salmon with Garlic and Herbs from Chili’s
  20. Grilled Lobster, Shrimp and Scallops from Red Lobsterfoodiesfeed.com_excelent-beef-steak-vegetables
  21. Margarita Grilled Chicken from Chili’s
  22. BBQ Grilled Chicken with Grilled Green Beans from Ruby Tuesday’s
  23. Savory Pork Chops from IHOP
  24. Grilled Chicken Sandwich from Hooters
  25. Maple-Glazed Chicken from Red Lobster

Healthful Eating at Restaurants Without Light Menus

The biggest dilemma for dieters comes when they visit a restaurant that’s not a chain, and doesn’t have a specialized menu or healthy options. You can still choose something that’s good for you on their menu, you just have to avoid certain terms that are geared towards caloric bombs. “Restaurant menus are designed to entice your sense of taste, not tell you whether the foods they’re advertising are healthy,” explains CNN. It’s all about decoding the restaurant’s terminology.

For foods that are fried, you’ll find “crunchy, tempura, battered, crispy, breaded, crusted, golden or sizzling” popping up on the menu.

If you’re trying to avoid sugary foods, you really need to be aware of what goes in restaurants’ famous sauces. Things like “Teriyaki, Barbeque, glazed, sticky or honey dipped” all contain loads of sugar.  While cakes and cookies all might obviously be high in sugar, be aware of sauces and dressings.

If low calorie options are your thing, absolutely avoid high calorie keywords such as “loaded, stuffed, creamy, cheesy, gooey, smothered, melted, rich or velvety”. These comfort foods may sound appealing, but they’ll definitely leave you feeling guilty and stuffed yourself.

As you can see, you can still dine out and enjoy yourself all while staying on track with your New Years resolution! From ordering from a specialized menu, to knowing what terms to stay away from, restaurants across the nation are catering more towards a healthy lifestyle.

National School Lunch Week Asks Schools to Get in the Game

This week is National School Lunch Week. Presented by the School Nutrition Association, NSLW was created in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, and is a celebratory week of events and activities promoting the benefits of the National School Lunch Program. According to the SNA, the NSLP provides 5.1 billion lunches annually–over 3 million kids served every day. The SNA created a helpful toolkit to give ideas to schools to celebrate this week. The theme for this year’s program is “Get in the Game with School Lunch.” The goal of this theme is to emphasize the importance of balancing healthy eating and physical activity for kids.

Tips for Success

The SNA has provided a list of tips to have a successful NSLW. One of the main tips is to get students involved. It could be having a sports-themed art contest, or creating a survey about favorite menu items. No matter what you do, it’s important to make the students feel like they’re involved in the celebration. Another tip is to decorate. It’s a celebration, so it should look the part! NSLW posters can be found at the SNA’s website.

The SNA also recommends keeping parents in the loop about NSLW. There are brochures available on their website to send home with your menus so that parents know it is a special week in the cafeteria. Finally, what promotion would be complete without social media? Utilize your school’s Twitter, Facebook, newsletter, blog and more to get the word out about NSLW.

Celebration Ideaskid soccer

There are several ways to engage students, parents and faculty during this week. One idea is to bring in a local athlete to talk to your students about the importance of eating healthy for energy. It’s one thing for Mr. Anderson to tell the class to eat healthy. It’s another thing for DEREK JETER to tell the class to eat healthy! That’s what I’m talking about (Okay, so Derek Jeter probably won’t be available to talk to your school, but local high school or college athletes would!).

Another idea shared by the SNA is to distribute pieces of paper shaped like footballs or baseballs to students, asking them what their favorite sports or activities are, as well as what healthy meal they should eat beforehand for energy. You could post or hang these in the cafeteria for the week.

For staff, it might be fun to ask them to wear sports costumes for lunch. Whether it’s their favorite team’s jersey, or as a referee, getting staff involved really helps drive enthusiasm for the program.

Get in the Game

For more information on NSLW, click here. And if you need any kitchen equipment or supplies, don’t hesitate to visit our website or call 800-215-9293 to speak to one of our helpful product consultants

Image at top photo credit: School Nutrition Association

Lightening Up Dishes for a Healthy Menu

In recent years, the restaurant industry has followed suit with health trends that are spreading across the nation. More and more customers are wanting healthy options when they’re dining out. When restaurants have those select options, customers are more likely to go out rather than stay in especially during the week. Creating a healthy menu is actually a fairly simple thing to do, using ingredient swaps and different cooking techniques. Keep reading for ideas on how to give your guests a more healthy selection!

Healthy Menu Trends

For the past two years, restaurants have been adding health

Image via Matthew Gallant

Image via Matthew Gallant

y menu options that are lower in calories, fat and sodium. Out of the top 100 largest restaurant chains, “there was an overall 12 percent drop in calories, and researchers believe that’ll be enough to have a ‘significant impact on the nation’s obesity crisis’,” Medical Daily states. You can still offer the triple bacon cheeseburger, just be sure there are healthy options on your menu so customers can choose wisely. Laws were eradicated in 2010 for New York and California to require calorie count information on all fast food menus. If restaurants don’t comply, they’ll be paying an up to $2,000 fine!

Another increasingly popular menu trend is to add on calorie counts next to menu items. By seeing how many calories are in certain items customers can be persuaded to choose a better option, and feel good about their dining experience.

Where to Start

When you’re first deciding on how to upgrade your menu into a more nutritious one, think about some of the most obvious and easiest changes to make. Salads aren’t the only healthy option you can offer! Here are some examples you could use depending on the genre of your restaurant:

If you’re a sub and sandwich shop, think about ways to cut down on breads laden with high calories and sauces. Offer a lighter bread, or make a sandwich “naked” by turning it into a salad. Sauces can be secret calorie bombs, so offer fat-free or light options. Italian restaurants can offer the option of whole wheat pasta to their menu, along with more tomato-based sauces. Adding grilled chicken, fish or seafood are great healthy add-ons, too.

Best Health states that normally, “When it comes to ethnic food, Japanese, Thai, Greek and Indian restaurants are often easier on the waistline than Mexican, Chinese or Italian establishments because they feature grilled meats, non-fried options such as fresh spring rolls and guilt-free dips like Tzatziki.” You can use these ideas, like grilled and non-fried options, at your restaurant.

Image via Steffany

Image via Steffany

Tips & Tricks

Transforming your recipes into lighter versions doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice taste or flavor – there are healthy replacement ingredients for just about everything! One of the most popular ingredient swaps is low-fat plain or Greek yogurt. You can use this ingredient to replace oil in baking, as mayonnaise, soups, desserts and more. If you’re in need of some cheese, choose a strong cheese like Bleu or Gorgonzola. You don’t need to add a ton to get flavor in your recipes!

Do you sauté a lot at your restaurant? A couple of tablespoons of vegetable broth can be used as a replacement for butter or oil. You can use this method for stir frying or as a the base of a sauce. When serving up chicken or turkey, remove the skin. Yes, it’s one of the most flavorful pieces, but it’s exceptionally high in calories. Making your own marinade for meats not only cuts down on cost, but lets you control how much oil and fat is added. You can find some great recipes using vinegar, citrus and fruit juices or wine for marinades.

Do you serve up vegetables with butter or salads with dressing already mixed in? You might want to try out squeezing on some citrus juice. This juice packs on the flavor without weighing those previously healthy options.

In the cold winter months, patrons request bowls of hot soup on the daily. Instead of using heavy cream, evaporated milk, butter or cheese to thicken up your soups, you can add pureed vegetables, such as carrots, chickpeas or beans, to add some body.

Following the healthy menu trend will only help your restaurant out in the long run. Try out the easy ingredient swaps, test them out on a few items and see how the crowd reacts. Your restaurant can be a destination for good eats with healthy options so customers will want to dine out and not stay in! If you’re in need of new supplies to revamp your menu into a healthy one, shop Central today! Our knowledgeable Product Consultants are on hand to help you with every single need you might have!

Food Trend Blog

Top Food Trends at NRA 2014

Another NRA Show is in the books. If you attended, we hope you had a great show! The Central team had a chance to settle down from the excitement and share with you some of the top trends we saw coming out of the show.

Gluten-Free Foods

One of the biggest trends at NRA was gluten-free options. Of course, it has been gaining momentum for a couple of years now, but seeing what some companies are doing is really cool. Take for example, Kiki’s Gluten Free Foods. They introduced a gluten-free deep dish pizza, which a few years ago would’ve been unheard of. And Deya Gluten Free is making a gluten free flour where the main ingredient is dried egg whites. These new options should make life for people with Celiac disease or gluten allergies a lot better.

Natural Ingredients

As we start to see a more health-conscious consumer, it’s only natural to see healthier options being introduced. We saw a ton of healthy options, from burgers made with veggies and chia seeds to milk made with quinoa. Another popular trend was brands advertising products made with no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or corn syrup.

Better-For-You School Options

There are several companies trying to develop healthier options for school systems. According to Food Business News, exhibitors such as Skeeter Nut Free were introducing snacks that meet the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards that go into effect July 1st. In Skeeter Nut Free’s case, they introduced single-serve bags of graham crackers that are 100% nut free. Other exhibitors, such as Hormel, are offering options such as the Fuse Burger, which combines ground turkey with spinach, brown rice, roasted onions and dried cherries, to deliver a burger with a favorable nutrition profile.

Which trends did you see at NRA 2014 that stood out to you? Let us know in the comments section below.