Tag Archives: healthy

Foodservice Trends and Predictions for 2012

Last December we put together a list of 10 foodservice trends for 2011.  Some that topped the list and stayed strong were food trucks, social media, better nutrition and mobile ordering.

For 2012, there’s much being talked about.  Several blogs, lists and articles are surfacing with upcoming trends and there’s so much great information available.  So this year, not only will you get a list from us, but each one on the list will include a link for more information so you take a look at all of the trends yourself.  Enjoy!

Image: 3rdworldman/MorgueFile

Handing Over the Control

Today’s world is very particular, especially when it comes to food.  Fast Casual reports 2012 will be the year customers gain more control over their dining experience.  They mention custom ordering systems will aid with this—which is what we’ve seen all year.  From tablets to smartphone apps, restaurants are certainly headed in the customizable direction.  One concern earlier this year with the mobile devices was if they would take away from customer service.  When we attended the NRA show in May, we learned tablets won’t take away from customer service, but in fact enhance the experience as the wait staff will have more time to focus on customers. Read Fast Casual’s full trends list here.

The Best of Both Worlds

Some customers want healthier menu items while others just want something that tastes really good and aren’t too concerned with nutritional value.  For 2012, restaurants will start catering to both types of customers.  Many sites including QSR Magazine call this trend the “Double-Sided Menu.”  The double-sided menu will give customers the best of both worlds—healthy options and not-so-healthy options.  Read QSR’s top five trends here. 

Southern Foods

Image: Jdurham/MorgueFile

During tougher times, people turn to what makes them feel good, comfortable and safe–which in many cases, is food.  According to Monkey Dish’s trend list, southern comfort foods will become more popular.  Chefs will be making favorites such as grits, chicken and dumplings or smokehouse barbeque.  They may even put their own spin on the recipes too.  Read Monkey Dish’s full article here, and check out all of their 2012 predictions here.

 

 

 Healthier Kid’s Meals

Restaurants and QSRs all over the country have been upgrading their kid’s menus to be healthier; so this is definitely not something that’s brand new.  But according to another QSR article, healthier meals for children will be on the agenda.  This will tie in extremely well with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” to help curb childhood obesity.  Read more trends from QSR here.

Plate Shapes

At Central, one of the trends we’ve seen in restaurants is an interest in unique or customizable shapes for dinnerware.  It looks like these unique shapes will continue in 2012, but in a different way.  In an article by SmartBlog on Restaurants, they reveal chefs will be changing their food presentations to be more spread out as opposed to high.  This would make a change for a higher demand of square plates instead of round.  And as a side note on ordering plates, if you do a custom order—make sure to order extras to avoid any trouble in the future if the vendor is no longer able to provide you with your custom dinnerware. Read SmartBlog on Restaurant’s full blog here.

Social Media for Small Businesses

This trend seems familiar from last year, doesn’t it? It was on the list, but it’s different for 2012.  According to Duct Tape Marketing, they predict social media will impact smaller businesses.  This stems from their statement that social networks will move in the direction of being their own marketplaces.  So far, sites like Facebook and Twitter have made restaurants successful with spreading the word about themselves and connecting with fans—so now is the time for the smaller places to get on board and take advantage of this free advertising.  (If you need help, check out our tutorials for Facebook and Twitter).  Read all of Duct Tape Marketing’s small business predictions here.

24/7 Breakfast

Image: Jeltovski/MorgueFile

Looking to bakery trends, Modern Baking says several bakery cafes keep breakfast on the menu all day.  With this in demand, many other bakeries and restaurants may follow suit and also provide breakfast items throughout the day.  Read all of Modern Baking’s bakery trends here.

 

 

Local

According to the National Restaurant Association’s list of food trends, one that tops the list is going local.  This could be anything from meat to alcoholic beverages. Going local is a great way to support your community and to also know where food is coming from.  Luke Patterson, owner of Luke’s Joint and a few other establishments in Arcata, Calif. is one of Central’s customers who buys local—and it’s been very successful.  Read about his experience here and read more from the NRA’s trends list here.

The Signature Item

Image: Maxstraeten/MorgueFile

Whopper. Big Mac. Soup and Salad. Bloomin’ Onion.  We didn’t mention restaurant names yet you most likely know where each of these items comes from.  In a recent Nation’s Restaurant News article, they interviewed Galletta Oliver of Ink Foundry who said the importance of the “signature item” will increase.  That being said, restaurants will create or promote menu items that will make customers choose their restaurant over another.  Read all of NRN’s predictions here.

With these predictions just being a handful of many, it looks as though 2012 will be a busy year for the foodservice industry.  We look forward to seeing how these predictions go and we’ll be sure to follow them throughout the year and keep you posted on how they are doing.

Central wishes you and yours a very happy New Year.  We look forward to a great 2012 for everyone!

Central’s Week in Brief: August 19, 2011

Every Friday Central brings you stories from the week that you might have missed, but that are definitely worth a look. We feature food news covering everything from the weird to the wonderful in the world of restaurants, schools, the military and more. It’s our way to help you go into the weekend with a little extra knowledge and maybe even a project or recipe to try out!

 1. While food trucks and restaurants have been battling it out since the trend began, a part of Canada may just be figuring out how to make the relationship work.  This Calgary Herald article discusses a new food truck pilot program, which essentially maps out where food trucks can park. One of the individuals interviewed even told the reporter he had received calls from restaurants and pubs in the area asking he park near them!

2. Lately restaurants have been getting slack for unhealthy menu items, but let’s not forget those who really are making changes for the better.  MSN Fitbie covered the topic showcasing some of these healthier changes such as Cheesecake Factory’s SkinnyLicious menu items, McDonald’s revised Happy Meal that replaces fries with apples and Chick-fil-A’s multigrain oatmeal.

3. Where do Millennials (ages 16-24) enjoy dining the most?  Quick-service restaurants.  It makes sense, after all they are always on the go.  Convenience Store News recently wrote about the Executive Insights report that looked into this, finding 20 percent of Generation Y go to a QSR every other day.  Some favorite QSRs found in the study included Chick-fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds, Chipolte and Boston Market.

4. Schools are continuously looking for ways to curb childhood obesity.  This USA Today article discusses one of the latest topics from a School Nutrition Association (SNA) survey, which looked into how long students actually have for lunch.  They found the average time was 25-30 minutes, but after factoring in using the restroom then waiting in the lunch line, it’s approximately 10-15 minutes.  SNA found healthy foods can take longer to eat and in a rush, students opt for the unhealthier quicker items. Perhaps making lunch a little longer could help in solving the childhood obesity problem?

5. “Rockuccinos” and “You Shook Me All Night Long Moscatos” makes one wonder if rock bands are taking over the foodservice industry.  Well, it might be a possibility! KISS will be opening up a coffee house in Las Vegas, which will be their second location (the first being in Myrtle Beach).  Then band AC/DC recently announced a new partnership with New South Wales on a wine collection.  This New York Post article mentions some of the names which are “Back in Black” Shiraz, “Highway to Hell” Cabernet Sauvignon and “Hells Bells” Sauvignon Blanc.

Image from MorgueFile

Living with Dietary Restrictions: Vegetarian and Vegan

Remember back when you were younger and you parents demanded you eat your veggies?   This more than likely happened to all of us, but for some it was a message that really stuck.   Much of that growing population falls into the vegetarian (and on the stricter end, vegan) category.   A study done by Vegetarian Times found that the U.S. alone has, “7.3 million people follow a vegetarian-based diet” and “1 million, of those are vegans.”

Image from MorgueFileUnlike our previous Dietary Restriction blogs on being dairy and gluten free, going vegetarian or vegan is most often a choice rather than a dietary necessity and often the reasons behind it are different depending on the person.  Many make the decision based on the need or want to personally be healthier while at the same time it can be done for the health of the Environment.   There is also a high concern for animal welfare that brings many to the conclusion of eating sans meat and /or dairy.   For a vast majority one glimpse into the horrifying realities of factory farms and their treatment of animals used for food is more than enough to both turn their stomach and switch their outlook on consuming animal products of any type.   Taking these motivations and concerns into consideration, it is becoming increasingly common to see more options, creativity and innovation in the vegetarian and often vegan items available.  Often one taste of these delicious dishes (more often than not accompanied by increased education on the subject) is just enough to open new eyes to the vegetarian and vegan world.

What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

While vegetarian and veganism may sound one in the same to many there is a strict difference between the two.  Often vegetarianism is seen as more of a food choice while veganism is seen as a lifestyle due to the whole-life philosophy behind the decision.

Vegetarian:  Vegetarians are the more lax of the two in terms of animal products that they are willing to consume.  According to VegetarianVegan.com, “Vegetarian is a blanket term used to describe a person who does not consume meat, poultry, fish, or seafood.”  This means that there are several sub-categories of vegetarianism, but the basic understanding is that a vegetarian does not consume any type of animal meat, yet does occasionally use milk, eggs and other animal products or by-products.   Sub-categories of vegetarianism include more strict eaters such as ovo-lacto-vegetarians (do not consume eggs/milk), ovo-vegetarian (do consume eggs, not milk), lacto-vegetarian (do consume milk, not eggs) and the strictest for which is vegan.

Vegan: While vegan is a form of vegetarianism, as stated previously, it is the strictest version.   Those considered vegan do not eat any animal products or by-products including everything from meat to dairy to even honey.   Many vegans are also against using animal products like wool and silk in daily life as well.                      

What products should be avoided?

Image from MorgueFileFor both choices it is important that all meat products including poultry and fish are avoided.  However, vegans take the restrictions just a bit further to avoid animal byproducts as well.  The most obvious of these byproducts are items like eggs and dairy (milk, cheese, ice cream, etc.).  However, there are also many common products that come from animals that we may not even normally be aware of.  Kidshealth.org gives the following examples: gelatin (made using meat byproducts), lanolin (made from wool), rennet (an enzyme found in the stomach of calves, young goats, and lambs that’s used in cheese-making), honey and beeswax (made by bees), silk (made by silkworms), shellac (the resinous secretion of the tiny lac insect) and cochineal (a red dye derived from the cochineal insect).

What are some alternatives?

Because animal products aren’t on the top allergen list, it can sometimes be difficult to know what does and doesn’t work.  One benefit to eating vegan is that oftentimes items that are dairy-free may also be vegan due to the lack of milk product used.  This also means that there are a ton of different lines of milk and cheese alternatives made from soy, rice, almonds and even hemp (Indy Vegans has a great list comparing each type to help in making your decision). However, there are many  other great food options as well.

Another great option are the Follow Your Heart products.  This line offers everything from eggless mayonnaise (called Vegenaise) to vegan cheese, sour cream and cream cheese which is all animal product free.  If you’re in the mood for something a little sweeter online stores like Chicago SoyDairy and Literally Divine have got great options for your sweet tooth.  Chicago SoyDairy specializes in items like marshmallows (even non-animal product Easter Peeps called Tweets) and ice cream.  Literally Divine offers a wide array of truffles and toffee that is all natural, organic and vegan.

Eating Vegan and Vegetarian on the Go

The nice thing about vegetarian and vegan eating is that while they may be few and far between one or two options are usually available at most restaurants, even if it means a veggie only salad with oil and vinegar dressing.  If that’s not necessarily your idea of a worthwhile restaurant tip, then Happy Cow may be just your ticket to finding some tasty, creative dining outside of your own home.  Happy Cow is a search engine that allows you to enter in where you’ll be dining and then provides you with different nearby options and the degree to which the food is vegetarian.  VegGuide.org is another similar site that allows users to give a description and rating of the restaurants vegan and vegetarian friendly options.

Just as in our previous dairy-free post, it’s extremely important to be aware of the possibility of cross-contamination if you are dedicated to eating vegetarian or living a vegan lifestyle.  Whether you’re out to eat at a chain restaurant or at a family pitch-in making sure that you know the ingredients included in a dish can truly help you maintain your dietary choices.  Indy Vegan instructs, “Being vegan means reading labels. I don’t care how much you hate it and how much time it takes, it’s just something you have to do. And if you don’t know, ask!”  And in situations like pitch-ins, it’s a great opportunity to introduce non-vegans/vegetarians to your dietary habits, but remember to do so in small doses as not everyone is apt to dive right in to the tofu salad, but may be more willing to try out a smaller dose of something like non-dairy cheese.

In the meantime, if you’re on the go and curious as to where it’s safe to eat, you can rest assured that there are options available.  One huge and ever changing option is the sandwich shop.  While it is important to make sure that bread is made without using animal products, this is often your best bet.  One national food chain that offers a great vegan/vegetarian array is Which Wich.  They have everything from a traditional veggie blend, to a hummus based sandwich all of which are served on bread that contains no animal ingredients.  If you’re in more of a sharing mood, Barcelona Tapas, a Spanish tapas chain has many great vegan options like grilled and marinated vegetables and even churro’s for dessert.  Even bigger chains like Chili’s have a few vegan options here or there.  While many of the foods are blatantly booked as vegan, items like fajitas and veggie quesadillas can be specially ordered to fit your needs.  In general many Indian and Middle Eastern restaurants also very easily fit into the vegan lifestyle since many dishes are already vegetarian due to religious reasons.  Items to try are samosas, hummus, falafel and Dal.

Delicious Vegan and Vegetarian recipes to try at home

Mac and Cheese Pizza from the Tolerant Vegan

Green Dream Soup from Indy Vegans

How do you or your family members deal with being Vegan and/or Vegetarian?  Please share your story. 

Why is Everything So Small? The Rising Popularity of the Small Plate Meal

Appetizers; Image from MorgueFileIt seems like no matter what restaurant you may stop into for a bite, you can’t miss items like tiny lamb kabobs, small shrimp skewers and a generally miniature version of just about anything. It seems choices like sliders are no longer just a novelty saved for the likes of White Castle, but have become commonplace everywhere from high end eateries to your local Houlihan’s.  According to a recent list put out by The Nation’s Restaurant News, small plates will be even bigger in 2011, placing at number 13 on their top 20 list of food trends in the coming year.

So why do we have this sudden obsession with the little things in our food life?  One of the answers could lie in our internet habits.  A study of internet use in Korean teenagers may have proved that the web isn’t the gateway to obesity as many believe.  They studied teens with light, moderate and heavy internet “addiction” and found that those falling under the heavy addiction actually tended to eat smaller meals on average.  One answer as to why this happened comes from a Salon.com article by Sara Breselor.  Breselor advises to “Considerate it (smaller portions/plates) the dining equivalent of updating your Facebook status…”   If you look at it this way, it’s only logical that with the growing popularity of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook that seeing smaller portions has also increased.

A second thought on the attractiveness of this new petite movement may be due to the economy.  After all, isn’t it common to downsize when in a financial downturn?  The average chain restaurant, like the Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen, have recently turned to this thrifty option as a way to cut costs, but not sacrifice taste and options.  Using undersized portions allows for customers, as well as the kitchen, to test out new combinations without breaking anyone’s bank.  This alternative also tends to help add more items to the check and has increased wine-by-the-glass purchases, according to an article from Nestle Professional.

A final, and seemingly obvious, reason for the trend is it’s “health” benefits.  Like most fads in the cuisine arena, small plates have been thought to be able to lend a hand in weight loss.  In terms of portion, according to a study done by Calgary University in Canada, how much a person eats is directly related to the kind of plate they use.  This means, the smaller the plate, the smaller the portion, the smaller the portion, the less you eat, the less you eat, the less weight you gain.  However, not only does the portion size make small plates an appealing choice but the common options add to the “diet” appeal.  Most of these snack-sized alternatives are guided by the traditional Spanish tapas which focus on proteins and vegetables.  As anyone who’s followed a low-carb diet knows, these items are a diet’s best friend because they tend to provide nutrients and flavor without the starchy, fatty side effects.

If you’re looking for great places to try this new trend:
In Indianapolis, check out:  Mesh, Zing, Iozzo’s Garden of Italy and
Zest! Exciting Food Creations

Nationwide, check out:  Barcelona Tapas, Cheesecake Factory,
Houlihan’s and California Pizza Kitchen

Changing the American Lunch Room

Schools are back in session and while the classroom is very important, the lunch room plays a very significant role to students. Whether it is revising layout and design or implementing healthier foods, any change to your lunch room can be beneficial to students.  Schools across the United States are implementing these different changes to better their cafeterias.

In a recent article by School Nutrition Magazine, they featured “Color Your Cafeteria Beautiful” which explains the benefits of adding color and vibrance to the cafeteria as opposed to the all too familiar “fluorescent lighting and cinderblock walls.”  They discovered adding color can actually build participation, encourage students towards different menu items, and promote a positive attitude for everyone.

file000826359266Children have been introduced to (and are enjoying) healthier foods such as bean soup, turkey sandwiches and salads with a light dressing. They also are providing a variety of low fat milks as well as plain skim. They do acknowledge different flavors have almost twice the amount of sugar in them, however, have listened to experts who say the benefits of calcium outweigh the amount of sugar.

Instead of serving lunch, schools in the Roanoke district have an “offer” model which allows students to take only what they are planning to eat and in return decreases waste. And now during the few days where menu items like sloppy joes are available, students are going for the turkey sandwich instead!

So if you are trying to decide whether or not to make changes to your lunch room, consider the short and long term benefits it will have for your students and your school by making it a better and healthier environment.