Tag Archives: spinach

water, image from morguefile

5 Ways to Keep Customers Cool

Temperatures have been holding at record-breaking heights this summer in the United States.  In fact, according to The Weather Channel, it’s actually been as hot as 117 degrees, recorded in Childress, Texas on June 26.  That’s not even counting the humidity which can make the heat index rise even higher.   With all of these thermometer busting days, it’s tough to find ways to keep customers cool.  To quell the complaints until snow begins falling again, Central’s got just what you need.  We’ve compiled a list of tips, tricks and recipes to keep patrons chilly and maybe even allow them to enjoy outdoor dining without the fear of melting!

water, image from morguefileHydrate Through Water

We all know that it’s important to get enough water into your system even when it’s  scorching outside.  Thankfully, this is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to keep your guests (and staff) healthy and happy.

Product Tip:  Water Coolers can be a great investment to keep staff from overheating while a pretty glass can help make water a bit more appealing to guests.

Try this twist to add a little flavor: Lemon & Cucumber Water from Food.com

 Hydrate Through Food

If filling guests up on water sounds like an opportunity for money loss, rest assured there are also other ways to keep them hydrated.  Foods like watermelon and cucumbers are also full of H2O and are in prime season during these hot months.

Try these tasty recipes:  Watermelon and Cucumber Gazpacho from Epicurious
Minty-Watermelon Cucumber Salad from Taste of Home

Don’t Forget the Ice

It may not be a great idea to encourage customers to fill up on frozen margaritas while they’re out in the 100°+ heat.  In fact, alcohol actually speeds up dehydration according to the U.S. Army Medical Department.   Instead, you can cool them down by offering a slushy, non-alcoholic alternative (if they’re tasty enough diners may not even miss the alcohol).

Product Tip: Instead of crushing the ice yourself or burning out the motor on your food blender, try using an ice shaving machine like the Hamilton Beach Revolution Ice Shaver.

Try this sweet addition:  Pear Green Apple Raspberry Granita also from Hamilton Beach

chili pepper, image from MorgueFileBeat the Heat with Spice

It may sound crazy, but spicy food actually helps cool you off.  Think of the weather in places like India and Mexico, then think of the different types of food they eat.  Items like curry and chili pepper are so popular in these places because they increase sweat.  According to The New York Times, “If you are living in a hot climate, the increase in body temperature (when eating spicy foods) can make you feel cooler by diminishing the difference between you and the surrounding air and by inducing sweating, which cools the body when the perspiration evaporates.”  So why not use the heat as an opportunity to try out a few new spicy recipes for patrons, while educating them on the benefits of using heat to cool off?

Product Tip: Don’t forget to have anyone preparing these spicy items wear gloves, especially while cutting up and handling peppers.  Cut Resistant are good to prevent chopping accidents while non-latex and vinyl gloves are great options to help ensure excess seeds and/or juices don’t end up getting rubbed in worker’s eyes.

Try these spicy recipes:  Spicy Chicken Coconut Curry from Food Network
Thai Stuffed Chili Peppers from About.com

Eat your Greens

While eating a salad may sound like just the trick due to the cold veggies (or even just the thought of iceberg lettuce), there is actually more to their cooling effect.  FoodRepublic.com suggests, “Green, leafy vegetables—like spinach, kale and broccoli—are packed with calcium, which is crucial to your body’s thermoregulatory abilities.”  In plain English this means that the calcium helps keep your brain in contact with the rest of your body to make sure you don’t overheat.  Salads are also a great idea for restaurants in the summer months because so many different fruits and vegetables are in season, making them a bit cheaper, yet fresher tasting.

Product Tip:  After washing your lettuce and any other vegetables, throw them in a Salad Spinner or Dryer to make sure they’re dry and will grab hold of any dressing you might use.

Check out veggie versions or opt to add fruit: Roman Summer Salad from Food Network
Strawberry Summer Salad from All Recipes

 

If these five tips still have guests sweating (remember that’s supposed to happen with the Curry), there’s always the hope that Fall is just around the corner (September 23) and hopefully with it will come cooler weather.  In the meantime, kick back, relax and let the fan be your guest’s best friend.

Have a fail-proof recipe or idea for staying cool in during the sweltering summer months?  Share your thoughts with us below.

A crash course in food safety

Recent outbreaks of salmonella in the food supply have brought the restaurant and foodservice industry into the media spotlight. News of illness and recalls associated with spinach, tomatoes and jalapenos has been a serious cause for concern to those who make their livelihood in the foodservice industry. Yet, however widespread it appears to be, according to the National Restaurant Association, the U.S. food supply is the safest in the world.

While recent events have proven it is often difficult to know you’re purchasing food products from safe sources, operators can lessen the risk of receiving contaminated food products by washing hands frequently and thoroughly, not allowing employees to work when ill, segregating fresh produce from other refrigerated foods and washing fresh produce in running water before serving.

The Big Three

In addition to purchasing food from safe sources, other factors that contribute to food-borne illness in foodservice include time-temperature abuse; cross-contamination; and poor personal hygiene. The North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) refers to these as the “Big Three” of unsafe food handling:

  1. Time-temperature abuse occurs when cooked or raw foods are not held or stored at required temperatures; when food is not cooked or reheated to temperatures that kill microorganisms; and when foods are improperly cooled.
  2. Cross contamination occurs when bacteria is transferred among different surfaces and food items. For example, using a cutting board to cut raw meat, and then using it to slice fresh vegetables is a great way to transfer microorganisms.
  3. Last, your staff can transmit diseases through poor hygiene; for example, improper hand-washing, coughing or sneezing around food, handling food after touching open sores or scratches or coming to work when they are sick.

Foods most likely to cause problems

The FDA identifies several groups of foods that, by their nature, are more likely to become contaminated because of the way they are typically processed and handled during distribution:

  • Milk and milk products
  • Red meat and poultry
  • Fish, shellfish and crustaceans
  • Untreated raw eggs
  • Baked or boiled potatoes
  • Cooked rice and beans
  • Tofu or other soy-protein foods
  • Synthetic ingredients such as textured soy protein in meat alternatives
  • Garlic and oil mixtures
  • Sprouts and sprout seeds
  • Sliced melons

It is important that these food products are properly handled, stored and prepared. According to NAFEM, most foods outside these categories are more “forgiving” when it comes to handling abuse and the potential for foodborne illness. In the next section, we’ll go over some important HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) guidelines for safely handling these types of foods. The NRAEF (National Restaurant Association Education Foundation) is also a helpful tool for food safety guidance and training. The ServSafe program provides training and certification to foodservice professionals.

The 7 Principles of HACCP

HACCP is a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation and control of food safety hazards based on the following seven principles:

  1. Conduct a hazard analysis
  2. Determine the critical control points (CCPs)
  3. Establish critical limits
  4. Establish monitoring procedures
  5. Establish corrective actions
  6. Establish verification procedures
  7. Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures

For more information about HACCP guidelines and procedures, please visit FDA.gov.

Essential E&S

According to NAFEM, equipment manufacturers are driven more than ever before by a demand from the foodservice industry marketplace to design equipment and supplies that address these critical food safety and sanitation concerns. Here a just a few common items that promote sanitation and food safety:

  • Color-coded cutting boards. As mentioned earlier, using the same cutting board for raw meat and fresh vegetables could result in a foodservice nightmare. Using a set of color-coded boards helps prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen. You should use a different cutting board for fish, cooked foods, fruits and vegetables, poultry, and red meat.
  • Blast Chillers. Blast chillers are designed to rapidly chill cooked food through the temperature danger zone (135°F to 40°F) to assure food safety. Most models of blast chillers come equipped with probes for critical temperature monitoring and many even have on-board computers and printers for HACCP record-keeping.
  • No-touch faucet handles. Many faucets come with an option for wrist handles, which don’t require users to touch the faucet after washing their hands. More manufacturers are designing sinks and faucets that promote proper hand washing techniques.
  • Antimicrobial technology. A wide variety of equipment and supplies now come coated with antimicrobial protection to ward off bacteria. Everything from youth seating, mop handles, carts, slicers, shelving, dish dollies, thermometers, knives, gloves and floor mats are now available with Microban.
  • No-touch waste containers. Many manufacturers sell “no-touch” models of trash cans and other waste receptacles that don’t required users to make contact with the container. Lids are available in a variety of styles that promote cleanliness.
  • Sneeze Guards. Because the last thing you want is someone sneezing on your salad.
  • Safety Ice Scoop System. Another restaurant item that often gets negative media attention is ice, but using an ice scoop holder will remind staff not to leave the ice scoop in the bin, and most models prevent hands from touching the surface of the scoop.