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Give your menu a makeover with these easy tips

By Katya Baxter, Nutritionist,

Spelt risotto or buckwheat pasta, anyone?

According to the recent research results conducted by the NPD group, more and more consumers are looking for quality of ingredients as well as flavorful, and nutritionally rich menu options.

With the economy putting a damper on the foodservice industry, especially on the full service establishments, it is pretty much mandatory for restaurants to create menus that not only offer great value, but also stand out as far as creativity, flavor, innovation, and nutrition.

Here are three examples that can help you add a slightly different angle to your existing recipes.

Salads. These have been associated with ‘healthy eating’ for decades. Unfortunately, with today’s food-savvy consumer, it is no longer enough to have a plate of mixed greens and stick it under the ‘lighter fare‘ category. How can you make it more filling and more interesting?

Just like chicken or fish are commonly offered for an extra charge to go with a salad, consider offering a selection of cheese, nuts, seeds, beans, sprouts, or a poached egg as an added item.  This type of salad can cater to a wider audience, including the likes of a vegetarian, vegan and even gluten-intolerant guest!

Pastas & Risottos. Pastas and risottos have been the dish of choice for a number of decades. However, in today’s world of local, seasonal, sustainable and organic produce and greater health awareness, more and more individuals are choosing veggies over heavy pasta dishes. What can you do to add that special innovative twist to your current pasta dishes?

Consider adjusting your portions for both, pasta and risotto, and going back to the simple, basic methods of pasta preparation. You can also venture out and try making these dishes with different types of ingredients. A potato or spelt risotto, for example, are not only different, but are also more rich in nutrients (i.e. fiber) than risotto made from traditional arborio rice. Further, buckwheat and brown rice pastas are gluten-free, – a great way to cater to this growing market segment.

Baked goods & Desserts. Pizza, bread and dessert are commonly seen on the menu, and here is where you can also experiment with different ingredients.

Whole grain crusts, gluten-free or artisan, grainy breads, savory desserts, etc. can make your menu stand out as far as innovation, nourishment, and flavor. Create a story around your special ingredients, be descriptive about your dishes, and taste and flavor will take care of the rest!

There is plenty of recipes available through and you can check them out for free. Remember that consumers are looking for innovative food that tastes great and makes them feel energized. You don’t have to change the entire menu all at once – start with one or two items to see what works best for your establishment.

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