During a time when the general population has had to be more conscious about their health than ever, more an more consumers are making it clear that they have begun to hold healthier standards when dining out as well. As the COVID-19 pandemic brought about massive change in the way that restaurants supply food to the masses, it simultaneously made diners keenly aware of the high caloric values within their favorite take-out meals. As a result, the demand for healthier menu items has increased substantially. Supplying the increased demand for food in general can be daunting in and of itself, so the though of a menu overhaul seems out of the question. Well, we are happy to tell you that creating a healthier menu doesn’t have to be difficult. With just a few simple ingredient swaps, you can be well on your way to providing your customers with exactly what they’re asking for in no time.
Impact of Sodium
When creating a menu item, one of the most prevalent points of importance is to make sure that your dish is packed with flavor. And what’s the easiest way to do that? Well salt of course. In fact the average American consumes approximately 3,400mg of sodium each day, which is over 1,000 mg over the daily recommended amount set by the FDA. The impact of the increased sodium intake places every 1 in 3 Americans at risk for heart disease and other blood pressure complications. Given this understanding, the solution seems cut and dry enough: just reduce the amount of salt used when preparing food, right? Wrong. Foods that have been processed can often contain a high amount of sodium without tasting salty.
Hidden Sodium Sources
You might be surprised to know that just one 197g flour tortilla, for example, contains 950g of sodium — 39% of the recommended daily amount! So before you even build your burrito and begin to season the meat, the tortilla alone can have your dish off to a salty start. In this case, a great way to start things off on a lower-sodium foot is to create a burrito bowl, omitting the tortilla altogether.
- Breads containing yeast
- Bouillion and broths
- Canned items
- Pre-made seasonings
- Condiments and Sauces
- Cold Cuts & Cured Meats
- Processed foods
Reducing sodium in menu items can be done a few ways. As we previously mentioned, being aware of hidden sodium sources is one major component to offering meals that are heart healthy. Another way is to observe lower sodium cooking methods. Quite often, chicken, meats, and starches are cooked in broth or sauces or are sauteed in butter to infuse the dish with flavor. While this is a delicious method, it often lends to much sodium to the dish itself. In place of pre-made sauces, herbs and savory vegetables can be used to flavor the meal instead. Fresh juices can also lend flavor without increasing the level of sodium.
Experimenting with flavors and methods in the kitchen can be a rewarding experience that can change the nutritional components of your dish in a positive way while creating new menu offerings that appeal to your customer’s demands and preferences. This process can be made even easier with the use of a nutrition platform (we know a great one) that instantly calculates the nutrition in your recipes while you create them. Whether you are switching to a lower-sodium broth or simply reducing the amount of salt in your dish, you can input the change into MenuCalc and see the results instantly. No more waiting on a dietitian or other nutrition specialist to calculate your nutrient and caloric values in your menu recipes. Find out your results as soon as you make the changes.
Curious about how MenuCalc can help transform your menu? Contact us today.