With the colder months approaching and no end in sight for nationwide dining-room closures, many restaurants are opting to winterize their menus in order to keep diners warm from their bellies out as they dine via curbside pick-up or outdoors onsite. And if you’re one of these restaurants who are looking for the coziest comfort food for your customers, we’ve got a few suggestions based on this year’s trends as well as the demand for immune-building ingredients by consumers everywhere. It’s flu season and round 3 of the COVID pandemic, who doesn’t want to be wrapped in a warm, healthy hug from their favorite local restaurant? Sheesh, now we’re even getting hungry. Let’s review some of these helpful tips for winterizing your restaurant menu before we all get hangry.
Food for Thought
When most people think of immune system, they think of some intangible place in the body that needs to be inundated with Vitamin C, because you know, antioxidants? You might be surprised to find that as business that is responsible for feeding people, you have the opportunity to make a huge impact on consumer health. Why? Because 80% of the immune system is located in the digestive system. That’s right, all that pre-biotic/pro-biotic-gut health- good bacteria/bad bacteria-talk actually has one thing in common– food. This gives restaurants a tremendous opportunity to help quell your patrons fears about their health through the dishes that you provide and especially how you market them.
Without diving too deeply into the science of it all, all you need to know is that the nutrients from the food you serve your customers is absorbed and then transported to other parts of the body through the digestive system. And given the fact that functional medicine has been colliding with the food industry by means of brining functional, health-promoting ingredients to the table, immunity-building meals aren’t just easy to make but simple to promote. They’re bound to be an instant hit!
So what are these immunity-building meal options? Some of the dishes you’re already accustomed to viewing as comfort-foods also serve to be some of the healthiest options for your customers as well! We’re talking soups and stews. These hug-in-a-bowl meals actually pack a potent punch when it comes to their nutrient-density.
Nutrient-Rich Super Bowls
So what makes soups and stews so amazing? It’s all in the process. Soups and stews tend to take a much longer time to cook due to the need to boil and soften the vegetables and proteins they contain. During this boiling process, the vegetables and proteins release their nutrients into the broth, making them easy to absorb which enhances the body’s ability to utilize them quickly and build the immune system. The immune system is made up of good bacteria that helps to break down your food. That good bacteria is living and fibrous vegetables feed that living digestive system lining, making those immune cells stronger and more capable of fighting off any outside virus.
That being said, serve up those soups and stews and serve them up hot! When winterizing your restaurant menu, be experimental in using functional foods like bone broth, or even make your own. Bone broth is just a fancy term for “stock” but it’s a marketable buzz-word that can help your winterized menu sell better due to it’s popularity among consumers. Bone-broth or stock is known for it’s ability to deposit collagen into the digestive lining, creating a protective barrier and keeping out foreign invaders to the body.
Fresh Herbs & Vegetables
Swapping out your traditional dried-herb seasonings and powders will not only help to infuse your soups and stews with flavors but powerful antioxidants and phytonutrients that will lend their benefits to your bone-broth based dishes. Making the simple switch from dried to fresh garlic alone is well worth it. Fresh and cooked garlic is known for it’s potent immune benefits but were you aware that it also serves as an antimicrobial? In a time where health and safety is of the utmost importance, a little fresh garlic can go a long way. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory which makes it beneficial for those who are suffering from underlying or auto-immune conditions that can weaken their ability to fight viruses like COVID-19. In addition, herbs like Thyme and Parsley are known for their antimicrobial properties and antioxidant density, another heavy hitter when increasing immunity. With all of the herbs you can use in cooking your heart-warming and healthy meals, the possibilities are truly endless.
Winterize with a Little Help from Your Friends (at MenuCalc)
Winterizing your restaurant menu could turn into a major project if you’re unsure how to pivot. In this case, when making big menu changes to provide more nutrient-dense offerings, it helps to consult a nutrition professional. Although it’s natural to think that nutrition and food always go together, in the food industry they tend to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. If you do not have a nutrition professional on staff that can assist you in the winterization of your menu or simply pivoting a few recipes in that direction, feel free to utilize MenuCalc’s nutrition team! Comprised of nutrition professionals and industry experts, our nutrition team can help you add some immune-boosting, comfort foods to your menu in no-time.
Get your menu winter-ready as we settle into the cold months, contact us today to help you winterize your restaurant menu today.