The Best Ingredients to Energize Your Customer Base

The Best Ingredients to Energize Your Customer Base

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be all about cutting calories, fat, sugar and sodium. Think instead about adding high-nutrient ingredients that enhance your guests’ energy, vitality, strength and well-being. 

The most recent Food & Health Survey, released by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, highlights how important healthy eating is becoming to consumers.  In fact, nearly 6 in 10 participants stated that getting the right mix of different foods is important to them.

Here are some power-packed, nutrient-filled ingredients to appeal to these nutrition-savvy guests: 

  1. Healthy fats: Avocado, olives, nuts and seeds, and some oils (extra virgin olive, canola, flaxseed and walnut) are examples of fats that don’t clog arteries and cause disease but instead actually help increase energy, boost metabolism to burn more calories , protect joints and flexibility, and contribute to heart and brain health.  Many guests are seeking benefits such as weight loss, cardiovascular health and energy from food, and healthy fats can help. These healthy fats also help maintain stable blood sugar levels after a meal, which reduces the glycemic response and provides a steady source of energy. Since fats contain a concentrated source of calories, a little goes a long way. Generally, one tablespoon of healthy oils, ¾ ounce of nuts, or a half an avocado are appropriate amounts per meal to gain the nutrient benefits from these healthy fats. 
  2. Lean protein: Protein is essential every day for strength and vitality. Like healthy fats, protein also helps maintain blood sugar levels for steady energy. Chicken and turkey breast (without skin), seafood and shellfish, lean beef and pork, bison and buffalo, egg whites and non-fat or low-fat dairy are examples of animal-based proteins that are lowest in saturated fat. Beans, legumes, quinoa and tofu are plant based proteins that have little or no saturated fat. A 5-ounce chicken or turkey breast delivers about 45 grams of protein, 3 egg whites contain about 10 grams of protein, one cup of quinoa provides 8 grams of protein and one cup of beans provides about 15 grams.  Lean protein has also been linked to weight loss and management, the number one benefit consumers are seeking from their food.
  3. Fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables may add unique taste sensations to meals, but they offer similar types of nutrients. Fruits and vegetables are the “magic bullets,” offering everything from anti-aging (preventing wrinkles and keeping hair and skin at their best) to fighting off colds and flus to reducing risks of many diseases (heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and others). Each produce color offers a different assortment of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.  So think of the rainbow when you design your plates, with yellow mango, red bell pepper, leafy green, white garlic and purplish blueberries. Fruits and vegetables also add visual appeal to help entice guests to order.
  4. Whole grains: These powerhouses contain energy-producing and disease-fighting nutrients as well as many phytochemicals and antioxidants. Use of whole grains in restaurants and American homes is quickly growing and often cited as a top trend.  You can help your guests and tap into the growing trend by offering whole grain breads, cereals, pastas and pizza crusts. Brown rice is growing in popularity, and many ancient grains, such as amaranth, farro and millet, are emerging as “super foods” containing powerful antioxidants. Quinoa is referred to as a “super grain,” as it is the only grain that supplies all nine essential amino acids, making it a great plant-based protein source.  These versatile ingredients are a smart way to add depth of flavor and interest to menus.

The USDA’s colorful “MyPlate” graphic serves as a visual cue to help Americans easily identify the best foods to build a healthy meal as well as the appropriate recommended quantities. The icon shows one-half of the plate with fruits and vegetables and the other half split between grains and protein, with a circle outside the plate representing a serving of dairy.

How are you adding energizing ingredients to your menu to help guests with their health goals while staying true to your brand?