There are many ways to make your menu healthier. Here, we’ll discuss some common practices to help you create healthier, tasty meals for your diners.
Understanding food labels
Food labels give information about the product, including its nutritional content. Knowing how to properly read food labels and communicating the nutritional content to your diners can help them make healthier choices. This can be done in a number of ways:
Have nutrition information read to share with diners when asked.
Use nutritional information to create balanced, varied and healthier meals.
Identify potential food allergens and highlight to diners.
Characteristics of healthy meals
Learn the characteristics of healthy meals and how to use them to create a better menu for your restaurant. Tips for creating a balanced menu:
Offer meals made up of protein foods (meat, fish, meat alternatives), carbohydrate foods (potatoes, rice, pasta, bread) and vegetables or salad Provide diners with lots of choice
Give diners the option to swap carbohydrate foods cooked in fat (chips) for those cooked without fat (boiled potatoes, rice)
Offer diners wholegrain alternatives of rice, pasta and bread because they are higher in fibre
Serve dressings and sauces on the side so diners can choose how much they want to eat
Don’t add salt during the cooking process
Trim the fat from meat and remove the skin from poultry before cooking to reduce the amount of fat in the dish
Healthier cooking methods
Now that we know the characteristics of healthy meals, let’s take a look at the healthier cooking methods you can adopt to prepare them:
Steam – No oil required and it helps preserve nutrients.
Boil – No oil required, this adding no extra calories to the food.
Poach – A no-fat method to cook naturally tender ingredients like eggs, fish and vegetables.
Sauté or stir fry – Good alternatives to deep frying. Nutrients and the natural colour of ingredients are retained, making food more visually appealing.
Grill – Low-fat way to prepare meat that allows fat from the ingredients to drip away during the cooking process. Take care not to over-char meats, as charring has been linked in increased cancer risks.
Healthier seasoning alternatives
Here’s a list of healthier seasoning alternatives that you can use during the cooking process:
Aromatic ingredients (onions, garlic, ginger, etc.) – Helps add flavour without using too much salt.
Toasted spices, nuts and seeds – Adds aroma and flavour to a dish.
Citrus and flavoured vinegar – Bright, sharp flavour that helps reduce the need for salt.
Healthy dish portioning
Healthy eating is more than the vitamins and minerals you provide in your dishes – it’s also about serving a balanced plate to your diners. Here are a few tips on how to portion components on a dish to promote a balanced diet:
Ensure the plate has a balance of carbohydrate foods (preferably wholegrain versions), protein foods (lean meat, fish and vegetarian options such as beans, pulses, lentils, eggs and meat alternatives) and vegetables or salad
As an approximate guide, a plate should be ¼ carbohydrate foods, ¼ protein foods and ½ vegetables or salad
Serve small amounts of sauces and dressings on the side