Customers want what they want, so it’s great to give them craveable menu items that also fit the better-for-you profile: fresh and freshly made food that might have a local connection, a seasonal tie-in and lots of appeal. Among the healthy eating strategies consumers reported in the recent “Healthy at Foodservice” NPD Group study, 39% reported having salads as meals, 23% went for smaller portions and 28% sought out healthy proteins. Here are some restaurant menu ideas that hold appeal for health-conscious consumers:
• For fans of fresh: Molyvos in New York City celebrates the healthfulness of Mediterranean cuisine with its new weekend brunch juice bar featuring seasonal organic produce from a nearby farm, and traditional lathera Greek vegetable dishes cooked low-and-slow with olive oil.
• Local and seasonal connections: Wickets Bar & Grill in Schaumburg, IL, promoted the bounty of harvest season by creating three-course farmers’ market menus, priced at $25 per person, highlighting the week’s freshest produce from a local farmers’ market.
Attacking a snacking generation
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What constitutes a healthy snack? That depends on who you’re talking to. For some, it’s smaller portions—small plates, shared desserts and appetizers. For others, it’s the image of freshness, made-to-order, or nutrient-rich foods (think superfoods). Whole grains, berries and other fruits, vegetables, quinoa, fish and lean meats all have that healthy halo on the menu. And the whole idea of healthy snacks has splashed over into the beverage world, too, with fresh juices and cocktail ingredients that go from the garden to the glass. Today, 64 percent of consumers say healthy eating is important, and 38 percent say they’re more likely to visit restaurants with healthy menu options, according to Technomic’s 2012 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report.