It’s Time to Dress It Up For Business: Is Your Salad Ready?

New research shows that opening the door to the thriving soup and salad market can bring in additional sales. Technomic, a leading research group for the foodservice industry, found that 43% of consumers chose a certain restaurant based on their salad options alone. It is important for us in the foodservice industry to recognize these emerging trends so that we stay informed and offer what today’s consumer is demanding.

Fast casual restaurants, the fastest growing segment of the restaurant industry, have profited from offering “Signature Salads”. Salads encompassing exotic lettuces, meat or seafood toppings, nuts and berries, and a wide variety of cheeses suggest higher-quality ingredients; giving off the aura of nutritious and satisfying. Another key part of the emerging demand for salad is for the flavorful dressings that compliment them. Dressings are no longer relegated to “on the side” but instead have become the cornerstone of a salad.

Asian Chicken Salad
Asian Chicken Salad

Ethnic offerings entice tired palates to try an alternative twist to a safe favorite. For example, Foothill Farms® Avocado Ranch Dressing elevates the ever-popular ranch to a more complex, gourmet offering. This dressing compliments the Mexi-Cali Cobb Signature Salad, a blend of fresh baby spinach leaves, black beans, grilled shrimp, and pureed avocado. A second signature salad utilizing Ranch Dressing as a base is the popular Asian Salad. Our Wasabi Ranch Dressing gives romaine lettuce, grilled or smoked chicken, cilantro, wonton strips, purple cabbage, and sesame a spicy kick (another trend for 2014)! If peppery makes you cautious, chefs use our 1000 Island or Honey Mustard Dressing mix to create an Asian Dressing that gives taste buds a sweeter, honey-ginger fix. Another “Signature Salad” that pleases the less adventurous eater while still encouraging the desire to branch out is a steak, ham, or bacon topped salad. These salads draw guests looking for lower carb options but who aren’t ready to sacrifice the “meat” on their plate. Foothill Farms® Blue Cheese Dressing drizzled atop mixed herbs, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, red onions, seedless cucumbers, and sliced cherry tomatoes, adds just the right amount of hearty and tangy to satisfy the inner lumberjack.

Steakhouse Blue Cheese Dressing
Steak Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Last but certainly not least, especially with the growing trend of vegan and organic-demanding consumers, is the vegetarian garden salad. Fresh from the farm rules the day when salads offer a variety of lettuces, herbs, peppers, mushrooms, berries, fruits, onions, and squash. Our Lido Italian Dressing & Seasoning mix allows you to create your own “Signature Dressing” by adding your choice of vinegars – wine, balsamic, or white. If your goal is green (no pun intended), adding “Signature Salads” to your menu is a sure way to tempt your patrons’ taste buds and keep them coming back for more! Using dry salad dressing mixes like Foothill Farms®, allows foodservice professionals to create multiple varieties of gourmet. For more salad recipe ideas, please visit http://www.foothillfarms.com/recipes.

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
Raspberry Vinaigrette served atop fresh strawberries on a bed of spinach leaves

Lose the Sodium without Losing the Kids

Spaghetti, pizza, sloppy joes, chili, and tacos are known as “kid-tested, mom-approved” meals but when the ingredients have too much salt, they quickly turn into cafeteria no-gos! Flavorwise™ from Foothill Farms® was created to help reduce sodium on school menus without sacrificing taste. Each product has 310mg sodium or less per serving, 0g trans fat, is low fat or fat free and contains no cholesterol or added MSG.

Flavorwise™ by Foothill Farms® Reduced Sodium mixes
All Flavorwise products are sodium-conscious, lower in fat and cholesterol and don’t contain added MSG, so your customers can make smarter choices.

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) are federally funded by the USDA each year to cover the cost of free and reduced meals, as well as some additional financial support for paid meals. The NSLP and SBP mandate the amount of sodium, calories, trans fat, and saturated fat allowed in school meals. For example, for the 2014/15 school year, food prepared for K-5 lunches can’t have more than 1230 mg of sodium, 550-650 calories, 0 g per serving of trans fat and less than 10% of calories from saturated fat.  Source: http://www.schoolnutrition.org/uploadedFiles/School_Nutrition/105_Meetings/CurrentandPastMeetings/CurrentMeetingPages/LegislativeActionConference/Presentations/1-Comparison%20of%20Current%20and%20New%20Regulatory%20Requirements%20under%20Final%20Rule.pdf?n=9218

Over the next eight years, school cafeterias and foodservice providers need to continue to reduce the amount of sodium in their meals. The USDA’s target sodium content allowed in school meals for 2022/23 is 640 mg of sodium. Source: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/governance/legislation/sodium.pdf. To help put sodium levels in perspective, we found a helpful chart that coverts teaspoons to milligrams (tsp to mg).

1/4 teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,200 mg sodium
3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,800 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2,400 mg sodium

Source: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/PreventionTreatmentofHighBloodPressure/Shaking-the-Salt-Habit_UCM_303241_Article.jsp

At the current target sodium rate, students are allowed about ½ teaspoon of salt in their lunch. By 2022, that allowance will be cut in half. Which means, the focus on reducing sodium is now! A gradual reduction of sodium is the best way to achieve student acceptance. The nutritional information for Flavorwise™ products will gradually change as the years go by, decreasing the sodium amounts so that they correspond with the federal nutritional guidelines outlined through 2022/23.

Our goal is to keep the kids eating school breakfast and lunch, rather than bringing their own from home. Therefore, taste is extremely important to us as well as waste. If the kids don’t like what they eat, they’ll pitch it! For more reasons than one, this isn’t acceptable! Currently, we have 29 products in our Flavorwise™ product line. Please click here for our newest brochure on Flavorwise™.

 

Latin Sauces take the Express Track…Destination: Big Flavor!

Orange Ancho Chile Sauce Mix
Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Avocado Flatbread

For a Latin sauce with flair, just add water.  It really can be that simple!  As food professionals, we know better than to overlook the importance of a quality accompanying sauce.  It elevates the main dish and turns great into extraordinary.  However, the reality of creating the perfect sauce from scratch for every individual recipe can translate to losing valuable prep time and drive up expense as the list of ingredients increases.  Can the solution be as easy as adding water?  It actually can be that simple if you are using Foothill Farms® instant mixes which include delicious cheese sauces, ethnic sauces, classic sauces, and specialty sauces.  Within the line of sauces, there are low sodium options from our Flavorwise™ product line.  Foothill Farms® mixes create reliable, delicious flavor that still offer options to customize recipes and showcase your individuality as a food artist.

Red Enchilada Sauce Mix
Enchilada Sauce with Cheese Rolls

Our Latin sauce mixes embody the trending concept of speed scratch, which incorporates ready-to-use food products to expedite prep without sacrificing flavor.  Foothill Farms® products are allowing food professionals to save time, money, and create consistent dishes with much less fuss and increasing menu possibilities.

Versatility? Yes.  Foothill Farms® Orange Ancho Chile Sauce Mix can take you from Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Cilantro Lime Rice to Orange Ancho Chile Chicken with Avocado Flatbread without skipping a Latin beat.  Spicy Chili Orange Sauce gives a signature flavor of sweet and spicy to wings, chicken and ribs without spending valuable time on prep.

Healthy? Yes.  Foothill Farms® Classic Red Enchilada Sauce Mix with Guajillo Chiles-Reduced Sodium keeps an eye on nutrition for your healthful menu items without compromising flavor. It is a part of our Flavorwise™ product line and contains no added MSG, no partially hydrogenated oils, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavors, low in sodium and preservative free.  Using this one sauce mix can expand your menu at least three times with Beef Enchilada Empanadas, Cheese Enchilada Mini Pierogies, and Carne Asada Sauce.

Beef Enchiladas
Beef Enchiladas

Cheese, please? Yes.  Foothill Farms® has 16 cheese sauce mixes to explore ranging from traditional cheddars, to creamy whites, to spicy nacho cheese, to exceptional specialty cheese sauces. Serve Chipotle-Cheddar Cheese Sauce alongside fresh baked bread or onion rings as a specialty dip, compliment juicy burgers with a rich creamy cheese experience or mix it with pasta for a unique mac n’ cheese. Don’t forget the chips and dip! Pepper Jack Queso gives a little menu twist and livens up this popular appetizer staple.

Standard Fare? No.  We are constantly adding new recipes to provide a spectrum of dishes to keep adding to your food repertoire.  Adding new twists with innovative recipes can keep the menu fresh while keeping costs in check with the mixes that will become a staple in the kitchen.

Foothill Farms® will keep the Latin sauce movement alive in your kitchen and help keep your focus on easy flavor with lots of versatility.  Latin heat just got easier.

Pepper Jack Queso
Pepper Jack Queso

Healthier Choices with Flavorwise™

It’s not just about doing the right thing, it is about embracing it! Meaning we all know that eating healthy is the right choice for our bodies but unless we do it, it’s just talk. As foodservice professionals, we want to walk that walk with our customers and our customers’ customers.

Foothill Farms® Flavorwise™ products were created to help reduce sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, calories, cholesterol and MSG on restaurant menus. Many products are gluten-free. We want to help our customers meet school and healthcare nutritional guidelines as well as support restaurants that desire a lighter menu. Currently, there are 29 products that house the green Flavorwise™ flag.

According to a recent study by The Port Washington, a N.Y.-based market research firm, menu innovation and older consumers’ increased spending are among the top 10 trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2014.

29 products house the green Flavorwise™ flag.
Reduce sodium, trans fat, saturated fat, calories, cholesterol and MSG on restaurant and K-12 menus.

Our country’s aging population is not cooking. They are going out for meals which translates to our responsibility to meet their dietary restrictions or special diets. Many seniors are watching their cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, as well as overall fat content and calories. Paying attention to the trends, restaurants can attract repeat business by posting nutritional information (calories, sodium, fat) on their menus or by offering a special “healthful” menu section for those conscious of their diet.

“Consumers’ interest in healthful meal options is tied to the health needs of boomers and older individuals, the growth in ethnic groups accustomed to fresh food preparation, and greater awareness of the need for and benefits of healthful eating among younger patrons. As an example, NPD found a growing number of consumers who prefer gluten-free foods, not because of required dietary restrictions, but because of the benefits of overall more healthful eating.” (Ruggless, 2013)

Expanding our sauces, seasonings, salad dressings, and gravies within the Flavorwise™ label allows foodservice operators to explore healthier versions of their current menus without sacrificing taste or having to leave Foothill Farms® for a different brand. We’ve got “healthy” covered! For more information on Flavorwise™, please contact your foodservice broker or contact us.

Ruggless, R. (2013, December 16). 10 trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2014. Retrieved from Nation’s Restaurant News: http://nrn.com/food-trends/10-trends-shaping-restaurant-industry-2014?page=1

Beyond Baked Chicken Nuggets…Is Your Menu Ready?

BBQ Teriyaki Chicken w rice

Recent Government Changes to School Meal Regulations Allows Cafeterias More Quantity and Variety

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was recently modified, lifting the previous restrictions on grain and protein maximums. This change is anticipated to positively affect school cafeterias nationwide.

In theory, limiting the amount of carbohydrates and calories from a meal contributes positively to weight management and combats the health concern of childhood obesity. In reality, schools are forced to offer a more limited menu to already picky eaters and as a result, children do not ingest enough healthy food to sustain them throughout the day. Thankfully, concerned parents, nutritionists, and school administrators won the battle and now schools will be free to expand their menus beyond baked chicken nuggets!

How Foothill Farms Can Help
Foothill Farms offers rice seasonings, pasta sauces, and meat gravies that will instantly add flavorful variety to your menu. First, take a look at your current monthly menu. Do you think you have enough variety? Is there something else you wish you could add? We bet you didn’t even have to look! Of course you have recipes you want to add!

Foothill Farms can assist you in successfully and efficiently adding more variety to your current rice and pasta side dishes and add an appealing sauce or gravy to your daily meat offering. We can assure you that our mixes are no fail! Our seasoning and sauce blends are taste tested and made with fresh, dry ingredients, keeping in mind school aged appetites. All you need to do is add hot water! To find a foodservice broker nearest you, please visit our Broker Locator. 

Try Something New
A good start is to add some ethnic variety. Here are two meals to try:
BBQ Teriyaki Chicken and Asian Stir Fried Rice
Chicken Fajitas and Taco Rice