As chefs, we tend to prioritise the taste of food over the calorie or vitamin count. While many of our customers are the same, there is rising interest in the health impact of what we eat. Even the most ardent foodies are now asking about the nutritional breakdown of the dishes we serve: how many vegetable portions does this contain? How can you lower cholesterol with foods like this? What will this do to my blood sugar?
Such questions can sometimes feel like an affront to our hard work on the taste. However, the trend is unlikely to go away, so it’s worth thinking about how this approach could enhance rather than restrict our creativity in the kitchen. To help you start exploring the possible benefits of healthy cuisine, we’ve focused on four key areas and ways they can be incorporated into your cooking.
With a significant proportion of people experiencing high cholesterol levels (about half the adult population of the UK) it’s very likely that a good number of those you cook for will be trying to work out how to lower cholesterol levels. Diet is very important for this.
So it’s no eggs, no lobster, right? Wrong. The guidelines on how to lower cholesterol have changed. While there used to be a big emphasis on avoiding what were considered high-cholesterol foods (foods that contained dietary cholesterol), these days it’s more about the role of fat; trying to swap saturated fats for unsaturated ones.
What does this mean in the kitchen? Perhaps experimenting with oily fish-based recipes with salmon and trout, swapping butter for avocado, or incorporating nuts into your grains and salads. Each of these options open up exciting taste opportunities, meaning any cholesterol-conscious diet need not sacrifice on satisfaction.
Sodium is a major foe of the healthy eater, and many are highly aware that eating out may mean increasing their average daily consumption. Do what you can to support their efforts by minimising added salt and reducing high-sodium ingredients like cured and smoked meats and salty-tasting cheeses.
Getting Your Five-a-Day
The NHS has long advised eating at least five portions of fruit or veg each day, and many restaurant patrons take up the challenge. Spread over three meals, a health-conscious eater will be looking for at least two to three vegetable portions in a dish on the menu.
To help cater for this need, why not go through your existing list of meals and see where you can add in some extra fruit or veg. This is often easy to do through tempting sides like roast parsnips, Mediterranean grilled vegetables or slices of peach and strawberry in balsamic-based salads.
High Fibre Diets
Key for maintaining digestive health, fibre is an oft-vaunted wonder nutrient to be incorporated where possible in a balanced diet. Those looking for high-fibre options on your menu may focus on vegetable content, as these tend to be naturally high in fibre, but also wholegrain options. Why not switch up your white bread for some seeded rye, try some wholemeal pasta, or add grains to your salads?
These are just a few common aspects of healthy eating that are worth considering when putting together a menu. From those wondering how to lower cholesterol to those wanting a high-fibre diet, you’re more than likely to be catering for the health-conscious consumer. Finding ways to do so easily will make the experience better for all.
The key is to see these challenges not as restrictions but as creative starting points. Once you get started, you’ll want to create healthy menus all the time.