Why Okra Should Appear on Your Foodservice Menu

Nutritious and delicious okra, okra seeds, and okra water appearing on menus

If Okra, Okra seeds, and Okra dishes are not part of your restaurant’s current offerings or something your catering service provides, it’s time for you and your chefs to learn why okra should appear on your menu and how you and your customers can benefit from its many nutritious and tasty properties.

Let’s begin with the basics: What is Okra? A longtime favorite in Southern cooking and originally brought to the U.S. by Ethiopian slaves, Okra is a vegetable that comes from the same plant family as cotton and hibiscus. Also known as “ladies fingers” due to its unique finger shape, it has earned a reputation as a health food and has even been recommended as a way to help manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

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Naturally Sweeten up your Menu with In-Demand Maple Flavors

Last updated on October 27th, 2019

Add maple flavors to your recipes and get a sweet increase in revenues.

Maple season is back and with the falling of the leaves comes a great opportunity for your catering service, bakery, or restaurant to add maple’s sweet flavor to your customers’ favorite dishes. And if your current use of maple still falls within the ‘maple-syrup-on-pancakes-waffles-and-French toast’ paradigm, it’s time to update your recipe repertoire to maximize maple’s full palate-pleasing potential.

Maple Beyond the Pancakes

With maple’s popularity on the rise, global markets are soaring with new products such as organic maple waters that are being used as flavoring agents in foods or as a replacement for liquids called for in recipes. Meanwhile, chefs around the world are dabbling in adding the natural sweetener to sauces, toppings, desserts (think maple pecan coffee cake smothered in vanilla ice cream drizzled with maple syrup…), baked goods, energy drinks, and even cocktails.

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Beyond Maple Syrup: Discover Birch and Walnut

Discover the latest in syrups: birch and walnut, and how to add your menu.

Did you know that there are multiple varieties of syrup beyond maple that you can offer your customers the next time they order pancakes, waffles, or French toast? Although sales of maple syrup are booming, also rising to the top of the popularity charts are a diverse menu of alternatives. Birch syrup and walnut syrup, for example, are made from sap tapped directly from the tree (just like maple), while other trees that can be tapped are elder, box elder, hickory, basswood, sycamore, beechnut, butternut, and more. Thanks to technological advancements, there are also syrup hybrids such as earthy tasting maple-walnut and nutty flavored maple-birch.

To treat your customers to an expanding menu of syrups teeming with taste and nutrients, enjoy the following guide to the birch and walnut types. As you will discover, although they are made using the same tools for tapping as sugar maples, each variety boasts many unique characteristics and can be used in cooking and baking to create novel dishes and add a savory twist to your customers’ favorite recipes.

Tapping the Value of Walnut and Birch Trees

For the past decade, teams of organic tree sap specialists (such as those at the Cornell Maple Program), alongside food technologists and manufacturers, have been researching the commercial potential of tapping walnut and birch for syrup. Among their key objectives has been determining the best tapping methods (i.e. the old-school bucket-hung-on-a-tree method where gravity pulls the sap from the tree vs. the more modern vacuum tube method where tubes are hooked up to the trees with a pump); the best times of year and climate conditions; the expected sap flow and yield; the comparative sugar levels; and the value of blending sap varieties. Last on the list: Taste tests to determine the potential of the new food products. In the words of Michael Farrell, co-founder of New Leaf Tree Syrups: “Part of the fun is seeing how people like it. Everybody loves maple, and we’ll have to see how they like these.”

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New Water Beverages Compete for the Top Spot

New, improved, and pioneering water beverages are in high demand.

If you thought you were up to speed with what’s new in the water beverage industry – think again! The oldest and most natural drink in the world has been given a modern-day facelift – and not just a makeover. In recent years, water has been experiencing a seemingly endless stream of modifications, additions, enhancements, and embellishments.

Competition in the water industry is on the rise. On one end of the spectrum, food-and-beverage moguls are busy trying to one-up each other in the realm of innovation, while smaller, local foodservice operators are stocking their refrigerators and updating their menus with a plethora of diverse water offerings.

No matter what type of restaurant, catering service, bakery, coffee shop, pizzeria, ice cream parlor, food truck, bar, fast-food joint, or other eatery you operate, staying competitive in the biz means keeping abreast of what H2O varieties your customers are craving and what ingredients and flavors your chefs can add to take your offerings to a new level.

A Waterfall of Varieties

Attributed in large part to the health-and-wellness movement and consumers’ shunning of artificial, synthetic, and sugar-laden products, the functional beverage sector (i.e. drinks that offer benefits beyond quenching your thirst) has experienced unprecedented growth and expansion. Walk down any supermarket drink aisle or scan a 2019 beverage menu and the choices are continually expanding. From bottled to canned, flavored, sparkling, collagen-infused, vitamin-infused, mineral-infused, protein-infused, alkaline-infused, carbonated, sweetened, and even chemically altered to increase the oxygen or hydrogen content, it is clear that the recent title wave of activity is more than just a trickling fad.

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How To Incorporate Figs in Your Restaurant Menu

Discover how you can add healthy figs to your restaurant menus.

Sweet and Healthy Figs Play a New Role on Restaurant Menus

Fig season is here and will continue through mid-November. If you work in foodservice and have not yet discovered the amazing flavors, textures, and array of colorful figs, it’s time to clear your plates and make room for a large serving of all thing’s fig-tastic. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about the history of figs, fig fun facts, fig nutrients, fig varieties, how to cook and bake with figs and dried figs and enjoy some recommended recipes.

Figs in the Food Industry

Did you know that the edible fig is thought to be the first plant ever cultivated by humans? Eaten fresh, dried, cooked, or added to baking recipes, figs are naturally sweet, a rich source of fiber, and contain trace amounts of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and manganese. Dried figs are especially packed with dietary fiber and provide 26% of the recommended daily value of manganese.

While previously the fruit has been overlooked by chefs, fig flavors and dishes are growing in popularity and are increasingly appearing on restaurant menus. Recently, they made headline news when the Swiss company Firmenich named fig the 2018 “Flavor of the Year,” while Internet searches for fig wedding cakes have seen a 500% increase in recent seasons.

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The Rise of Probiotic Beverages

Discover gut-friendly probiotic drinks and start adding them to your menu.

If you work in the beverage business, it’s time to drink in the latest buzz word in the biz: Probiotics. Whether you are a caterer, restaurant owner, or operate another type of eatery, probiotic drinks are dominating the market. In this update for foodservice pros, we’ll delve into why the fermented products are being included on multiple “top beverage trends for 2019” lists, and why you should be adding them to your menu.

The Dish on Probiotic versus Prebiotic

If you recall, we previously visited the topic of probiotics in our blog “How to Cater for Clients Who Want Gut-Friendly Foods,” where we learned that the body is full of ‘good’ bacteria that serve as digestive aids, that help prevent disease, and that provide a plethora of other health benefits.

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An Insider’s Update on Outdoor Catering

Discover the latest ideas in outdoor catering strategies to meet demand.

Great news for caterers! With the popularity of cafes, casual restaurants, and outdoor dining on the rise, there could not be a better time to be in the foodservice business. Whether you already work in the industry, are embarking on a new career as a professional caterer, or whether you want to expand your restaurant operation by going mobile, now is the time to be in-the-know and learn how you can capitalize on the opportunities to seize the market.

The Proliferation of Catering Venues

If you are looking for a lucrative opportunity in the competitive food-and-beverage space, this is it! Over the past few years, the range of events being catered has exploded, including adult and children’s birthday parties, sweet 16 celebrations, corporate catering, sporting events, art exhibits, music festivals, street food events, beach parties, and more. Moreover, in addition to craving new culinary experiences, consumers are hungry for unusual locations that stand out from the crowd, leave an indelible memory, and that are Instagrammable to boot. While terraces, patios, gardens, and parks remain popular outdoor catering picks, some of the new kids on the block include the likes of famous art museums, landmark historical buildings, private yachts, and even the zoo!

Catering Headline News

To give you a taste for what’s been cooking on the grand-scale, elite side of catering, check out the following headline news items. Then sink your teeth into some more practical, down-to-earth tools and strategies that you can use to promote your small business or local catering company.

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Snacks Take The Food Industry by a Storm

Last updated on September 17th, 2019

Update your menu to cash in on the booming snack and all-day breakfast food market

If you’re wondering what’s new in U.S. foodservice these days and what popular items are filling consumers’ plates – well, you can start by putting the plates aside because it’s snack time, America!

Indeed, snacks have become one of the largest and fastest growing segments in the food-and-beverage biz with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Replacing traditional meals are small grab-n’-go items, portable cups and bowls, single serving-size eats and treats, and miniature – well – just about everything.

And there’s more. The estimated $100 billion-plus snack market is anything but conventional. While the traditional fanfare is still holding its own (think potato chips, pretzels, nuts, and popcorn), the once narrowly defined market has expanded to include the likes of microwaveable soup cups, fruit kabobs, yogurt parfait cups, cut veggies, smoothies, and pancakes on a stick as consumers reach for small snacks that offer big taste and anything that can be marketed as portable. The largest percentage of snackers are Millennials at 66%, with Gen Z and Gen Xers close behind. However, since all age groups and demographics enjoy snacking, a plethora of service opportunities are now available to providers.

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What’s New In Coffee Flavors?

Learn about the best coffee flavors, blends and brews and how to incorporate them into your biz.

Looking for the best coffee flavors around? Since there are literally hundreds of varieties of coffee from around the world and new blends, new combinations, new flavors, and new twists to the traditional being concocted all the time, there is no definitive answer to which cup of java takes the top spot. However, if you work in the food-and-beverage business, one thing is for certain: No matter what type of eatery you work in be it restaurant, catering service, bar, bakery, pizza shop, food truck, or fast-food venue, a cup of coffee is always on the menu!

So, let’s pull back the lid on what’s been brewing in the world of coffee and get a taste for some of today’s most popular picks, including what the experts and java-lovers claim are the best coffee flavors to sample and savor.

All About Coffee

So how much do you really know about coffee? For example, are you and your staff up to speed on the four types of coffee beans and coffee bean roasts? Are you aware that today there are myriads of espresso variations in as many delectable flavors? Do you know how to prepare Turkish coffee and what makes this Middle Eastern beverage such a hit among black coffee lovers?

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New in Smoothies 2019 – Just in Time for Summer

New smoothie ingredients add flavor to foodservice menus this summer.

Smoothie season is here! With summer upon us, now is the perfect time to update your restaurant and foodservice menus and learn all there is to know about what’s new in the smoothie industry. And one thing we know for sure is that the smoothie market is flourishing. With food trend predictions forecasting sunny skies for the future of smoothie sales, what began as an obscure concept and simple fruit juice and ice drink in the 1930s, has become a booming business and a modern-day success story.

Smoothie Expansion

Offering lucrative growth opportunities for industry players, smoothies continue to gain traction and are riding the wave of popularity as:

  • a healthy snack option;
  • bona fide meal or breakfast replacement;
  • an energizing pick-me-upper;
  • a versatile, alluring, fun, and decadent dessert.

Moreover, 2019 smoothies are comprised of an expanding smorgasbord of ingredients. From pureed raw fruit mixed with crushed ice and sweeteners (honey, sugar, syrup, and stevia) to the addition of vegetables (carrots, spinach, seaweed, and even hot peppers); dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), and non-dairy alternatives (oat, pea, and coconut milks), the selections abound.

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