More Uncommon Facts About Common Fruit and Vegetables

Update your fruit and vegetable knowledge with this handy guide,

Welcome back to our series for foodservice professionals where we are discovering and uncovering details about the produce used every day in your commercial kitchen.

From fun facts to functional food tips, this guide is an opportunity to expand your culinary repertoire, learn about fruit and vegetable varieties you may not be familiar with, get practical tips on cooking and baking with various produce, and stock up on new recipes that are sure to dazzle and delight your customers.

What You Didn’t Know About Cucumbers

As we discovered in Part I of this series, contrary to popular belief, cucumbers are officially a fruit and not a vegetable. Either way, however, they are nutritious, delicious, and have been part of the human diet since ancient times. Originally grown in India and used for both culinary and medicinal purposes, some of cucumber’s therapeutic values include its soothing and cooling effects on the body which can alleviate sunburn, reduce swelling, reduce skin irritations, and nourish the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-diabetic properties (helping regulate blood sugar levels), while its high water content helps hydrate the body and get rid of toxins and waste materials.

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What You Didn’t Know About Common Fruit and Vegetables

Last updated on February 17th, 2020

Get familiar with the uncommon benefits of the produce appearing in eateries.

If you cook, bake, or cater professionally, this must-read is for you! In this factual yet fun-packed blog, you will discover what you didn’t know about some of the most common fruits and vegetables on the market. These are the same ingredients that you cook with daily, that you use to make decadent desserts, and that typically appear in your restaurants popular recipes and dishes.

Fruits and Vegetables Defined

Let’s begin our journey by learning what officially constitutes a ‘fruit’ and what properties define a ‘vegetable.’ At the same time, you will become privy to some surprising facts that will shake up some of what you thought you knew about the world of produce.

In a nutshell, foods that grow from a flower-based plant and that fit the criteria of having a fleshy and seedy inside are classified as fruits. On the other hand, vegetables come from plants that do not have seeds, and this applies to all edible parts of a plant, including its roots, stem, and leaves.

This makes potatoes, celery, carrots, and lettuce classic vegetables. However, many other types of produce popularly known as vegetables are really fruit! Case in point: Tomatoes, string beans, eggplants (think fleshy texture with seeds), pumpkins, squash, avocados, zucchini, and even cucumbers… by definition, these foods are technically fruit.

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How to Add Healthy Apricots to Foodservice Menus

Last updated on February 16th, 2020

Enjoy apricot cooking and baking tips, apricot recipes, apricot history, and more.

Whether you eat them raw, dried, or canned, there are countless ways to enjoy the healthy, tasty apricot. In fact, apricots are used to prepare a wide array of savory side dishes, sauces, oils, jams, and desserts. If you are a gourmet chef, professional baker, or own a restaurant or catering service, this blog will give you the 411 on cooking and baking with apricots. In addition, as we shine a sweet spotlight on this tart fruit, you will enjoy a myriad of new recipes to add to your menu while your customers enjoy being pampered by your new delightful apricot offerings.

Apricot Basics

Scientifically known as Prunus armeniaca, the apricot fruit has a thin, fuzzy, yellow or orange exterior with a tangy flesh and inedible pit inside. Less juicy – and hence less messy – than their peach, plum, and nectarine counterparts, they are perfect as a healthy snack and can be easily added to numerous recipes. Apricot oil can also be extracted from its kernel (seed) and like the fruit itself, it is packed with healthy benefits.

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Unique Fall and Winter Vegetables to Add to Your Restaurant’s Menu

Last updated on January 30th, 2020

Add these unique and largely unfamiliar fall and winter vegetables to your menu

With the fall vegetable season still in full bloom and the winter vegetable season looming, now is the perfect time for your restaurant, catering service, or other eatery to cash in on the plethora of delicious, nutritious vegetables currently available. To help your menu really stand out from the crowd, we have created a list of some the most unique fall and winter vegetables on the market, guaranteed to tweak your customers’ culinary curiosity, please their palates, and keep them coming back for more.

The selections – including shiso, fennel bulbs, crosnes, fiddleheads, celeriac, and many more – are some the most unusual, head-turning vegetables you have ever heard of. Add these veggies to your restaurant’s menu, combine them with some savvy business-boosting marketing techniques (think Pinterest and Instagram…), and what you have is a recipe for winter recipe success.

And that’s not all. If your chefs feel like they have exhausted their repertoire of recipe ideas for dishes made from run-of-the-mill potatoes, onions, squash, and other staples, it’s time to step out of the culinary box and sink your teeth into the likes of blue potatoes, tree onions, Hakerei turnips, delicata squash, Chinese water spinach, Chinese artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes, dragon carrots, black radishes, white asparagus – and the list goes on.

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Trash Fish Dining on the Rise as Chefs Embrace Sustainable Seafood

Last updated on January 27th, 2020

Learn why chefs are adding delicious, sustainable seafood, known as trash fish, to their menus.

If you work in foodservice, you are more than likely know that ‘trash fish’ and ‘sustainable seafood’ are the talk of the town in the food industry. They are also the most prolific catchphrases among fish providers, ecologists, and oceanographers these days. But do you really know what the phrases mean and what relevance they have to you and your customers?

For many, the answers to these questions still lie at the bottom of the sea Moreover, what is being labeled as trash fish (aka ‘garbage fish’ and ‘rough fish’) is probably NOT what you think it is! In fact, the term is a misnomer. So, let’s take a dive into the waters to separate the facts from the fiction and to get schooled on the latest buzz in the ‘biz.

Bycatch in the Seafood Industry

Did you know that over half of all U.S. seafood consumption comes from only three fish types – tuna, salmon, and shrimp – which are imported from outside of the United States and which are highly overfished? At the same time, hundreds of sustainable fish species swimming off local U.S. shores are being discarded by fishermen as part of their ‘bycatch’ – another trending term in the industry today. Bycatch refers to fish that are perfectly edible but that are being discarded as seafood caught ‘by mistake’ while fishermen target more in-demand varieties.

How Local Fish Are Becoming High-End Restaurant Dishes

In response, seafood providers and foodservice professionals have begun to collaborate by taking less-known, locally caught fish and turning them into high-end gourmet dishes. Leading these efforts is the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – a global nonprofit organization established to protect wild seafood, to educate the public about the value of different fish, and to end the trajectory of labeling entire schools of fish undesirable.

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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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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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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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