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.
Continue reading More Uncommon Facts About Common Fruit and Vegetables
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.
Continue reading What You Didn’t Know About Common Fruit and Vegetables
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.
Continue reading Unique Fall and Winter Vegetables to Add to Your Restaurant’s Menu
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.
Continue reading Why Okra Should Appear on Your Foodservice Menu
Seaweed Consumption on the Rise
If you run a foodservice business and want to know what’s trending in the industry and what is expected to increasingly appear on 2019 restaurant menus everywhere, it’s time to learn all about the seaweed, aka sea vegetables. Recent Nation’s Restaurant News headlines reveal that seaweed is experiencing a tide of popularity, while James Griffen, an associate professor at Johnson & Wales University, reports that consumption of seaweed is growing 7% annually in the United States – and for good reason. Bursting with a rich array of nutrients and associated with multiple scientifically proven health benefits, the growing appetite for sea vegetables such as nori, kombu, and wakame is not expected to wane anytime soon.
What are Sea Vegetables?
So, what exactly are sea vegetables and how can you add seaweeds to your recipes and menus? Neither plant nor animal, sea vegetables are classified under a group known as algae. Also referred to as edible seaweed, they grow in marine salt waters as well as fresh water lakes and seas and are commonly found on coral reefs or in rocky landscapes. While relatively new to the Western palate, seaweed varieties have been a staple of Japanese diets for millennium. Remarkably, while some types of sea vegetables require soaking for 5-10 minutes before adding them to your recipes or dishes, most require no cooking or sautéeing whatsoever. Due to growing demand, while once available only in specialty shops and health food stores, you can now increasingly find seaweed varieties in local supermarkets and grocery stores as well.
Types of Edible Seaweed
Seaweeds are categorized into three main groups, based on color:
- Green Seaweed: Rich in chlorophyll; found in dark leafy greens and other green vegetables
- Red Seaweed: Especially high in carotenoids; known to have anti-inflammatory properties
- Brown Seaweed: Formidable source of iodine; popularly referred to as ‘kelp’
Continue reading How To Add Trending New Sea Vegetables and Edible Seaweeds To Your 2019 Menu
Cater With Vegetable-Based Drinks
An important part of any catered event is quenching your guests’ thirst. Nowadays it’s not enough to place a few bottles of sparkling water or Coke on each table; a beverage station – serving hot perked coffee, freshly brewed tea, and blended drinks that are created on the spot – is a feature that no event can do without. Smoothies and shakes have long been part of a caterer’s beverage repertoire, as they allow guests to customize their beverages with ingredients of their choosing. Now, however, with the arrival of warmer months, along with the increase in healthier menu offerings, it’s time to liven up your beverage menu by introducing your guests to fresh, bright, vegetable-based smoothies.
Eating and Drinking Healthy is Here to Stay
There are basically two options for including a beverage bar at the events that you cater: you can handle all the drink-making yourself (with staff that you hire and train), or you can outsource to a company that specializes in serving beverages at catered events. Either way, the drinks that you serve at your upcoming events will have to conform to the current trends: healthy, sustainable, and seasonal. When it comes to drinks, this means that your clients will be looking for freshly squeezed juices and blended smoothies made from organic, local, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Many people are trying to incorporate more vegetables in their diets, and juicing is a great way to capture a lot of vitamins and minerals from raw produce that might otherwise be lost during cooking.
Continue reading How Vegetable Shakes and Smoothie Bowls Can Put Your Business on the Map