How to enhance restaurant menus with fresh produce

By Sue Lewis
February 3, 2014
What “local” means: Understanding recent changes to Canadian food labelling

With a wide variety of fresh produce options available year round, it has never been easier to create new and enticing menu offerings for customers. Fruits and vegetables appeal to a wide range of diners, from health-conscious eaters to people with dietary restrictions, adventurous types eager to sample world cuisines, those on-the-go looking for a quick bite between work and social activities and busy families trying to balance convenience with nutrition.

A recent survey by the Canadian Produce Marketing Association concluded that over 95 per cent of Canadians asked feel they have eaten a healthier meal if it included fresh produce. The survey also confirmed that the average Canadian palate is expanding. Respondents indicate they are now choosing new produce that they would not have five years ago. Topping the list of new favourites are kale, mango, bok choy and the new produce superstar, Brussels sprouts.  Roasted, shaved into a salad or blanched and seasoned for use as a garnish, Brussels sprouts are showing up on menus everywhere.

Also trending in Canadian restaurants is putting produce to the centre of the plate, proving there’s more to vegetables than being a side salad. Adding veggies to pasta creations or grains for hot or cold meals expands menu options. Also exciting is the move of produce to non-traditional meal times, with breakfast leading the way as the meal that is seeing expanded produce offerings included on menu. Some examples include more fresh fruit to accompany breakfast entrees as well as items such as fresh vegetable omelettes and fruit or vegetable smoothies.

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