Restaurant operators searching for the most innovative healthful products in the marketplace were dazzled by the plentiful options on display at this year’s NRA Show.
From “superfood” hot cereal to guilt-free ice cream, dairy-free cheese, gluten-free pizza and low-in-sugar pastries, there was something for everyone to consider adding to their menus.
Here are a few nutrition trends we caught on this year’s show floor:
Living condiments: For years, many chefs used microgreens for garnish, but Koppert Cress USA is trying to change that. The Cutchoque, N.Y.-based company is promoting its ancient, heirloom varieties as living condiments with intense flavors. We tasted butterfly leaves, a type of clover from South America that tastes like Granny Smith apples and oyster leaves, a plant from northern Europe that looks like a succulent and tastes like, well, oysters. Our favorites? An ancient variety of wasabi and Sichuan buttons, which release a mix of sweetness and heats in a tingling, Pop Rocks-like sensation. “It’s not in the sense that you want to cry or it makes you sweat,” says general manager Nicolas Mazar.
Edible dinnerware and silverware: Environmentally safe cups, plates and packaging are gaining in popularity. But the new eco-friendly dinnerware available in the market take the concept one step further assuring that you can like a meal so much that you can even eat your fork, spoon or plate. The Italian dinner plates from Pappami are delicious, soft enough to eat but strong enough to hold your soup or meal and have a beautiful design. Mauro Vicentini from Pappami also emphasized that plates can be custom made with a logo or with a personal recipe. He also pointed out that the plates are completely vegetarian and only non-hydrogenated fats are used. Another company that presented their eatable products at the event was Bakeys. Originally from India, the company has recently opened its US operation. Sarah Munir from Bakeys has assured us that their products comes in flavors such as sugar, cumin, black pepper, ginger-garlic, ginger-cinnamon, celery, mint-ginger and carrot-beetroot. We tasted the products from both companies and they all left us hungry for more.
Ramen for grown-ups: You might remember five-for-$1 instant noodle packets from your college days. But fresh ramen is taking off everywhere – from university foodservice to ramen shops in Chicago, Las Angeles and even Nebraska, says Mike Gerber, national accounts manager, Ariake USA. The Harrisonburg, Va.-based company is known for bone-stock concentrates from turkey, beef, chicken and pork, but its big seller for foodservice is ramen soup and fresh noodles. Four types of ramen concentrate are available: vegetarian, miso, pork and chicken.
Edible bugs as a marketing tool: Crickets ground into flour for tortilla chips are probably the only way you want to see bugs in your restaurant. But Ed Gunther sees them as a fun way to get operators to think about pest control. The national accounts rep for Terminix used them as a hook to get people to talk about how to protect their brands and minimize risk. What’s top of mind right now? The Zika virus. “It’s a major, scary topic” that Terminix is battling with a new, safe, organic mosquito-control program. The long-time exhibitor also was talking up its rapid-freeze bed bug program.
Superfood hot cereal: Earnest Eats Hot & Fit Cereals, a 2016 FABI Award winner, was a crowd favorite. Made from whole oats, amaranth and quinoa, nuts, seeds and berries, the cereal is verified vegan and USDA-certified organic. It’s also free of wheat, dairy and soy and is high in protein. It comes in premeasured cups or in bulk.
Organic “guilt-free” ice cream: It took brothers Arnie and Ron Koss 10 years to create Brio! Ice Cream, an organic, high-protein, calcium-rich frozen treat that has 35 per cent fewer calories and 50 per cent less fat per serving. Another 2016 FABI Award winner, the non-GMO, certified gluten-free ice cream is flavored naturally with Madagascar vanilla, organic sea-salt caramel, dark cocoa, real coffee, ripe strawberries and Alphonso mango.
For photos of the 2016 event, please visit https://show.restaurant.org/Attend/Press. NRA Show 2017 will be held May 20-23 at McCormick Place in Chicago. For more information, visit Restaurant.org/Show and find the NRA Show on Twitter @NRAShowIntl and our year-round content hub Brainfeed.
Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 14.4 million employees. We represent the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocate on its behalf. We operate the industry’s largest trade show (NRA Show May 21-24, 2016, in Chicago); leading food safety training and certification program (ServSafe); unique career-building high school program (the NRAEF’s ProStart); as well as the Kids LiveWell program promoting healthful kids’ menu options. For more information, visit Restaurant.org and find us on Twitter @WeRRestaurants, Facebook and YouTube.