Some chefs in the nation's capital are tweaking their normally meat-heavy menus to offer flavorful dishes of fresh, seasonal vegetables to woo not only the vegetarian crowd, but omnivore diners searching for healthier options. "It's really important to use healthy fats and high-quality oils, vinegars and herbs for seasoning," said Ethan McKee of Urbana in Washington, D.C. "It's also especially important to cook with the seasons for vegetarian dishes because you're locking in produce at its peak freshness and flavor. Finally, when you add in legumes and grains like quinoa or farro, you can create a very interesting, satisfying dish."
Nutritionists pack lunches for their children that offer lean protein, low-fat dairy, plenty of fruit and vegetable options, and a treat. Registered dietitian Kit Broihier says she includes ingredients for a wrap, such as turkey, lettuce, tomato and a tortilla, so her daughter can make it herself, while RD Ilaria St. Florian says she tries to strike a balance between healthy foods and foods she knows her children will eat.
School nutrition professionals at one Minnesota school have become a model for preserving and freezing locally grown food. Since 2010, nutrition professionals have worked each summer to harvest vegetables from the school garden, which they later chop, pickle and freeze. The process allows the school to serve locally grown food over the winter, but some point out that the process is difficult and could benefit from a business partnership.
Chefs and restaurants will get more creative with salads and vegetable dishes next year as more consumers discover the benefits of going meatless at more meals, Technomic predicts in its trend list for 2013. Chicken and a wider selection of grains are also likely to show up on more menus next year, the report says, along with smaller dishes that feed our growing hunger for snacks.
McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King have all added "fresh" options to their menus, trying to capitalize on the fresh-food movement started by Subway and Chipotle. NPD Group said the chains want to attract weight-conscious Americans but will have a hard time overcoming their fries-and-burgers image.