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Patients Eat With Their Eyes First

How a food looks tell the patient a lot about the food and the foodservice team accountability and experience. People use the way a food looks to judge the food for freshness and quality. When the food is visually appealing to a patient, you accomplish your mission of providing nourishment for the recovery and healing of your patients.

COLOR, SHAPE, SIZE AND POSITION OF FOOD MATTERS IN VISUAL APPEAL

COLOR: The most impactful eye appeal

  • Break up the colors
  • Enhance the colors
  • Make it “glisten”
  • Keep the colors natural

SHAPE: Ingredients

  • Vary the cuts of ingredients
  • Add textures to the dish

STYLE: Arranging ingredients, plating

  • Traditional – The Y style of plating
  • Modern plating
  • Simplicity

Aroma Strategies:

  • Include variety
  • Add flavor to comfort food
  • Herbs add color, taste and smell
  • Cooking techniques can enhance aroma and experience
  • Be aware of visual placement on the tray, temperature awareness, less is more, easy to handle and maneuver on tray space

For more on this topic, click here to watch Alluserv's last webinar!

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Parsley, Carrot Curls, Radish Flowers, Oh My!

A garnish is an item or substance used as a decoration or embellishment accompanying a prepared food dish or drink. In many cases, it may give added or contrasting flavor or texture. Some garnishes are selected mainly to augment the visual impact of the plate, while others are selected specifically for the flavor they may impart This is in contrast to a condiment, a prepared sauce added to another food item primarily for its flavor. A food item which is served with garnish may be described as being Garni, the French term for 'garnished.' Many garnishes in the past were not intended to be eaten but today is a different culinary playground.


I went to some of the foodservice culinarian leaders and asked them these questions:

  1. Can the food be the garnish?
  2. Or are traditional garnishes still mode of operation?
  3. What does a garnish do for the experience?

Here are their insights:

“In my opinion food should be the garnish in its own edible form. The old form of garnishes are out of trend. You might say, Elvis Parsley is no longer king or has left the restaurant! I prefer to see the plate like an artist palate. For example, a beet carpaccio with fanned out sliced beets with a dollop of goat cheese is eye catching and makes the food more appealing. Customers eat with their eyes and this is precisely why you see so many customers taking food selfies. The top restaurateurs understand "the art of food is from their palate to your palate."


“Food garnishes in their traditional forms are edible, however does a person dining actually eat a piece of parsley on a prepared dish? Not to say that they can’t but most don’t eat the garnish as it hasn’t been appealing or appetizing. If the garnish becomes part of the dish and is the right component of the dish it can enhance the flavor or texture profile when consumed with the dish. For example, I make a braised boneless beef short ribs sliders with garnish of caramelized onions. It can be actually the best dining experiences are when the garnish becomes part of the embellishment of a dish to enhance the customers palate.”


An herb’s blossom tastes like the herb itself. So, thyme blossoms are subtly thyme-flavored; arugula blossoms taste like arugula, with a hint of honeysuckle. In season, look for blossoming herbs at the farmers’ market — or in the vegetable garden. Notice how an ordinary bunch of rosemary or sage is flecked with delicate, perfumed flowers.

Of course, there are other beautiful edible flowers to consider, like calendula and nasturtium and borage and marigold, ready to sprinkle, like fairy dust, as a garnish, or to make your food even more colorful.


Today’s culinary playground is fierce as foodservice venues and chefs try to compete with each other for dining clients and loyalty.

Variety and purpose of garnishes are being reimagined. It needs to become an important component of sustainability as in the past, the garnish in a traditional sense was added as eye appeal then discarded by the customer and not consumed. Waste!! However, if a chef creates a garnish that can be consumed and enhances the customer dining experience, the garnish becomes that add flavor or texture that separates recipes from competitors’ recipes. See pictures slideshow of other ideas to incorporate into your flavor, taste and sight experience. Use your imagination and reach beyond. We eat with our eyes and if it looks and tastes better we can get better nutrition too!

Written by Marsha Diamond, MA, RDN

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5 Food Trends in Healthcare

Bowls

     Eating food from a bowl is comforting and wholesome. Foodservice facilities have come to realize that bowls are a wonderful vessel for more than just soups or cereal. Health care facilities and restaurants alike are utilizing bowls to create portable, comforting meals. Plus, bowls can also provide your customers with a sense of independence. Both from flavor, taste, and even to better person centric care for the physically challenged feeder.


Local Food

     The catchword, "local" has become a symbol of trust. As a result of the internet and social media, consumers are more likely to trust their small local farmer who offers healthy, seasonal foods. Often, food service operators use the names of these local farms in menu marketing.

     Consumers are not the only ones trusting in local food, physicians recognize the preventative health benefits of sustainable food systems. Now, a number of hospitals are using their massive food purchases, which feed both patients and staff, to support local food. Hospitals have a huge purchasing power and by supporting local food, the local economy is strengthened and healthier options are available at the hospital’s food service facility. “Hospitals hope that by modeling good eating habits and supporting local food systems, patients will take good eating habits home and communities will have greater access to fresher, whole foods.”


Chefs

     Hospital food is turning gourmet! Many medical centers have hired executive chefs to upgrade their food service menus, types of foods utilized and preparation techniques.

     Hospitals also hope these higher patient satisfaction rates will influence potential healthcare customers, like those looking for a place to have a baby or get elective surgery. Not only does chef-driven food at hospitals attract these new consumers, but there might be more at stake for hospitals than simply attracting new consumers. Under the Affordable Care Act, federal reimbursement is being linked more and more to patient satisfaction scores.


Condiments from Scratch

     By creating condiments and specialties from scratch, healthcare food service facilities gain a reputation for offering fresh, wholesome food for their patients, plus cultural diversity and ethnic flavorings. Consumers demand authenticity and this trend of making condiments from scratch can have a positive impact on their perception. Plus, the great thing about offering homemade condiments and specialty items is that the production may take place during off hours or may be done off-premise, thus the foodservice operation's workflow is not altered.


Individualistic Delivery

     Healthcare food service facilities are shifting to a more individualistic food service delivery model. The industry is seeing dining trends that are based on providing freshly prepared items, which are driving hospital foodservice operations to migrate from more batch-style cooking to models such as room service. Thus, patients are now given the opportunity to order what they would like to eat, when they are ready to eat. In turn, the shift to individualistic food service delivery has greatly increased the quality and freshness of hospital food. Another wonderful benefit of offering patients’ individualistic food service delivery is that facilities are now able to closely monitor patients with special nutritional requirements or allergies.

     Many healthcare foodservice facilities are offering ‘a la carte’ options. Special diets with a simple philosophy: “fresh, homemade selections minimizing the use of fat and sodium.” They want patients to taste the food, with most menu items being made to order to optimize freshness and minimize waste.

     Senior dining is focusing on individualized approaches too their person centric care approach. Giving each individual what they want from food, flavor, location and timing is being addressed for today’s customers.

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The Healthy Side of Comfort Foods

For patients in a hospital or healthcare facility, food is one of the only things they can control. Healthcare foodservice facilities can create a comforting environment for patients based around food.

With the cooler months ahead and temperatures dropping, it’s natural for patients to crave foods that hit close to home. Comfort foods promote warmth and familiarity, but the downside is that they are usually high in calories and fat. There’s a healthy side to comfort food, and we’re here to give your healthcare foodservice facility some new ideas so that patients can still enjoy their favorite foods.

Instead of completely changing foods to something unfamiliar, healthcare foodservice facilities can “makeover” patients’ favorite recipes so the foods remain familiar to patients. Comfort makeovers include multiple recipe tweaks like using meats and cheeses lower in fat, shrinking portion sizes, and adding vegetables and fruits.

Southwestern Vermont Medical Center’s foodservice operation (link: www.foodservicedirector.com/menu-development/creating-healthier-menus/articles/comfort-s-healthy-side) had to rethink a customer favorite: cheesy, crispy quesadillas. The original recipe was high in fat and calories, so the foodservice operation needed to trim down the popular snack. The team first shrank the tortilla from 10 inches to six, which decreased all of the fillings like low-fat mozzarella and shredded chicken. Plus, there was also less avocado and low-fat sour cream piled on top. The new quesadilla now comes in at 330 calories and 17 grams of fat, while the old, larger version had 880 calories and 43 grams of fat. This is a great example of a healthcare foodservice operation decreasing portion size and using meats and cheese that are lower in fat.

Another popular comfort food for patients in healthcare facilities is mashed potatoes. Instead of using whole milk and topping the mashed potatoes with thick gravy, the University of Rochester has a healthy version of this crowd favorite. The mashed potatoes are dairy-free and come with low-fat gravy made from mushroom broth, miso paste and cornstarch. This is a prime example of adding vegetables to a class recipe to make it healthier for patients.

Healthcare foodservice facilities can also lighten up classic comforting desserts like fudge brownies, cookies and cinnamon buns. For instance, try making this recipe for black bean brownies. That’s right – this recipe from the Food Network (www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/melissa-darabian/black-bean-brownies-recipe.html) uses black beans to create even fudgier brownies. It’s easy to add fruits and vegetables to these desserts without sacrificing texture and flavor.


What are some comfort foods that your healthcare foodservice facility is providing, and how can you make them healthier? Comment and let us know some of your ideas.