Healthy Dining: Vegetarian Variety

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By Maryrose Marbella

THE NATIONAL PURCHASE DIARY (NPD) GROUP STATES THAT “ONE PERCENT OF THE U.S. POPULATION IS VEGETARIAN, one percent is vegan and eight percent are flexitarian —
mainly vegetarian but with some exceptions. Based on identifying with being either vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian, many consumers don’t necessarily identify with being any of these “labels”, but may chose a non-meat entrée. In terms of health, more consumers (about 48%) are choosing to eat healthier foods at home. Restaurant traffic growth has been stalled for the last few years with more consumers eating at home, and the ability to have more control of the foods being consumed in terms of healthy eating is a contributing factor.

In answer to this shift in dining trends, savvy Chefs like Craig Strong at Studio at the Montage Hotel in Laguna Beach and Chef Mark McDonald at Old Vine Cafe are ramping up the number of healthy dining choices available on their menus. Each restaurant offers Vegetarian Tasting Menus and Chef Mark offers a Vegan Tasting Menu as well. The flavor and presentation compositions are sophisticated and delicious, which is enticing more flexitarians. Chef Strong’s menu items are also available à la carte.

New concepts such as The Public House by Evans Brewing Co. with menus of elevated pub
fare — burgers and flatbreads, etc. — are accommodating vegetarians with a variety of
options from avocado toast to seasonal salads, from the jump.

The healthy dining segment of fast casual concepts is on the rise with newcomers like
Butterleaf and Asian Box, who join local favorites like Green 2 Go, Veggie Grill, The Stand Natural Food Restaurant, Healthy Junk, Greenleaf Gourmet Chopshop, Native Foods and Active Culture.

Eating healthier is becoming relatively easy because of the abundance of local restaurants to choose from. These “healthy dining” restaurants are offering traditional menu items with a much healthier twist, such as tacos, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, bacon, and even wings. The secret is in the ingredients these Chefs with mad skills use by substituting vegetables for meat and seafood composing them so that the dishes taste like the actual thing.

With all these local restaurants embracing these new menu items, the national, original
healthier alternatives like Panera Bread, True Food Kitchen and Seasons 52 may have to
reconsider what to serve these healthy converts.

Trisha Calvo, of Consumer Reports, informs her readers of what they should eat based on food trends for 2017. In her list she includes: chocolate, jack fruit, plant waters, riced
cauliflower, bean pasta, yogurt, fermented foods, ugly produce, purple foods and power bowls.Many consumers are going to go to the supermarket to grab these premade items to eat at home, but Chefs and restaurants can use this information to create items to bring customers out of their homes and into their businesses.

Since the ability to have more control of the foods being consumed is a contributing factor,
restaurants willing take advantage of this new consumer and their trends need to target the audience with news of their menu items. Restaurants must come up with new, innovative ideas in addition to their staple dishes that will get people in their dining room. What changes can you make to your existing brand to attract more customers?


SEED TO TABLE
(Right page) from left to right, top to bottom

HAPPY HOUR Farmers Market Crudités
Chilled raw vegetables, tzatziki & black olive dip
True Food Kitchen

PIZZA OR FLATBREAD Veggie Flatbread
Organic, house-made marinara sauce, onions,
hand-sliced tomato, greek olives, broccoli,
artichoke hearts, hand-grated pecorino cheese
Green 2 Go

DESSERT Deconstructed Pistachio Pavlova
Pistachio ice cream, pistachio whipped ganache,
dried French meringue, candied pistachios rolled
in chocolate, lightly set crème Chantilly, pure
pistachio paste and lemon marmalade
Studio at the Montage Hotel

SANDWICH Grilled Portobello Bahn Mi
Pickled carrot & daikon, cucumbers, jalapenos,
fresh herbs, siracha aioli
The Public House by Evans Brewing Co.

MAIN Veggie Street Tacos
Charred cauliflower and brussels substitute meat
and Little Gems leaves are used as tortillas with
a variety of toppings including: leeks, pickled
radishes, pepitas, guacamole, salsa, micro greens,
Ricotta Salata, pico de gallo and sweet crema
Provenance

SIDE Fried Sprouting Broccoli
Crispy sprouting broccoli with soy sesame chile
sauce garnished with sesame seeds
Farmhouse at Roger’s Gardens

SECOND Hen of the Woods
Shitake & Beech Mushrooms, Yolk, Shaved
Parmigiano Reggiano, Chives. Photo by: Thamer
Bajjali of Petra Calling Photography (For the
recipe visit www.great-taste.net/recipes)
Old Vine Cafe

APPETIZER Avo Bombs
Butterleaf

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