The health revolution has prompted a lot of chefs to make better choices about the food that they make. The back to the basics movement is definitely on and the support that it’s getting from a lot of people is a sign that it is here to stay. There’s a lot to be said for patronizing local food products – it contributes to a better economic scenario, it is a positive point for the environment and the green revolution and fresh local produce definitely tastes a whole lot better than canned or processed foods.
The concept of bringing food straight from the farm to your table is nothing new. But the convenience of instant fare has always prevented its success. Now, a lot of restaurants are supporting the idea and some have even taken the initiative a step further by investing in their own farm, growing their own produce and raising livestock.Read More
What are the Benefits of Growing Your Own Food?
With every passing year, we are seeing an increasing concern with being environmentally friendly. And this has only added to the benefits of growing your own food. This has become a practice that more and more people are getting into. This may seem like a long process at first, but growing your own fruits and vegetables is not as hard as it seems, and it is very rewarding. Once you have established a system and schedule, it is pretty much smooth sailing from there. Below are its most significant benefits.
1) Healthier. Food in stores is increasingly getting filled with chemicals that we once thought were organic. By growing your own food, you are in control of its environment so you are sure that what you are consuming is safe. In turn, your family is able to pick up the habit of eating healthier fruits and vegetables.
2) Save money. Because of the economic slump, families are now getting into ways to reduce their consumption and save money. With a farming system at home, you can save money on your grocery bill in the long run, especially that most fruits and vegetables seeds will not cost you more than a dollar.Read More
A restaurant can not take take-out for granted. A considerable chunk of its revenue comes from to-go orders. Take-out customers take the dining experience beyond limitations of a restaurant’s floor space and capacity, and into their own personal spaces. The restaurant must set up the technology, the manpower, and a streamlined process that is required for this side of the business.
Firstly, the question must be answered — how will customers place their orders, and how can accuracy be assured? There must be an efficient order system in place. It can be as simple as a dedicated counter and order-taker, and maybe a telephone line. Other channels that can be considered are text, email, or via a restaurant’s website or via a downloadable app — but the infrastructure must be set up and tested, and staff must be trained.
Secondly, there’s the question of packaging. How will the dishes be packed? The kitchen staff must figure out a way to make the presentation of take out orders pop out, so that customers may derive the same visual pleasure as they do in the dine-in, or at least approach it. Containers must be sturdy and spill proof, and they must show the restaurant’s dishes in the best way possible. Ken Dart and Dart Containers have provided food containers for many well known national food chains, including McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts. The company manufactures plastic containers that fit my own restaurant’s requirements quite nicely, especially the stackable containers that come in different sizes but are fitted for the same lid — which contributes to and efficient to-go system.
Lastly, there must be very clear “consume by” instructions as well as those for reheating. Food safety is not negotiable and must be given a lot of thought and emphasis. A restaurant is only as good as its reputation, and many have been brought down by a case of food poisoning.
What a privilege it is to be invited to the intimacy of patrons’ dining tables! It is precisely this honor bestowed by customers that is the to-go service’s raison d’etre. The excellence and quality of the dishes and the service must not disappoint. Expectations must be met, patrons’ appetites must be satisfied, and more.Read More
We know that whatever we ingest will become assimilated into our bodies and affect our health. This has been drilled into our heads ever since we were little. This was the foundation for many a dinner table battle of wills. “Drink your milk.” “Eat your vegetables.” “It’s good for you.”
It’s not a secret either that our diet affects our minds as well. We screw with our brain chemistry and kill some neurons with drugs. We can trip out with some fantastic colors or horrifying monsters with some LSD. We can numb our mental faculties with alcohol. If we can swallow stuff that can make our mind go wrong, we can ingest stuff that can make it go right. We know this from experience, because we have felt how pleasurable a good meal can be. We have probably relished how strawberries and champagne can help get us “in the mood”.
For example, a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which is found in fatty fish like salmon, has been found to enhance memory and learning, and has improved the performance of young children in school. Among older adults, Omega-3 reduces the risk of depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.
A balanced diet can make us generally happier people – and we’re not just talking about the magic of morning coffee here, or the power of a piece. Eating small healthy meals throughout the day regulates our blood sugar levels, and hence, our level of alertness. Thus our moods are balanced out as well, unlike the manic high of a sugar rush, which quickly spirals down to its crash. Eating whole grain, and striking a balance between carbs and protein, keeps the blood sugar steady, and keeps our moods from vacillating wildly. It helps us to not be depressed, or at least not too much, when we fail or are rejected. It could also keep us from getting panic attacks if we left our car keys in the car, and instead just calmly call a locksmith – Toronto has a lot of them, such as Citywide Locksmith.
In short, we can actually eat our way to happiness – although not in the way most people might think.Read More
A restaurant menu is not just a list of food with prices; it is a reflection of your restaurant style and concept. It is not something that is hastily written up, but is an important marketing tool that should be carefully considered. The descriptions, layouts and colors of the menu should match the restaurant theme, concept and location.
Before designing your restaurant menu, it would be wise to check out your competition first. Take a look at their website and go through their menu to see the price range of their meals. Also, look for any similarities and differences between your prospective restaurant menu and theirs.
Restaurant Menu Description
When writing the descriptions of your menu items, a good rule of thumb is to keep it short and simple. However, the description should be enticing and vivid enough to make the mouth of anyone who reads it water. Always explain what the major ingredients are in a particular dish. Consider using ethnic names, when appropriate, to add a bit of authentic flair to the menu description.
Restaurant Menu Design
The design of a restaurant menu is a reflection of the restaurant itself. Its colors and layout, whether casual, formal or playful, should match with the theme, concept and location of the restaurant. The font color scheme should reflect the restaurant theme as well. Be careful in choosing a font that is too small or hard to read.
Restaurant Menu Pricing
Food cost and portion control and two ways that will help price your menu correctly, so make a profit but be careful that you do not go beyond the local market. Another way to ensure a profit is to create a balance of expensive and inexpensive items, limiting the use of market price items which have the greatest fluctuation in prices.
Restaurant Menu Sections
The typical menu from most restaurants is arranged sequentially: appetizers, soups and salad, main entrees, desserts and beverages. It is essential to have the sections clearly identified, either by borders, boxes or headings. Highlight the special dishes with a star or other insignia, like the chef’s specialty or a house favorite, to draw a customer’s attention to popular dishes.
Depending on the size of the restaurant menu, one or two columns would make for an attractive layout. Adding more columns will run the risk of looking like newspaper classified. The daily specials can be easily changed with a clear menu insert. Avoid adding to busy backgrounds or numerous pictures as this can make the menu hard to read. You might also want to avoid computer clipart as well as because this takes away from the professional look of the menu’s design.
Specialty Restaurant Menus
Certain occasions like local festivals and holidays would be a good time to come up with a specialty menu. Mother’s Day would be a great example of when to use one in addition to your regular restaurant menu. Specialty menus will allow you to expand your standard dining selection while still maintaining over inventory and cost.
Not everyone can prepare food after a long day at work. What’s great about restaurants these days is that they offer a lot of options for their clients to choose from. And this is a smart option for people who still want their healthy portions away from home. The trick is in knowing the kind of food items that are good for you. Now this could easily become a serious test of your will because to a hungry person, everything on the menu will look and sound delicious.
So let’s break it down to bite size pieces. Since you cannot actually see your food being prepared, it means that you are probably getting more than your fair share of oils and seasoning. Now there’s really nothing you can do about this short of invading the kitchen which you probably won’t be allowed to do. To stay on the right track, here are some steps that can help you when eating out:
• No matter how hungry you are, eat your food slowly. Changing the way you eat is an important aspect that you do not want to neglect. Concentrate on what you put on your spoon and chew your food properly. This helps ensure that you keep your intake to manageable amounts. In short, you are less likely to overeat. You can also ask the waiter just how much is one portion. This way, you can split your order and choose another item that won’t be as heavy as the main dish. A salad plate or a bowl of soup is a good pair for any meal.
• Make smart choices by picking leaner pieces of meat. Most restaurants now highlight their healthy option items to make it easier for clients to choose items that would fit their diet. If this is not provided, ask the waiter for alternatives. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
• The way that your food is prepared also counts. Steamed or broiled versions are generally healthier than the fried versions because it does away with a lot of oil. You can request plain boiled or steamed rice rather than the fried variety. This holds true for potatoes as well. Dishes that are baked or broiled and are served plain are good alternatives to the mashed, buttered and salted kinds.
• Request that the dressing for your salad dish to be served on the side so you can control the amount that you add on to your portion. Vinaigrettes are your best bet.
• For soups, choose clear broths over cream based ones. This instantly cuts down on your fat intake and helps fill you up the right way.
• In response to the new consumer habit of counting calories, a lot of stores are publishing the number of calories of their food and drinks on the menus. This provides ready reference for clients because they can keep track of how much they are consuming. Alternatively, they can make good choices by sticking to items that are low in calorie.
• Say no to breads and other appetizers while waiting for your main dish. You are less likely to eat less if you don’t indulge in these items. And take your time in ordering dessert, you may find that you are too full to indulge. There are people though who feel that they need to satisfy their sweet tooth and if you’re like them, there are still a number of options open for you. A pudding for instance is a great option especially those that are made with real fruit. They are meant to satisfy both your craving for sweets and still fall within the healthy variety. Other low fat and sugar options include low fat yogurt, sorbet or a fruit puree.
Making wise choices when eating out is a habit that you develop through constant practice. Your food preferences will change as you adjust your choices and consciously pick items that are more beneficial for your body. Weaning yourself off from fast food choices may take extra work but you’ll reap the rewards in the long run. A healthy body is the one of the most important investment that you will make and the extra effort that you have to exert to get it right will be worth it.Read More
Never before has obesity been a common concern as today. With all the food choices that people are given, it can be a real challenge sticking to a proper diet. A regular portion of food served at most restaurants is often sufficient enough for at least two people. And yet, most would finish the entire plate without blinking because they feel that they are getting a great deal on their meal. If you really want to go out and eat, be sure to read another article we have on dining out while eating healthy.
This doesn’t sound like a problem but the consequence of eating big portions regularly can have serious medical consequences. If your eating habits are similar to this, it can lead to obesity which can be difficult to beat. Being obese can lead to the development of conditions like high blood pressure, certain types of diabetes, and stroke, among others.
The idea of losing weight is easier said than done because the reality is, people don’t blow up overnight. Years of choosing the wrong kinds of food and overeating causes the condition and it takes the same time, maybe even longer to correct the damage. But the upside to this is that difficult as it sounds, it can be done. It may take time to correct the condition, but with determination, you can lose the extra weight a pound at a time. For starters, keep an open mind and be realistic about your goals. Work on a weekly goal, it is healthier to do it this way. The ideal weight loss rate is a pound or two a week. Two of the major aspects of losing weight is diet and exercise.
To ensure success, the first thing that you have to do is to learn the basics of proper nutrition. This will help you lose the unwanted pounds and coupled with a regular exercise routine, can effectively keep them away. Here are some simple steps that you can take to begin a healthier lifestyle:
• Set a target. If you are moderately overweight, which means an excess of 50 to 60 pounds, gaining a weight loss of least 10% can minimize your risk for heart diseases. If you keep to your routine, the one to two pounds a week can add up and you’ll be nearer your target weight in no time at all.
• Make a decision to shift to a proper diet. You cannot try out a new “diet” and revert to your old way of eating as soon as you lose a little weight because you’ll gain it right back easily. You have to commit to a new way of eating altogether, make healthier options by knowing more about the food that you eat.
• Know food. There’s a lot of ground to cover on this topic. If you know more about calorie count and the nutritive value of food, you can make smart choices about what goes into your body. This could mean choosing more fruits and vegetables than loading up on donuts and other sweets. Nutritionists encourage patients to choose food items that are naturally colorful such as broccoli, peppers and carrots because they are loaded up with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
• Maintain a food journal. It’s easy to say that you’re going to eat right but you’re up for difficult times ahead. Get the extra help you need by filling out a food journal. This will greatly help you stick to your plan and will allow you to keep tabs of what you take in. Log in on a daily basis to make you conscious of your eating habits and check areas that you can improve on. And make sure that you jot down everything you eat to gain a realistic view of your progress.Read More
From Italian pasta to Chinese restaurant recipes, the following delicious and healthy dishes should fit right in. Saving you the unnecessary calories and fats while satisfying your appetite and taste for exquisite flavors, these truly deserve space in even the most sophisticated restaurants. Check them out below.
Spicy Pecan Popcorn Chicken. Pair crunchy and spicy pecan-crusted chicken nuggets with a creamy ranch dip. If you cannot find coarse breadcrumbs for the nuggets, use Grape-Nuts instead.
Chicken Piccata with Pasta and Mushrooms. Serve chicken piccata over whole wheat pasta with a rich lemon-caper sauce that is made with extra-virgin olive oil and a touch of butter for flavor. If you like, you can use mild fish like tilapia or shrimp instead of chicken breast.
Classic hamburger. Slow-cooked onions will add flavor and moisture to lean beef burgers. A quick mixture of vinegar, relish, ketchup and mayonnaise makes a sweet, tangy and creamy sauce for this burger. Dill relish is great, but you can use sweet relish if you like. Serve this with sweet potato fries.
Oven-Fried Fish and Chips. Traditionally, fish and chips are sold wrapped in paper to soak up all the grease, which is not exactly a good sign. To cut calories and fat, coat the fish in a crispy cornflake crust and bake it together with sliced potatoes. Serve this with coleslaw and lemon wedges or malt vinegar.
Grilled Chicken with Sweet and Sour Vegetables. Top grilled chicken tostadas with rich mole sauce and sweet and sour summer vegetables. Store-bought tostada shells can be used for convenience. To make this a vegetarian dish, the grilled chicken can be left out.
Old-Fashioned Spaghetti and Meatballs. To stretch ground beef, use high fiber bulgur and whole wheat breadcrumbs on the meatballs, and then bake them rather than frying them.
Buttermilk Oatcakes with Raspberry Compote. Make high fiber oatcakes with 100% whole grains and no butter. A quick raspberry compote is a nice change from maple syrup.
Southwestern Cheese Panini. Colorful vegetables and salsa make cheesy panini prettier than any grilled cheese. The small amount of cheddar cheese in the sandwich will go a long way because it is sharp and shredded. Serve this with mixed salad for a delightful lunch or light supper.
BBQ Chicken Tenders. Made with boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, these crispy chicken wings will stay crispy with only a light coating of oil. Serve this as an appetizer or have them for dinner with crunchy vegetables and dip on the side.
Farmer’s Market Fried Rice. Featuring a fall mixture of sliced Brussels sprouts and parsnips, cook fried rice dish with whatever is fresh and in season. This works best in a wok since it requires little oil to prevent sticking.
Quick French Onion Soup. This is a favorite but is usually not substantial enough to make a complete meal. This can be resolved by adding fiber-rich chickpeas to a broth flavored with sherry and onions. Top toasted whole wheat with cheese and pour the soup on to melt it.
While these dishes are as delicious as they seem, do not forget that one of the best ways to dine is to grow your own food. You can more easily control your nutrition and budget by growing your own food and cooking at home. Of course, during the special occasions, you can visit a fancy restaurants with dishes that we described in this article.Read More
If you have lived all your life in a crowded city, you might feel that life in the country could be a good change of pace especially when you consider the fresh air and the greenery in the countryside as well as the fresh produce that you can get harvested the same day to prepare into healthy meals. Take my friend Mike for example. He is now a farmer in the countryside and says he would never change his current lifestyle for anything else, not even life in the bustling city that I live in.
Mike once invited me to his farm for the weekend, just to catch up on the latest gossip about our circle of friends and also to show me around the farm that he has been living in for the past 10 years. The first thing I noticed when I reached his farm is that the air suddenly seemed much cooler. I think this is because Mike made it a point to plant many kinds of trees around the perimeter of his farm. These trees serve not only to demarcate the boundaries of his farm but also to provide shade. The result was that the air was cooler throughout the farm even at noontime when the sun was at its peak.
The other benefit of having so many trees in the farm is that Mike was able to harvest fruits at the appropriate seasons to sell at the nearby market and also to enjoy by himself. Of course, having so many trees means maintenance as well so Mike would occasionally hire his neighbors to help him prune back the branches of the trees and harvest the fruits with him. The trees were so well maintained that they bore fruit every year without fail and thus repaid Mike and his neighbors with fresh fruits that they could either sell to other people or keep for their own consumption.
Because Mike and his neighbors were able to enjoy fresh fruits (and fresh vegetables from the gardens they planted in their respective properties) it is not surprising that Mike and these other people were relatively healthy despite the fact that they could rarely afford pricey visits to their doctor. I bet this is the best reason of all to justify a permanent move to the country and run your own farm there. The fresh air is also a marked contrast to the smog I usually breathe in where I live so it is not surprising either that Mike has never had to go to the doctor in so many years for any serious respiratory illness.
The icing on the cake is that Mike has a steady livelihood because the produce from his farm is bought by many eating places in the area where he lives. This is called the “farm to fork” type of system which simply means that the customers at those eating places enjoy food that is as fresh as it could possibly be because the ingredients are freshly slaughtered or harvested the same day that the food is cooked. So everyone in this cycle of production and consumption actually benefits – which is why I plan to retire to a farm too when I get to retirement age in the future.Read More
The restaurant business (from an outsider’s point of view) may seem glamorous and fun. In reality, running a restaurant has to be one of the most challenging businesses you can ever enter into. The reason you may encounter difficulties keeping your restaurant alive is simply because it is hard to keep customers flocking to your eating place consistently, day in day out. This is why many restaurants go under easily after the honeymoon period with the media and the celebrity endorsers has ended and the restaurants have to contend with mundane regular business every day.
If you want your restaurant to survive, you have to think in terms of “relevance”. This simply means: why would the people in the community keep going to your restaurant regularly? How relevant is your restaurant to their lives? Take note it is not simply a matter of serving tasty or even healthy food. It is a question of: why would your customers fit in the cost of eating at your restaurant into their daily or weekly or even monthly budget?
Remember that it is usually cheaper for people to buy raw ingredients and prepare their food at home themselves. So why would they take the trouble and pay the higher cost of eating at your restaurant even once a week at minimum? This means you have to look into the minds of your ideal customers to see what attracts them to your restaurant and what would keep them coming back even once a week if necessary.
Some chefs or restaurant owners have a hard time imagining what an ideal customer thinks when this customer is considering where to eat. So they take the smart step of asking their existing customers directly. You will notice that some chefs step out of their busy kitchens to go around tables in their restaurant and greet the diners. The chefs will then ask the customers if the food they ordered is pleasing, if it meets their expectations and standards, and if they have any negative comments that might be important to take note of. This is a very good way to identify problems (and even troublemakers in the restaurant staff) that could derail the smooth business of running a restaurant.
Sometimes food is not the main problem that will affect the relevance of your restaurant. For instance, the comfort rooms may be smelly and unmaintained which can be a big turn-off to some diners especially if the smell drifts into the dining area too. Slow service can also be distressing to customers, especially those who were expecting food to be served hot and fast. Another possible problem is rudeness by the restaurant staff which may affect the positive image of the restaurant.
But let’s not forget too that food is the core service of your restaurant. So take notice of which dishes seem to be popular with the crowd and at what days and times these dishes fly out of the kitchen. You might notice that some of your prized dishes are not that popular – in that case, you may have to remove them from the menu and substitute them with more popular dishes. This should be done promptly to avoid stocking up on ingredients for such unpopular dishes that won’t be ordered anyway by the diners.Read More