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Lighten up sandwiches, salads for healthy flavor

For a large number of consumers today, healthfulness goes hand-in-hand with exciting cuisine. These enlightened eaters strive to make every calorie count in order to maximize nutrition as well as enjoyment when dining out.

Throughout the industry, the demand for healthier alternatives with outstanding taste is spurring operators to rethink how they make their menus. In fact, the Worlds of Healthy Flavors conference featured a presentation on “strategic calorie design,” or creating better-for-you dishes with nutrient-dense ingredients that satisfy flavor cravings at this year’s conference.

The fact is, with menu labeling going into effect, the calorie counts of many restaurant items are becoming public knowledge. Offerings of “skinny” foods and beverages and “lighter choice” menus with moderate amounts of calories and fat are becoming widespread. Healthy Dining, an organization staffed by registered dietitians, has an online search engine of more than 4,000 restaurant meals across the nation that emphasize lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and unsaturated fats.

In light of this, restaurant operators have a huge business opportunity to satisfy the health-minded consumer by lightening up sandwiches and salads, two of the most popular menu mainstays. Utilizing a healthier condiment that is full of flavor, such as reduced-fat mayonnaise, helps strike the right balance of healthfulness and flavor. With this as a versatile base, the universe of menu applications is vast, enabling operators to leverage virtually any culinary trend—such as global cuisines, local foods, the farm-to-table movement, snacking—while lightening up their menus.

For example, to create a lighter chicken sandwich that wows the palate, start by marinating boneless chicken breasts overnight in balsamic salad dressing. Then, grill, slice and serve the breasts topped with roasted red peppers, salad greens and sliced mozzarella cheese on toasted whole grain bread spread with reduced-fat mayonnaise. With half the fat and calories of regular mayonnaise, reduced-fat mayonnaise appeals to health-conscious consumers and gives customers all of the flavors they expect.

Similarly, reduced-fat mayonnaise gives the trendy Cubano sandwich lower fat and calorie credentials while maintaining its crowd-pleasing flavor. Just spread Cuban bread with reduced-fat mayonnaise and mustard, top with thin slices of Swiss cheese, roasted pork, ham and kosher dill pickles and press and toast the sandwich.

Lighter mayonnaise also stars in signature salads. A winning option is a lively Latin-style tuna salad mixed with diced jalapenos, red onions, tomatoes, chopped fresh cilantro and reducedfat mayonnaise. Or, to add intriguing crunch and sweetness to chicken salad, toss it with reduced-fat mayonnaise mixed with finely diced apples.

Providing healthier sandwiches and salads that satisfy the flavor cravings of consumers promises to be a long-term business model for restaurant operators. Premium-tasting mayonnaise with half the fat and calories of regular mayonnaise, but all of the flavor, is a key ingredient for success in this effort.

This post is sponsored by Kraft Foodservice

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