Premium salads prove health and flavor are not mutually exclusive
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Healthy and great-tasting restaurant meals are no longer mutually exclusive. In Technomic’s 2018 Healthy Eating report, 40% of consumers said they thought healthy options at restaurants taste better than they did two years ago.
Salad provides a good example of how healthy dining options have evolved. Now, instead of simple and straightforward salads of iceberg, cucumbers and tomatoes, diners have options at the likes of Sweetgreen, Chopt, Tender Greens and other expanding concepts that are elevating the process of salad making to an art form. These restaurants have built salads around ingredients including broccoli florets, quinoa, farro, shredded kale, edamame, antibiotic-free chicken, grass-fed beef, organic tofu and much more. By sourcing top-quality ingredients and providing a customized experience, these salad-centric operations have won over legions of fans.
The salad space is closely aligned with healthy intentions. Nearly half of restaurant guests who order salad—47%, according to Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Salad report—do so because they are trying to eat healthfully and consider it a good option. In Technomic’s Healthy Eating report, consumers noted the menu claims they look for most when choosing a healthy dish: natural ingredients (57%), items labeled as healthy (38%), organic ingredients (31%) and items labeled as light (24%).
A well-made salad can convey that healthy, natural and light message, but it’s not complete without the right dressing. Prepared dressings offer variety, premium quality and an important flavor boost without the labor.
Made with premium ingredients found in restaurant kitchens, Marie’s® dressings match the flavor, quality and texture of scratch-made dressings. With a fresh, clean, authentic taste, they are also free from artificial flavors and preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and gluten, positioning them at the forefront of the move toward clean eating.
Among the many varieties of dressings available, ranch ranks at the top with 51% of consumers in Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Salad report mentioning it as their favorite. That’s followed by Caesar (45%), Italian (45%), balsamic vinaigrette (36%) and French (35%). Hidden Valley® has expanded beyond its Original Ranch® dressing to offer premium versions of more favorites, including Italian, Caesar, Blue Cheese, Honey Mustard and more. Options include portion cups, pouches, and 32-oz. pour bottles.
Aside from salad, operators can build strong flavor profiles while keeping salads healthy using a variety of strategies. Building salads around spicy or bitter greens like arugula or chicory, for instance, can wake up the palate. Add-ins such as olives, feta cheese, pepperoncini, mandarin oranges, bacon (in moderation), dried blueberries, scallions, tortilla strips, chia seeds, grated raw beets, sprouts and more inject unexpected flavor and texture into a salad. Grilled or pickled vegetables and fruits expand the flavor and layer in exciting texture without adding excessive calories. Crowning this fresh creation with chopped nuts, seeds, savory granola, croutons, berries, fresh herbs, a sprinkle of sumac powder and other garnishes can create even more of a flavor impact.
Salads are no longer a chore to eat for dieters—from a menagerie of ingredients to health-focused dressings and nutritional toppings, salads are now a delicious meal to look forward to.