Come January 1, restaurant-goers around the country will have their newly minted gym memberships and will start keeping a watchful eye on calories.
But how can they quickly flip the switch on the indulgent and delicious holiday season for a kale salad with croutons? It’s time to transition consumers from their holiday comfort food to healthy with “skinny” versions of some favorite tastes and dishes. And we’ve got the “skinny” for your menu with ideas that’ll jumpstart your New Year’s Resolution of “adding more guests.” So, add comfort to your customers by supporting their resolutions.
Mash It Up
Let’s start with things we know, all mashed into one. Think about roasted acorn squash filled with pulled chicken, balsamic radicchio, toasted walnuts, and caramelized apples. Serve the chicken and fixings inside a squash half. This dish screams comfort to those longing for the meals of the late fall, early winter. Promote this as a comfort bowl of sorts with all the goodies but without the heaviness.
Or consider pumping up the appetizer menu without frying everything in sight with smoked pulled pork potato skins — the taste will warm up your customers’ flavor centers. Split a baked potato and scoop out enough to place smoked pulled pork, corn, beans, freshly diced tomatoes, and sliced jalapeno. This is easy-to-make and viewed as a premium item if you normally offer potato skins. And as a money saver, use the scooped-out potato halves to make garlic mashed potatoes with minced garlic, olive oil-based butter and lite cream cheese — gotta keep it skinny.
Add to that app menu with a simple killer winter salad, featuring chopped kale, dried cranberries, broccoli, bacon bits, pomegranate seeds, and sunflower seeds. Toss this in a buttermilk cucumber Ranch dressing to give it a little “weight” and extra taste.
Your guests will love diving into blackened salmon over a quinoa salad, tossed with lemon vinaigrette, diced cucumbers, blistered cherry tomatoes, dried cranberries, and topped with feta cheese. The freshness of the zesty quinoa salad balances the comfort of the blackened salmon. Serve with tasty vegetables, such as garlic asparagus or roasted broccoli.
If you have an Asian concept, or feature Asian-inspired dishes, teriyaki beef bowls pack a punch in terms of nutritional value and taste. Toss in pickled carrots and cucumbers, a fried egg, broccoli, fresh cilantro and toasted sesame seeds, and serve over brown rice. This is an easy lunch item add as well that provides premium taste and presentation for an affordable food cost.
For Italian concepts, or if adding pasta dishes, a one pan chicken Florentine dish is mouth-watering. Sear chicken breast with a white wine cream sauce (limit your flour and let most of the moisture evaporate before adding the chicken) and fresh basil, spinach, and diced tomatoes. Serve over a half portion of fresh pasta or try it on top of spaghetti squash.
And if you’re looking for more Italian, look no further than a mushroom gnocchi. Consider fresh gnocchi flashed in olive oil-based butter with caramelized chanterelle mushrooms, shaved Brussel sprouts, and bacon lardons. This is a heavy protein meal without the heavy food cost. Sprinkle fresh Parmesan cheese and parsley on top for a true chef’s kiss!