With green living and clean eating continuing to gain popularity, it is unsurprising that healthier snacks, such as seeds, are becoming some of the more popular snacks in America. As of 2015, an estimated 94% of Americans claimed to snack at least once per day.
While this is great for the snack industry as a whole, how does it impact the food and beverage industry?
For restaurateurs, the trend toward clean eating presents an opportunity to improve customer satisfaction while simultaneously creating delectable, unique dishes intended to draw in health-conscious diners. The easiest (and likely most cost-efficient) way of doing this, without revamping the entire menu? Seeds! Seeds can be easily incorporated into traditional dishes at a relatively low cost for the business. By substituting them for less healthy ingredients or simply sprinkling in a handful, restauranteurs can add a little flavor to dishes and bring in more business by appealing to a market segment with little to choose from elsewhere.
Spice It Up With Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds have more calcium than milk and a very low glycemic index, making them invaluable as a functional food and a great choice for chefs looking to pack nutritional value into their dishes. For example, folding sesame seeds into starchy sides, such as rice or potatoes, adds nutritional value to the dish while also adding a nice crunch.
Restaurants can also make a homemade tahini as their signature menu item for use on a number of dishes. Tahini – made from vegetable oil and ground sesame seeds – is a main ingredient in hummus. However, restaurants looking to expand their sesame usage can also experiment with using tahini in other ways. From tahini salad dressing to tahini cookies, there are a number of ways chefs can incorporate tahini into their dishes, allowing for the restaurant to be marketed as a much healthier alternative to their competition.
It’s Always Sunny with Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E and linoleic acid, making them an extremely heart-healthy part of any meal. Because of their health benefits and flavor, sunflower seeds are often used in many vegetarian dishes. At the most basic level, sunflower seeds can be used to spice up salads. A handful of sunflower seeds adds a tasty, earthy crunch to any dish. However, sunflower seeds can be used in a number of other, more interesting ways. Sauteing sunflower seeds alongside squash and zucchini gives the dish a noticeably different flavor and provides a nice, refreshing texture difference. Bakeries across the globe have offered sunflower cookies for some time, yet this particular food item is oddly absent in many restaurants. For health-conscious diners who’d like a nice, light, after-dinner treat, sunflower cookies are a perfect choice.
Flax Seeds – The Smooth Criminal
Another way restaurants can tap into the health food craze? Smoothies. A $5 billion-a-year industry, smoothies are carving their own niche in the food and beverage space. Marketed as a meal replacement, smoothies and smoothie bowls can also serve as a great after-dinner dessert. Offering seeds, like flax and chia, as mix-ins for smoothies, yogurts, cobblers and other desserts provides restaurants with an differentiator that they can use to capitalize on the health-conscious segment.
At the end of the day, more consumers are searching for healthy options when they go out to eat. With nuts and seeds rising in popularity, restaurants have the opportunity to create healthier dishes that more consumers are searching for through only minor tweaks in their recipes.