Healthy & Tasty

Good nutrition in any foodservice operation is not just a matter of selecting the right foods to offer your campers. It is also important to prepare those foods in ways that maintain their nutritive benefits.

Stir-frying is one way to prepare healthy camp meals

Simply altering cooking techniques or ingredients can have a profound effect on the nutrient content of the foods we prepare. We will discuss cooking strategies and some fantastic secret ingredients chefs have used for years to add rich flavors while lowering salt and fats in your recipes.

Nutrition can be exciting if you adapt your recipes to maximize the flavors that are already there with the help of some great enhancement products.

Foodservice operators are blessed with a wide range of products that can make meal times exciting as well as healthy. Campers gathering for the evening meal after a full day of activities look forward to rich, flavorful menu offerings.

Although healthy and nutritious are not the first things on the diners’ minds, by adopting a few easy methods and techniques you can serve flavorful selections that also happen to be healthy.

Ingredients for Success

Without getting into the science of each ingredient, here are some easy alternatives that can make a big difference in the nutrition of your recipes.

• When sautéing, cooking or griddling your foods, substitute olive or canola oil for butter, margarine or liquid flavored butters. Liquid butters, especially, have a very high sodium content. Oils such as olive or canola are leaner and you get an additional benefit — the flavors of the food actually come through more because heavier fats such as butter or margarine mask or cover up your taste buds and foods seem less flavorful. Just this change heightens the flavor of the ingredients in your recipes.

• Remove the skin and trim all visible fat from meats. White meat contains less fat than dark meat. Turkey can be substituted for chicken breast. Turkey ham can be substituted for real ham. It really does taste like ham and works well in salads, sandwiches and breakfast dishes.

• Experiment with fresh herbs and spices to add bold flavor without any additional salt or fat.

• Lower that dreaded salt with professional chefs’ Secret Ingredients. Great chefs have long known how to add a rich boost of flavor to any recipe and reduce the sodium at the same time by using top quality food bases and flavor concentrates. Everyone remembers Bouillon Cubes, which are poor substitutes for scratch cooking. They are 80 percent salt with some dry flavors pressed into a cube or sold as an inexpensive food base for about $2 per pound. Today’s finest quality food bases are fresh pastes that are prepared using the actual meat and have only about 1/3 salt. These are the products you should use. Chefs in the finest foodservice operations use these in place of salt to richen every recipe. They know that you only use a base at about 3 percent of the total recipe weight, but it contributes a significant added flavor. This secret ingredient assures fantastic flavor every time. Most fine quality meat-first paste bases sell for about $5 per pound, but being the key flavors in a recipe, they only add a fraction of a penny per portion.

• Flavor concentrates are a new generation of products available just in the last few years. They are freshly made pastes with a very low amount of sodium (8-10 percent) that allow a chef to add great bold flavor on demand. Products I have used include Roasted Garlic, Roasted Red Pepper, Chipotle, Ancho, Sun Dried Tomato Pesto and Cilantro Lime and many great fruit purees.

• For low-fat baking success replace half of the butter or margarine in a recipe with applesauce, mashed ripe bananas or drained crushed pineapples. Substitute at a ratio of 3/4 cup of applesauce for every 1 cup of butter. I have learned that substituting only half the amount of fat still lowers the overall fat but does not make the item too lean and dry.

Methods that Make it Work

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