Healthier eating has been highlighted as THE fastest-growing megatrend affecting menu choices over the next 3-5 years (MCA Top of Mind 2017) – so it’s time to make sure menus are fit for purpose! – Super-charged catering for health-conscious diners With the UK in the realms of an obesity epidemic, how can operators flex their muscles and cater for needs of a new wave of diners who are demanding healthy but inventive and delicious options? Here, nine chefs have joined our bootcamp to share their thoughts and ideas…

Carlos Ragone, head chef, The Four Seasons Hotel, St Fillans, Perthshire It is very important to incorporate healthy options going forward within any menu development and for those that want to be more subtle this can be done in ways that are not ‘in your face’ health – not everything has to be a salad! A regular seasonal item on our menu is venison, one of the healthiest eating options available, high in iron and protein and low in fat. Restaurateurs should be focusing on balanced, nutritious food items, colourful dishes (vegetables) and incorporating a wide variety of minerals and nutrients, contributing towards a balanced meal. Vegetarian dishes provide the opportunity to be creative using such items as micro herbs creating a tapestry of taste to tickle the jaded palette!

Myles Hopper and Giles Humphries, co-founders of Mindful Chef At Mindful Chef we’ve experienced first-hand the massive shift towards healthier eating. People are more concerned about their health than ever before and more of us are actively trying to find ways to live healthier, better lives. We make it as easy as possible for our customers by providing them with all of the tools they need to make healthy eating easy and achievable long term. Making such small ingredient adjustments, we’ve found, makes a huge difference.

Mindful Chef swaps: Swap out refined carbohydrates for:
• Brown, black or wild rice
• Quinoa
• Millet
• Carrot (noodles)
• Butternut squash (noodles)
• Courgette (courgetti)
• Cauliflower rice
• Swap refined sugar for natural honey
• Cream for coconut cream
• White potato for sweet potato or butternut squash.

Matt White, chair of the University Caterers Organisation (TUCO) and director of catering, hotel and conference services at the University of Reading Value for money is more important than ever, especially for university students. Nearly a third have gone without eating for a day or more to help cope with the cost of living, according to research by The Student Room. That’s why it’s so important that higher education catering outlets help young people to balance their health and wellbeing with the demands of being on a tight budget by offering promotions on healthy meal deals. These still need to be enticing and on trend, so many of our members are developing exciting and nutritious meal choices and pairing them with more unusual and artisan soft drinks – think sushi meets bubble tea!

Ben Bartlett, celebrity chef and brand ambassador for Lion sauces A fashionable and low -fat brunch dish is the flavour-packed Middle Eastern shakshuka. Simmer chopped tomatoes with Middle Eastern Hot Sauce until reduced, add fresh parsley and place a poached egg in the centre. Similarly, Asian cuisine often features lots of fresh, crisp vegetables. Try a Koreanstyle dolsot bibimbap, an enticing combination of rice topped with thinly sliced mushrooms, courgette, carrot, red cabbage, mouli, bean sprouts and edamame beans, all served in a hot stone bowl. Add strips of stir fried beef and Korean hot chilli sauce, with an egg yolk as the centrepiece.

Philip McGuiness, who set up pan-Asian restaurant group Tootoomoo in 2012 The simple reason I started Tootoomoo is because I wanted to bring fresh, healthy, good quality, great tasting food to people. I firmly believe that Pan Asian food and ingredients delivers on all of this, plus it offers variety as it’s very broad. I think people want more choice and convenience, they want to see the food being cooked in front of them. Some Pan-Asian ideas from Tootoomoo to try: • Bun Chay – lemongrass tofu and mushrooms, vermicelli rice noodles, coriander, mint and beansprout salad with sweet chilli • Pickled wakame and hiyashi seaweed with black pepper and sesame dressing, garnished with pumpkin seed edamame and roasted sesame seed • Vegetarian potstockers – steamed and panfried dumplings filled with mushroom, aubergine, spinach, water chestnut, Korean chilli bean paste and miso, served with an orange ponzu dressing

Preston Walker, kitchen manager/ director at Oak House Residential Home and the NACC’s regional chairman for the Midlands region My ‘go-to’ strategies to encourage residents to make healthier choices, if required, include: ensuring the menu cycle is not repetitive and includes personal preferences to keep their interest; food-related activities that promote healthier eating and introduce new foods; and pictorial menus to help residents understand their food choices. If a resident is reluctant to eat particular food groups, like vegetables, using them as an ingredient inside a favourite, familiar dish makes them more acceptable and increases intake. Grating onion, carrot, courgette, peppers etc. into the mince of a cottage pie, or adding sweet potato to the mash topping is a winner.

Joe Wicks, fitness guru and author I think you can always find a lean option on a menu. I guess one thing I’d say to chefs looking to create lean meals is don’t be afraid of fats, especially good fats. A bowl full of leaves is not going to fill anyone up, but if you throw some fats in you’re going to create energy and enable the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. So don’t be afraid of avocados, nuts, seeds, salmon and little bits of butter and cream are all fine too. Being lean doesn’t have to be dull. Try: • Grilled salmon with avocado, feta and pumpkin seeds with watercress and coriander • Tandoori salmon with spinach and mange tout • Eggs baked in avocado with chilli flakes and (optional) bacon rashers for delicious brunch

James Davidson, executive chef, Rich Sauces Making small changes in our food choices will help with a healthier lifestyle. Take the humble shepherd’s pie, trade the potatoes for sweet potato mash, using lean mince chop plenty of winter vegetables and cook them with the meat to add flavour and texture. This will up the vegetable intake and reduce the amount of carbs you take on board. Serve with a light salad of green beans, mixed leaves, cherry tomatoes and chilli (if you dare) using a light dressing of course!