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Tropical Smoothie Making Headlines as "Healthy Fast Food"
Tropical Smoothie Cafe makes headlines
again this month as a pioneer of delicious smoothies that are healthy and fast.
The chain recently expanded
to open it's 300th store last May, with an increase in traffic and store sales to thank for its growing brand.
Last year, the store received a storm of media attention with its "Healthy Lifestyle"
promotional campaign, featuring menu items like low-calorie grilled flatbreads, free nutritional supplements, and baby carrots as a healtful side order.
Cheers to Tropical Smoothie for bringing fast, healthy food to the masses!
From the Desk of FoodCalc
Serving Diners with Special Dietary Needs
There is much discussion in the restaurant industry about the great responsibility that a restaurant assumes when serving a diner with special dietary needs. I remember a time a when it was quite rare to encounter someone with a food allergy, especially a life threatening one; nowadays we serve tons of people with specific food intolerances and sensitivities, or just intense preferences. It’s kind of a lot for the restaurant/hospitality industry to handle; not all servers and line cooks have a vast knowledge of what foods contain gluten, or what a food allergy even is.
A lot of the frustration from the food industry comes from the vast quantity of diners who claim to be “allergic” to this or that, which seems to be much more than the 6% of the population who actually are. Here are some of the specific problems that diners may cite when placing a special order, and what these terms actually mean:
Food Allergies – A food allergy is a chemical response to a food on the body that generates an anaphylactic response. These reactions can be quite severe and can be life threatening if not treated immediately.
Food Intolerances – The most common food intolerance these days is to lactose, a sugar found in dairy products. When someone is intolerant to a food, that food will not digest properly in their system and will flush through the body too quickly without being broken down, causing extreme discomfort and usually diarrhea. Celiac Disease is very similar to an intolerance, and has a similar reaction when those affected consume gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley). Unlike lactose intolerance, the food does not simply pass through the system undigested, it actually damages the digestive tract which can lead to other food not being digested and absorbed properly.
Food Sensitivities – People with food sensitivities can generally consume small amounts of the food that “bugs” them. The reactions to sensitivities can range from illness similar to an intolerance to a general “icky” feeling. Common reactions include swelling of the hands and feet, nausea, and fatigue.
Of course your diners probably won’t go into deep detail about which issue they will have with the food in question, but it may help to know what some of the outcomes may be. Some restaurants have chosen not to take on the liability, for these special needs diners because the risks are so high, but no one likes turning away business. It doesn't look like the discussion about allergens will be going away any time soon, so it might be helpful to train your staff on the differences between these terms, so they can better help diners and protect the restaurant operator.
How does your operation handle special dietary needs? Weigh in on our blog!
Alyson Mar, RD, is FoodCalc's Director of Nutrition and an expert contributor for the Manage First culinary educational program. Considered a subject matter expert by the industry, Alyson is registered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration, and a member of the American Dietetics Association.
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Monthly Laugh - Delivery Night
A man ordered a takeaway pizza. The waiter said: "Shall I cut it into six pieces or twelve?"
"Six please. I could never eat twelve."
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Q: I'm not ready to make any major changes to my recipe specs. What are some simple changes I can make to create healthier, lighter menu items?
A: There are plenty of small tricks you can use to lighten up your menu! Here is a handful, from my kitchen to yours:
Cut back on the amount of butter/oil.
Grate or slice cheese to cover more area while using less product.
Limit higher-fat items (i.e. meats) and fill with vegetables.
Try to saute with broths or juices.
The great thing about some of these tricks is that they will not only help cut back on calories and fat, but also potentially cut food costs.
-Alyson Mar, RD
Have a question for a member of the FoodCalc team? Submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FoodCalc weighs in
"It’s kind of a lot for the restaurant/hospitality industry to handle; not all servers and line cooks have a vast knowledge of what foods contain gluten, or what a food allergy even is."
-Alyson Mar, RD, Director of Nutrition
Dining By Numbers