Raw explained: Tips and tricks for offering raw dishes on your menu

April 8, 2011 | by Betsy Craig

So what do you feed diners who request a raw meal?

While salad is a staple of most raw diets, raw dishes can go far beyond that. It just takes some creativity, skill and know-how to whip out a fab raw dish. And a few select tools and recipes don’t hurt either. Here’s our quick guide to serving the needs of customers on the raw diet.

You can cook raw foods.  Just not that much.

So long as food remains under 116° F (the temp at which enzymes break down valuable nutrients in food), you have a little wiggle room with the warming trend. This allows for the use of dehydrators to cook and preserve food items.

Grains aren’t out of the picture.

A well rounded raw diet includes whole grains such as whole grain oats, rolled rye and cracked wheat. To prepare the grains, simply soak in water until the grains are a more palatable texture. Many raw food enthusiasts also enjoy sprouted grains, a multi-day process that involves rinsing and changing water in grains for several days until they sprout. Lastly, some raw foodists eat raw varieties of wild rice simply by soaking the rice overnight. However, this seems to be a mixed bag, as many find the texture a bit chewy for their taste.

Beans and legumes are ok too.

I’m sure you’re concerned about providing protein as part of a well rounded raw meal to customers, but don’t fret, beans and legumes can be included in raw meals, so long as they have not been cooked over 116°F. You can mold beans into a more palatable texture through the same soaking methods covered in grains.

Getting on the juice.

Any raw food purist is going to be a juice enthusiast. Offering blends of fruit and vegetable juices are great raw menu items, as most raw foodies love the nutrient pack of a big glass of fresh squeezed juice as a meal, or in compliments to another raw dish.

The food processor; raw food’s best friend.

Making use of every tool for your food processor will open up a world of possibilities for raw eating. By creating varying textures through slicing, dicing, chopping and shredding you can mold new taste and texture sensations that will excite and invite any palate. Try shredding beats and pairing them with an orange vinaigrette for a slaw variation that will have raw tastebuds singing!

As more Americans focus on including healthy, fresh vegetables and fruits in every meal, there is more and more interest in making those nutrient dense meals the meal in itself.

Offering a raw menu item or two at your restaurant will help you to best serve this growing demographic. Be sure to include full nutritional information on the menu for this group and all your menu items.

Photo from jules:stonesoup's under Creative Commons license.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Commentary , Food & Beverage , Health & Nutrition

Betsy Craig / Betsy Craig brings 20 years of food service industry experience to MenuTrinfo, LLC a menu nutritional labeling Company. Her commitment to the betterment of the food industry and her desire to affect the dining public are the driving forces behind her new company Kitchens with Confidence, LLC.
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