Chefs, operators challenged to reduce calories in popular dishes

July 22, 2013

As part of the global Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever Food Solutions is confronting the issues of sustainability, food waste and food safety and hopes to give the foodservice industry actionable involvement in creating solutions with its program, The Seductive Nutrition Challenge. It aims to help chefs satisfy guest demand for healthier choices and reduce calories on menus while still creating craveable, interesting dishes, according to a company press release.

In 2012, 5,000 operators joined the Seductive Nutrition Challenge, signing a pledge to reduce at least half of their popular dishes by 100 calories. With each pledge through Dec. 31, Unilever Food Solutions will help provide eight meals to Feeding America up to 50,000 meals.

"This is a great challenge to get involved in. Even having the ability to make one dish healthier will get you excited," said Keith R. Esbin, the corporate executive chef of Bar Harbor Seafood and Boston Lobster Feast in Orlando, Fla., who substituted Hellmann's Light Mayonnaise and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter in one of his dishes. In doing so, he reduced calories, as well as the amount of fat and saturated fat, creating a healthier, alternative New England Lobster Roll.

That excitement translated to changes in Esbin's own health habits; in the time since joining Seductive Nutrition, he's lost 30 pounds. Participating in the program also affected the way he looked at other dishes on the menu.

"I want to be a part of the Seductive Nutrition movement, so I did go back over every one of my dishes to see if I could swap out some healthier ingredients or create new dishes that were known to be fresher and lower in calories."

UFS reaches 2 million outlets worldwide, and UFS products are part of 100 million meals served every day.

"Our food industry in North America feeds millions of people daily," said Simon Marshall, president of Unilever Food Solutions North America. "With scale comes responsibility. Tackling big sustainability issues has to be a priority for the foodservice industry in North America, not because we say so, or because it's a nice thing to do, but because it's the only way we can continue to grow as an industry."

Read more about healthy menu options.

Topics: Health & Nutrition

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