Fat is your friend: Health and wellness menu trends

Fat is your friend: Health and wellness menu trends

February 17, 2014
4 min read

After reviewing 16,000 studies, the Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment recently ruled that a high-fat, low-carb diet would be best to combat conditions such as obesity, diabetes and improve heart health. Thus, foods such as butter, olive oil, heavy cream and bacon are not deemed as harmful. This position has taken many of those in the food/nutrition space by surprise, especially Americans and those who tend to favor a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet.

However, the committee’s thorough research will have many questioning whether or not they’re right, especially when diets low in fat have not steeped the tide of overweight and obese people. In fact, the committee found carbohydrates elevate sugar levels, increasing the likelihood of diabetes. Its findings also conclude that carbohydrates promote weight gain. As a result, the committee advocates a diet high in fat and low in carbs to be most effective in combating obesity, as reported in a December 1, 2013 article on www.examiner.com.

While it may take American medical and nutritional experts some time to agree with the Swedish committee’s findings, this news will spur American consumers to ask more questions about fats, carbs and calories in their diets, and to seek restaurant foods that fall in line with their beliefs. To this end, it would behoove operators to call out dishes high in fat or carbohydrates, so that consumers can more easily make choices they feel comfortable with when dining out.

In the meantime, the news comes at a good time for American consumers, as many comfort foods with high levels of fat are fashionable in the winter months.

The words cream or creamy convey that something is full of fat, which conjures up foods that taste rich, creamy, decadent, and filling. These descriptors are often found in sauces or dressings, which help to add moisture and flavor to a variety of foods. To this end, there are several LTO menu items that use these words in their descriptions:

• Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Roast Beef & Swiss Sandwich: Made with 4-oz. of Arby’s thinly sliced roast beef, Swiss cheese, pickles and a creamy Dijon sauce on a soft, slightly sweet and airy, irresistible KING’S HAWAIIAN® sandwich bun.
• Bertucci’s Spinach, Goat Cheese and Candied Walnut with Grilled Shrimp: Baby spinach, candied walnuts, sliced Granny Smith apples and goat cheese tossed in a creamy Parmesan peppercorn dressing. Substitute Grilled Chicken $11.99; substitute Grilled Salmon $13.99.
• Caribou Coffee’s Fa La Latte Creamy eggnog mixed with espresso, whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg.
• El Pollo Loco’s Shredded Beef Torta: Made with melted jack cheese, tasty pinto beans, cabbage, chipotle cream, hand-sliced avocados and hand-chopped pico de gallo.

Bacon continues to be a favorite and was a popular item in this month’s LTO Tracker. Some examples of its use include:
• A & W’s BBQ Bacon Crunch Burger: Piled high with hickory smoked bacon, crispy fried onions, American cheese and tangy BBQ sauce.
• Charley’s Grilled Subs Asiago Chicken Caesar Club: All-white meat chicken breast, grilled onions, zesty Asiago cheese, bacon, and then finish it all with our signature Caesar dressing.
• Cracker Barrel’s Pecan Sticky Bun French Toast Breakfast: Thick-sliced sourdough French toast with a hint of vanilla is baked in a skillet with a brown sugar and pecan sticky bun glaze before it’s flipped and finished on the plate with a drizzle of icing. Served with two Grade A eggs cooked any way and a choice of hickory-smoked thick-sliced bacon or sausage.
• Del Taco’s Epic Steak & Potato Burrito: With freshly-grilled carne asada steak, Del Taco’s famous Crinkle-Cut fries, chipotle sauce, bacon, freshly-grated Cheddar cheese and sour cream.
• Einstein Bros. Bagel’s Cranberry Turkey Panini: A fusion of traditional Thanksgiving flavors, featuring warm turkey, house-made cranberry sauce, double-whipped plain shmear, melted Swiss and mozzarella cheeses, fresh spinach and crisp bacon on grilled Ciabatta bread.

Julia Gallo-Torres
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