The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has cast a spotlight on healthcare food services, leading hospital kitchens to revamp their menus. According to News & Observer, some locations have opted to>get rid of their fryers altogether, while others may keep one or two. For those who will continue to offer fried dishes, consider pairing these items with sides of vegetables. It may be a difficult shift to complement fried chicken with a green, but if done correctly, it will not only be healthier, it can also be delicious.
Figure out what will go well with the main item
If the main dish is a saltier item, consider pairing its flavor with a sweeter vegetable dish. Corn, sweet potatoes, carrots, zucchini and other squashes are great starters. Rather than simply steaming, try quickly sautéing them and adding some fresh herbs. Patients may very well appreciate the fresh flavors.
Alternatively, a heartier sweet side dish can be achieved by further cooking the vegetables. Purées are easy to make and can be easy to add additional flavoring to. The strong taste of sweet potato can easily mask a bit of mashed cauliflower. This offers the same great taste with additional nutritional benefits.
Try offering greens that may not be as well-known, such as collard greens or bok choy, to make your kitchen stand out. Steamed collard greens is a popular dish in the South that slow cooks a ham hock along with the vegetable, giving the dish plenty of flavor. However, it is a very salty mixture and would not be a healthy option for patients. Consider using other ingredients with strong flavor, such as garlic, to complement the collard greens. Bok choy is quick and easy to make. Depending on how it’s cooked, it can offer a crunchy stalk, which could make meals more interesting.
Look beyond the ingredients and also consider taste
As hospital kitchens continue to reevaluate their food options and make strides toward healthier menus, it is important to remember that taste and presentation are equally important. Healthier options may not mean tastier options to patients. This is a wonderful opportunity for healthcare food staff to experiment with ingredients and dishes. For recipes that are a hit, consider making it public. This will promote employee confidence and allow patients to continue a healthy diet even after they leave the hospital.