Executive Chef Katie Cavuto explains how she ensures that delicious and nutritious food co-exist at Saladworks.
Katie Cavuto is the executive chef at New Jersey-based Saladworks. Provided
By Katie Cavuto, executive chef, Saladworks
Whole 30 and Keto may still be trending along with plant-based diets and sustainable food conversations, yet amidst all of the diet talk, new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics shows that 90% of Americans are not getting the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables per day for reasons including budget, accessibility, time constraints and food preferences.
And while the way we define healthy seems to be constantly evolving and changing, one thing remains the same, there are benefits found in a plate filled with whole foods, fruits and vegetables and we choose foods because they taste great! Historically our ideas around health food are not synonymous with bold, rich and crave-worthy flavors so you may find yourself asking, "Can delicious and nutritious co-exist? Can nourishing also mean satisfying?"
The answer is yes! As a dietitian and executive chef at Saladworks, I can assure you nourishing foods can and SHOULD taste great! A healthy diet doesn't have to feel depriving. All foods can fit on a healthy plate though this will look different for everyone. And while nutrition and health recommendations may not be one-size-fits-all, the importance of flavor is one principle we can all agree on because one way we can collectively encourage our guests to "Eat More Vegetables" is to season them well and prepare them in a way that makes them irresistible!
At Saladworks, our menu is built on these four foundations: freshness, flavor, nourishment and variety. We all strive to make our offerings accessible to everyone and we pride ourselves on keeping our price points reasonable.
With a full array of over 60 ingredients, we strive to provide guests with an abundance of fresh, flavorful and nourishing menu options as preferences vary between guests and more options mean more opportunities to inspire good choices. More than just sating an appetite, this allows guests to create a meal that also fuels their originality. From raw veggies to roasted and plant-based proteins like baked tofu and smoky chickpeas to our new Super Premium Carved Prime Rib and Roasted Shrimp Skewers we have options for almost every diet and lifestyle choice.
And while we've always believed in the benefits of offering an abundance of plant-based options, since long before it was trendy, we pride ourselves on the variety we provide our guests in our menu categories. In addition to our popular Create Your Own menu category, we also offer 12 unique Chef-inspired recipes all of which can be prepared with a base of greens, warm super grains or a combination of both. And, depending upon the desire of our guests, all of these menu items can be ordered as a salad, a warm grain bowl or a wrap more options to create their personal version of "healthy"!
As for the "all-foods-fit" and flavor-forward philosophy I mentioned earlier, we make it easy to create a plant-centric plate without sacrificing the satisfaction that comes from including more decadent ingredients like smoky bacon or your favorite cheese, we have six options. A little goes a long way with these ingredients and we include some of them in our Signature recipe builds as a gateway for guests to try and enjoy otherwise plant-forward menu items. We like to call this a "safe-adventure!"
Speaking of adventures, while Covid-culture may be keeping us at home, a rich food experience has the ability to transport us to faraway places. Our upcoming "Flavor Your World" campaign will allow our guests to taste new flavors and cultures without ever leaving their neighborhood. It's also a nod to yet another way "healthy" has evolved. Guests are looking to reinvent their idea of health food. They may know the health benefits of eating more vegetables and choosing lean proteins but they want us to transform these ingredients into "WOW!" experiences.
We agree, there is no need to sacrifice flavor for healthy and, with the addition of herbs and spices to create flavor profiles that span the world, we're actually adding health benefits. These ingredients have been praised for their medicinal properties since long before our time. A great example of delicious and nutritious co-existing is our Za'atar Roasted Cauliflower, which shines in our new Grilled Chicken Mediterranean Signature. We roast the cauliflower, along with several other vegetables for salad and warm grain bowl toppings because raw isn't for everyone the concentration of flavor adds appeal for many. Za'atar, a delicious blend of sumac, thyme and sesame seeds also has natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
We see guests becoming more educated on such benefits and therefore seeking meal options with the intention to nourish and care for themselves and their families. This is particularly prevalent with Millennial parents, which is why we created our Kids Works meals with the same principles as our broader menu. Freshness, flavor, nourishment and variety are also the foundation of our Create Your Own Salad and Build Your Own Meal Kids Works menu items where creativity reigns supreme and even our youngest guests can try new foods and create a healthy meal that is bursting with originality.
And the reality is, the pandemic has impacted everyone differently. Some people have more time to cook; others find themselves with less time, while even more face food insecurity. To help address the issues around health food accessibility we partnered with No Kid Hungry, which provides food to children in need. And every day, we make a Vow to "WOW!" it's our commitment to our guests that ensures they have access to a wide variety of fresh, flavorful and nourishing ingredients so they can customize their version of a healthy meal that is as original as they are.