Three Power Ingredients to add more Vegetables to Clients’ Meals

For most personal and private chefs, catering to clients’ schedules, tastes,  and preferences are central to a well run business.

But what if their preferences are detrimental to their own health?

National guidelines recommend that Americans get, at minimum, four to six cups of fruit and vegetables a day.

Just how well are Americans following these guidelines? Nearly half of Americans fall short, consuming a measly two cups a day, according to a CDC report.

But chefs need to make a living and prepare dishes that are palatable to the pickiest clients. Plating vegetables well and in innovative ways can help.

But consider this:dishes that hide both the appearance and flavor of vegetables. Even hesitant clients may find that these dishes are incredibly satisfying.

The three power ingredients you can use in recipes to boost nutrition and retain appearance and flavor.

 

Power Ingredient One:  Cauliflower

For years, this vegetable has been sidelined, mostly neglected to side dishes or as a minor player in other cuisines. But in recent years, cauliflower popularity has exploded , with headlines declaring it the “new kale” (a reference to the surge in kale consumption, especially among millennials).

The Hype: Cauliflower is inexpensive, versatile, and mild in flavor. On a nutritional levgel, it is rich in B Vitamins, as well as C and K and folate. It also supports the liver, cardiovascular system, and works as an anti-inflammatory.

Secret Chef Tricks: Because of its ability to be consumed raw or cooked, as well as its mild color and flavor,  cauliflower can be used in both savory and sweet dishes in unexpected ways. To make a pizza crust, grate raw cauliflower and steam it, then drain out the moisture. It’s surprisingly easy and delicious. Or try faux mashed potatoes for a lower-carb option.

Want a sweeter option? Cauliflower presents its true magic in cakes, like this lemon cake, pudding, and and even brownies.

 

Power Ingredient: Beans

Beans are usually associated with other cuisines; in Cuban cuisine, for instance, beans often offer a hearty alternative to meat.

Americans, though, often like beans sweet. Baked beans were adapted from an original Native American recipe that used maple syrup; settlers added bacon or ham and molasses.

The Hype: There are countless varieties of dry beans grown in the U.S., with pinto beans accounting for over forty percent of total yield. While pinto, navy, and garbanzo beans all vary some in nutrition, they do have similarities.  Apart from plentiful fiber and protein, beans are also rich in antioxidants, copper, folate, iron, and countless other vitamins and minerals. Evidence shows beans may even lead to healthier cholesterol levels.

Secret Chef Tricks: If you think you can’t disguise beans, the many ways they can be used may surprise you. Beans add texture and can act as stabilizers in recipes. Often they can be used to replace some or all of the flour in baked goods.

Black beans pair especially well with dark chocolate: there are recipes from brownies, chocolate cake, and even fudge.

Don’t have black beans? Varieties of white beans pair well with vanilla: white bean blondies, coffee cake, and lemon cannelloni cake are just just a few examples.

 

Power Ingredient: Pumpkin

Pumpkin may seem like the odd one out. After all, pumpkin pie is the second most popular pie, and pumpkin flavor has made its way into almost everything: pop tarts, cookies, and yes, the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte.  You could say we have a love affair with pumpkin, one the rest of the world, aside from maybe Canada, probably doesn’t understand.

But what about when pumpkin is not in the spotlight?

The Hype:

The beloved pumpkin (which is actually a fruit) is one of the best sources of carotene, a former is vitamin A essential for healthy vision and skin. The fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C in pumpkin help regulate blood pressure and support overall cardiovascular health.

Secret Chef Tricks: Pumpkin is no longer regulated to pumpkin pie, or even for pumpkin lovers. The natural moisture in pumpkin makes it an excellent fat replacer in baked goods. 130 calorie chocolate muffins,  fudge brownies, and light chocolate chip bananna bread are all excellent renditions.

Pumpkin adds an unexpected and subtle twist to savory options in mac & cheese, chicken risotto, and stew or chili.

 

Have a Mess? You did Something Wrong

For any of these secret ingredients, you’ll need to first work tried and true recipes before experimenting. Cauliflower, if not strained properly, can add unwanted moisture, while beans must be fully blended to avoid a grainy  texture.

 

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