Discover the Health Values and Uses of Dates

Dates: Healthful and Sweet Fruit

Dates: Sweet and Luscious Fruit

Dates – the dried yet succulent morsels of amber-brown deliciousness that, at the same time, are healthy and satisfy our craving for sweetness – are the fruit of a tree known as the date palm. Dates are among the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, first thriving in the Middle East and now grown all over the globe. There are over 2,000 varieties of dates, but the medjool date is the most common type of dates grown in the United States.

Dates: Background

The name “date” is derived from the Greek word daktylos, which means finger, probably because dates are more or less shaped like the fingers of the hand. In the Middle East and Northern Africa, dates have been grown for thousands of years as a profitable agricultural product. (The date palm is the national symbol of both Israel and Saudi Arabia.) Date palms are found in abundance in the desert (one of the few crops that grow in such arid, hot, and challenging conditions) and many parts of the Middle East would be uninhabitable were it not for this type of tree.

 (…Read More…)

The Revival of the Nutrition-Packed Root Vegetable

Root Vegetables are Making a Comeback

The Root Vegetable Revival

Several factors are taking root vegetables out of the culinary (and metaphorical) cellar and onto plates everywhere. The trend among restaurants and caterers to use locally grown ingredients has spread to the home cook, as well, and many people are shopping in farmers’ markets for the freshest produce possible. And, as people make the shift from a supermarket state of mind to a local-market mentality, the root vegetable is making a comeback.

Nutritious, Delicious Root Vegetables

Root vegetables, particularly potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes, have long been considered staples, albeit neither glamorous nor exciting. Now, however, retro is in and the lowly root vegetable has gone from staid and boring to hip and trendy. Root vegetables are literally the roots of a plant. Some root vegetables — carrots, radishes, beets and sweet potatoes — are familiar to just about everyone, while others, such as parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi, celery root, Jerusalem artichokes, and ginger, are a bit more esoteric.

Strictly speaking, a root vegetable is the underground, edible portion of a plant. Botanists make distinctions between “true roots” and “tuberous roots” and other non-roots that grow below ground such as “tubers” and “rhizomes” and “bulbs.” The root is one of six parts of a plant: the root, the stem, the leaves, the flowers, the fruits and the seeds. Plants anchor themselves into the ground with their roots, drawing moisture and nutrients through the roots into the above-ground stems and leaves. Many of these roots are inedible; however, root vegetables are the roots of certain plants that swell up to form an edible root.

 (…Read More…)

Endless Uses for the Many Varieties of Mushrooms

Mushrooms: The Fungi That is Loved Around the World

Mushrooms: The King of Fungi

Although most people treat mushrooms as vegetables, they are part of the fungi family, which means they don’t need soil or light to grow. Mushrooms, unlike fruits and vegetables, do not contain chlorophyll and so they do not photosynthesize. Mushrooms are just one of the many species of fungi that exist; however, because there are so many different species, they have been given their own kingdom: the Kingdom of Fungi.

The History of Mushrooms

Although undocumented, there is a good chance that mushrooms have been eaten for as long as there are people inhabiting the Earth. Before mushrooms were cultivated, they grew wild, and our ancestors ate mushrooms that they found in fields and forests. Historians have seen wild mushrooms on the menus of the Romans, Aztecs, and Egyptians, who considered mushrooms to be the “food of the Gods.”

The shift from edible wild mushrooms to cultivated mushrooms began in the middle of the seventeenth century, when a French melon grower accidentally poured water, used to wash wild mushrooms, over some melons discarded in a field. He soon noticed that many mushrooms sprouted in the spot, launching the era of cultivated mushrooms. The mushroom was named the “champignon de Paris,” which has since become the most common and versatile mushroom in the world.

 (…Read More…)

An Amuse-Bouche is a Tasty Way to Welcome Guests to Your Home or Restaurant

Amuse-Bouche: Entertain Guests with a Bite-Sized Surprise

Amuse-Bouche: Current Culinary Phenomenon

In upscale restaurants around the world – and, nowadays, at home-cooked dinner parties – the amuse-bouche is having a moment. Once the mainstay of French chefs alone, these bite-size hors d’oeuvres aren’t just reserved for fancy restaurants anymore. These tiny bites served just before a meal are a clever way for chefs and amateur cooks alike to show off their skills, welcome their guests, and give a small peek into what is about to come.

Not Just for the French

Amuse-bouche (pronounced amuse boosh), means “to amuse the mouth” in French, and that is exactly what restaurant chefs and home cooks who serve these little bundles of culinary joy are setting out to do. The goal is to entertain guests with a beautiful, bite-size surprise that delights almost all the senses. Amuse-bouches are not to be confused with palate cleansers (also known as intermezzo) as these are served between courses, while amuse-bouches are classically offered before the meal begins to prepare guests for what comes next and to tantalize and stimulate the taste buds.

 (…Read More…)

Learn About the Meal-Kit Delivery Services Market

Find Out About Meal-Kit Options for the Busy Family

The Meal Kit Delivery Services Market

A meal kit is a subscription service that sends food ingredients and recipes to customers’ homes for them to prepare their own fresh meals according to the instructions. Services that send these kits are called meal delivery services. For on-the-go consumers – working parents and busy singles – with limited time at the end of the day, meal kits offer a reasonable and healthy alternative to take-out options and full home-cooked dinners. Delivered directly to households or bought at local grocery stores in prepacked portions, meal kits include pre-measured ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions, allowing customers to skip complicated and time-consuming meal preparation and to take a shorter, easier route to get their meals.

Meal Kit Stats

In the United States, the meal kit trend is booming. It is estimated that one in four adults has purchased a meal kit for delivery to a home or made an in-store purchase at least once in the last year, and 70% of those consumers continue to buy them after making their first purchase. With 60% of Americans opting for healthier diets to try to prevent sickness and disease, many consumers buy meal kits, which include fresh foods and easy-to-follow recipes, because they offer healthier and more nutritious options.

 (…Read More…)

Pulled Beef: A Slow-Cooked and Delicious Dinner Option

Pulled Beef Makes Any Meal a Party

Pulled Beef is the Current “Thing”

In restaurants and barbecue joints everywhere, pulled beef is having its moment. Also known as shredded beef, pulled beef is essentially slow-cooked meat, prepared over time in a mouth-watering sauce, which is then shredded into stringy deliciousness. Having pulled beef on hand means never having to wonder about tonight’s menu or how to feed a hungry crowd.

About Pulled Beef

Commonly referred to as shredded beef or pulled beef, this method of preparation involves slow and lengthy cooking of beef cuts to create individual strands of tender meat for various food dishes. A traditional way to prepare shredded beef is to cook the chuck or brisket cut of beef for a long period of time in a slow cooker or an oven in order to tenderize the meat and allow it to fall apart into narrow pieces of meat. After being cooked, the meat is then often mixed with seasoned sauces to be served on sandwich buns, in tacos or in burritos, over hummus, on a slider, or alone, as a main dish of tenderized beef.

 (…Read More…)

A Few Simple Steps to Lower Staff Turnover and Raise Revenues

High Restaurant Staff Turnover Can Affect Your Bottom Line

How to Reduce Restaurant Staff Turnover

Developing a loyal and devoted staff may seem like an afterthought, compared to everything else that running a successful restaurant entails. But even without realizing it, every time a staff member leaves, your bottom line is affected by the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training new workers. To prevent this type of drain on your profits, the trick is planning a long-term strategy for lowering your employee departure rate, while at the same time increasing the efficiency level of your business and its financial results.

High Turnover = Lower Revenue

According to restaurant statistics, the turnover rate for employees in the restaurant sector averages about 62.6%, compared to 42.2% in the overall private sector. Even more alarming, the cost of hiring an hourly employee can total more than $3,500 when you factor in the entire hiring process. In other words, staffing your restaurant is an investment, and, when part of that investment walks out the door, your bottom line will take a direct and debilitating hit.

Employees leave jobs every day for a variety of reasons. A restaurant is a high-stress environment that offers relatively lower pay rates; and together, these two factors can lead to employee burnout. However, with time and effort, this situation can be remedied.

 (…Read More…)

Follow These Steps to Increase Your Customer Retention Rate

Maintain Customer Loyalty by Paying Careful Attention to Details

How to Keep Loyal Customers

When you first opened your restaurant, your goal was to attract new customers – to get them through the door and have them try your food. But now that you’ve established a successful business, your goal should be to maintain your customer base or, conversely, to prevent customer interest from waning. Attracting new customers is important, but keeping loyal customers may be the most important goal of all.

Return Business is Vital

Return business is the meat and potatoes of the restaurant industry. Return customers provide your business with a regular income and they can be your best marketing tool. The results of a survey, conducted among a large number of fast-food restaurants, indicated that customer satisfaction drives higher returns than food or price. The chances that a customer will return increases from 20 percent, to more than 80 percent, when he or she leaves a restaurant satisfied and happy. In addition, a satisfied customer is more likely to recommend your restaurant to friends and relatives.

 (…Read More…)

Restaurant Tech Can Boost Your Restaurant Business

Using Restaurant Technology to Highlight Your Business

Restaurant Tech: A Must in Today’s World

Although you may have started your restaurant business in the days of paper menus, paper flyers, and newspaper ads, times have changed. Technology in the restaurant industry is rapidly becoming the new normal, and you could be missing out on many benefits if tech tools aren’t yet on your restaurant’s menu. According to Toast, 79 percent of restaurant-goers say that “restaurant technology improves their experience.” In addition, restaurant operators say using technology – for back-office purposes and for relating to the public – improves productivity, increases sales, and provides a competitive edge.

What is Restaurant Technology?

In today’s digital world, restaurants cannot afford to keep their service, accounting systems, and customer interface back in the last century. Back-office operations – the part of the business that customers generally don’t see, such as bookkeeping, staffing, and food-ordering – has left the pen and paper behind, allowing technology to take over. Streamlining operations through automation and by electronically connecting all facets of the back office has saved restaurants untold amounts of money, despite the initial investment.

Similarly, restaurants can no longer depend on word of mouth and print media to reach their target audience and bring in business. In the age of smartphones and tablets, any restaurant that doesn’t take advantage of the latest technology to interface with customers, is simply losing business with every day that passes.

 (…Read More…)

Learn How to Make the Solo Customer Comfortable in Your Restaurant

Increase Your Restaurant Sales by Welcoming the Solo Diner

Welcoming the Solo Diner

Eating alone is, for many people, an uncomfortable and awkward experience. Today, however, smart restaurateurs, with an eye on trends and demographics, are looking at the solo diner as an ever-increasing source of business.

Single diners – already ill at ease in a new restaurant – are sensitive to a number of things that a restaurant owner may not be aware of. These include factors like staff vocabulary, seating layout, and more. Making your restaurant more solo-friendly can both increase your business and secure your reputation as a forward-thinking, open-minded entrepreneur. With just a few minor changes and additions, your restaurant can make leaps in attracting and welcoming the savvy solo diner.

Solo Stats

According to Fortune, the percentage of Americans living by themselves has doubled since 1960; in addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that consumption by U.S. singles contributes close to $2 trillion to the economy annually. In the U.S. restaurant industry, reservations for one are on the rise: the number of solo diners has grown by 62 percent, making them the fastest-growing table party size. Put into financial terms, ignoring the particular needs of solo diners is tantamount to giving the cold shoulder to a big chunk of business. Instead, it’s time to figure out how to throw out the welcome mat.

Learn How to Talk to Solo Customers

 (…Read More…)