Health on a platter

Health on a platter

Health on a platter

A few years ago, health-conscious people used to dread the idea of dining out. First, to avoid giving out a series of instructions to chefs to modify their meal, and second, to escape mirth from a circle of friends and relatives on making such healthy choices. Food, after all, is a way to celebrate in our society. But this perception is slowly weaning away with people making healthy lifestyle choices. And watching this shift from close quarters is the hospitality industry that has started incorporating healthy meal options in their menus to cater to this niche, but growing community.

“With immense travelling and a higher level of exposure and awareness, one is always watching out what they are eating. This not only applies to people who are strictly on diet, but also to regular clients who are on the lookout for healthier alternatives. The shift is definitely towards de-stressing and balancing high stress jobs through food, and adopting healthy workout schedules,” says Prem K Pogakula, executive sous chef, The Imperial.

The hotel has recently started salad, main course and dessert choices in their lunch buffet at restaurant 1911 and ‘detox lemon, cucumber and mint water’ for breakfast, with some other selections on rotation. “Erratic eating habits are the order of the day, so we thought of clearing the effect of this unhealthy lifestyle with detox ingredients which are high on iron, calcium and fibre,” he adds.

This health consciousness drive has led to a change in consumption patterns which has accelerated the growth of the health and wellness industry in India. It is only after regular requests from customers that Smoke House Deli recently launched their ‘Super Healthy Food’ menu in which they are using indigenous grains like millets, jowar and brown rice flakes to dish out healthy, pocket-friendly food.

“The idea behind using these grains was to not make food items expensive by using expensive grains like quinoa which we import. We want people to eat this meal every day, so the economics of the menu had to be kept in mind,” says Shamsal Wahid, brand chef, Smoke House Deli.

At the same time, what is challenging for these chefs is to make this food tasty so that the common misconception ‘healthy food can’t taste good’ can be cleared. “When we talk about healthy food, it’s very challenging to satisfy all the taste buds according to everyone’s liking. Sometimes it’s better to compromise on flavour over a good healthy meal, but we can always work around to make it delicious,”  says Pogakula.

“The method of cooking and choice of healthy ingredients play a major role in turning a sad, nutritious food into a tasty meal which is good for your mind, body and soul,” he adds.

But this trend has also resulted in misrepresentation of the term healthy, says Karan Thakur, executive sous chef, The Westin Group, “There is a lot of misbranding in the market. Everything can be superfood, considering how everything comes together in a dish. The products available in the market that are being sold as ‘healthy’ are unhealthy to me because they have a greater salt content.”

To avoid such ambiguities and ensure what finally comes on the platter is not only nutritious and healthy, The Westin Group has collaborated with SuperFoodsRx, an international firm comprising doctors, nutritionists and scientists, who have curated SuperFood menu using items like broccoli, cranberries, avocado and pomegranate to cater to guests. “We work around these ingredients, even dark chocolates, to create a menu which is high on health and great in taste,” he says.    
Shilpa Raina

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