Salt and Sugar Alternatives Our Hearts Will Love

In honor of February being American Heart Month, we’ve listed some healthy salt and sugar alternatives that our hearts will love. You’ll find a variety of ingredient substitutions that can be used in everyday cooking, baking, and cocktail crafting.

Salt Alternatives

With salt being added to so many prepared entrees and packaged meals, it’s no wonder America consumes too much of this mineral. While salt is beneficial to health in some ways, this overconsumption can unfortunately lead to high blood pressure, which can ultimately damage the arteries that lead to the heart. Years of eating too much salt and living with damaged arteries can lead to a heart attack. In order to prevent heart damage, it’s important to limit your amount of salt intake.

If you have to use salt in your recipes, then it’s best to use less refined options like sea salt, pink Himalayan sea salt, and molakai sea salt. However, if you’re looking for salt substitutes, so you can completely cut it out of your recipes, then check out some of the ingredients below:

  • Garlic, onions, and leeks - By incorporating ingredients like fresh garlic, chopped onions, and leeks to your stir frys, casseroles, soups, and pastas, you’ll add delicious flavor without the high sodium levels. Plus, these ingredients, and others from the Allium genus, are known to lower blood pressure and hinder tumor growth.
  • Spices - Spice up your dishes by adding pepper, oregano, basil, cumin, turmeric, and other seasonings. Not only do they add complementary flavor to your foods, but many of them are also known to boost metabolism and curb hunger or cravings.
  • Vinegar - Sometimes, if your dish is lacking a certain taste factor, a splash of vinegar will do the trick. Use fruit- or garlic-infused vinegars to marinade meats or make salad dressings without the added salt. It can also be added to pasta sauces and soups.
  • Nutritional yeast - This all-natural ingredient is used in a lot of vegan dishes. Unlike baking yeast, this nutritional version is deactivated, so it has no leavening ability. Thanks to its salty, somewhat cheesy flavor, it’s commonly sprinkled on popcorn, macaroni and cheese, pasta, and potatoes.

Sugar Alternatives

Almost everyone gets a sweet tooth now and then, and it’s totally okay to satisfy it. But, did you ever think about how many foods contain sugar that you wouldn’t even suspect? Potato chips, tomato soup, pasta sauces, salad dressings, “healthy” smoothies, and enriched waters are just a few of them. Just like salt, eating too much sugar can lead to health issues. Consuming too much sugar can cause insulin spikes, which can lead to inflammation of the arterial walls. Additionally, excess sugar intake can lead to weight gain, which can be the gateway to cardiovascular disease. In order to prevent heart damage, it’s important to limit your amount of sugar intake.

Sometimes, you simply have to use sugar in your recipes, especially in baked goods. If you do have to use sugar, then it’s best to use less refined options like brown sugar, molasses, muscavado sugar, honey, and agave nectar. However, if you’re looking for sugar substitutes, then try out some of the ingredients we listed below:

  • Applesauce - Try substituting unsweetened applesauce for sugar when baking. Simply replace 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of applesauce in your cakes, muffins, nut breads, and brownies. Plus, applesauce will make your baked goods moister. Be sure to also reduce the liquid called for in your recipes by about 1/4 cup.
  • Freshly-squeezed fruit juice - If you’re making sauces, marinades, salad dressings, or certain baked goods, consider adding freshly-squeezed juices instead of sugar or concentrates. Not only will these juices sweeten up your foods, but they’ll also give them a fresh, tropical flavor.
  • Lemon or other citrus zest - Squeezing a lemon, orange, or lime, or simply grating their zest is a good way to sweeten cocktails. Use the zest in martinis, old fashioneds, whiskey sours, and other mixed drinks. Also, squeezing some lemon into gin on the rocks is a great way to add a subtle sweetness without all the calories caused from sugar.
  • Nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice - Adding spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin spice to your coffee beverages will reduce its bitter taste and eliminate the need for added sugar. You can also use these spices in pancake, waffle, muffin, and other batters.
  • Raisins, figs, and dates -These naturally-sweetened dried fruits can substitute sugar on a 1:1 ratio in many baked goods. Simply soak them in hot water, add them to a blender, and puree them until they become a smooth paste.
  • Bananas - Like the fruit paste mentioned above, bananas can replace sugar on a 1:1 ratio. Simply combine one cup of mashed, overripe banana with a few tablespoons of water and puree until smooth.

By using some of these substitutions in your cooking, baking, and cocktail recipes, you’ll be able to make them healthier without sacrificing taste. Try making these substitutions in your restaurant’s recipes for the month of February, or create an all-natural section on your menu so guests can eat healthier year-round.

Posted in: Health & Wellness | By Ashley Kufera

Offering Valentine's Day Cooking Classes in Your Restaurant

Valentine’s Day is coming up and, as I’m sure you know, it’s a huge day in the restaurant industry. While many people choose to go out for dinner, many romantics stay at home and cook their own meals. One way to offer something a little extra to your customers and draw in some more business for the holiday is by offering cooking classes. Here are some things to think about when planning your Valentine’s Day cooking classes.

Throughout the Month

If your customers want to cook a delicious meal at home, they may want some pointers on how to cook your signature dishes. To help them out, you can offer cooking classes in the weeks leading up to the 14th. For this, you would need to consider the same things you would with regular cooking classes. Just make sure your guests know it’s only for a limited time!

Pros:

  • Gives more customers the opportunity to take your classes
  • Less competition
  • Extra business
  • Chance to sell your signature sauces, so customers can make your dishes at home

Cons:

  • More supplies and ingredients used
  • Harder to plan for
  • Have to set regular schedule of classes
  • Will deter some people from coming to your restaurant on Valentine’s Day

One Night Only

Another option is hosting a cooking class the night of Valentine’s Day. This would be a big event for couples or groups of people to attend. You could teach your guests how to make a delectable meal in your signature style and give them a memorable way to spend their Valentine’s Day. Then, they can enjoy the meals they helped create in your decorated dining room. This could be set up as a reservation-only or first-come-first-served event, so you can plan your night as precisely as you want.

Pros:

  • Only one night of planning
  • Can plan exactly how many supplies and ingredients you need
  • Offers an experience that you customers will remember
  • Can draw in new customers

Cons:

  • Can turn away other business
  • Extra decorations needed to get the right atmosphere
  • Need to advertise more to get the word out
  • More money up front

Hosting cooking classes for Valentine’s Day is sure to make your customers’ special days even better. Hosting classes ahead of time or offering a one-night-only event both have their pros and cons, so it’s all about what’s right for your business. Whatever you decide to do, I’m sure that your customers will love having the opportunity to get a peek behind the scenes of their favorite restaurant.

Posted in: Holidays | By Alyssa Burns

February 2016 WebstaurantStore Coupon Code Update

Savings Are In the Air!

Stock up on all the supplies your restaurant needs for Valentine's Day by taking advantage of this month's great deals! Besides the items below on sale with the FEBSALE coupon code, you will find many other items on sale with many other coupon codes if you sign up for our email flyers below. Signing up just takes a few seconds, and you can unsubscribe at any time. If you haven't already, be sure to check out our Instagram sweepstakes for your chance to win a Kitchenaid commercial immersion blender! Contest ends on February 8th, so get your submissions in!

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By Steven Ziegler

Replace Salmon and Tuna with these 5 "Trash" Fish Recipes

Everyone knows how to make meals out of shrimp, tuna, or swordfish, but what about the stuff fishermen catch that isn’t a popular type of seafood? Bycatch, or “trash fish,” is the name for these extras, and they’ve been showing up on menus recently as chefs around the country create delicious dishes from these previously unwanted fish species. Restaurants like The Refinery in Tampa, FL and the Momofuku Ssäm Bar in NYC have already jumped on board with some of their specials. If you think this sustainable practice is right for your business, here are a few recipes to get you started.

1. Pollock

Atlantic or European Pollock (not to be confused with Alaskan Pollock, which is a completely different fish) is often marketed as an alternative to cod due to its similar taste and texture. It’s been consumed all over the world in a multitude of ways, but due to its grayish coloring, it’s usually breaded in some way. This recipe for beer-battered fish and chips is a great lunchtime or dinner staple, especially when served with tartar sauce.

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2. Triggerfish

With a leathery outer skin that can be difficult to cut and a large head that takes up most of the body, triggerfish have been considered “trash” for years. They’re hard to clean, but totally worth it. With a meaty texture and a sweet, rich taste, they're amazing with capers, white wine, and lemon flavors. Triggerfish is sure to be your next go-to summertime dinner special.

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3. Lionfish

Lionfish are a carnivorous species with no natural predators, so their population tends to be higher than their habitat can handle. That makes for the perfect option for a sustainable, eco-friendly meal! Lionfish has a delicate flavor and a texture similar to grouper. This sandwich recipe combines a simple mixture of herbs, homemade caper cole slaw, and a cumin-lime creme fraiche for a light, zesty appetizer or lunch special.

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4. Sheepshead

Sheepshead, also known as convict fish, are easily recognizable by their large, human-like teeth, which are used for crushing shellfish, and the black stripes running down the side of its body. It can be difficult to clean, so it’s usually passed over. However, the meat inside is moist, firm, and sweet like shellfish. It also absorbs many of the flavors it's cooked with, making it a versatile ingredient. In this recipe, the fish is sauteed and paired with a white wine tomato sauce.

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5. Sea Robin

These bottom feeders no longer have to be bottom-of-the-barrel. Sea robins, or gurnards, have a firm, white meat that tends to hold together well. It’s popular in Europe in soups and stews, like the French bouillabaisse. This soup is simple fare that’s great with a slice of hearty bread in any style of restaurant.

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So, whether you want to serve up a classic fish and chips lunch or an elegant seafood dinner, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use sustainable seafood options. Popular fish like salmon, tuna, and grouper are being overfished, making them more endangered and more expensive. Bycatch is just as good, less expensive, and more sustainable, so the choice is easy. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s dinner.

Posted in: Green Products | By Alyssa Burns
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