With summer produce coming into abundance, there’s no better time to leverage fresh fruits and vegetables while incorporating breakfast trends into the first meal of the day. Customers equate fresh with healthy, making it easy for foodservice operators and chefs to revitalize their healthy breakfast menus with the season’s freshest produce. For many consumers, health and convenience are key as they seek options for a quick and nutritious breakfast that fits their active, on-the-go lifestyles. Savory porridges, fresh takes on toast, seasonal breakfast bowls and beverages, and vegetable-centric plates are appearing in categories before noon, indicating the significance of the nutritious breakfast revolution.
Vegetables aren’t generally considered until afternoon; however, recently, consumers are digging into more vegetables in the morning hours. Vegetable-centric dishes are an easy solution for those who prefer to start their day on a savory and nutritious note. Classic egg dishes like frittatas can be made produce-forward with seasonal ingredients such as asparagus and artichokes with vegetable-packed sauces such as avocado hollandaise or simple vegetable purées. Eggs have shifted from being the main player of a composed dish to playing a secondary role. For example, leafy green salads topped with fried, poached, or soft-cooked eggs have exploded in growth during the morning meal. Utilize high-profit items such as smoked trout or smoked salmon and top a breakfast salad with quinoa, poached eggs, cucumbers, capers, and Greek yogurt dressing. Doing simple things to elevate fresh ingredients can have a significant impact on building your brand.
Draw inspiration from our breakfast salad recipe with Markon® lemony arugula, bacon lardons, New York Cheddar cheese, crispy shallots, and rustic toast with avocado spread. A thoughtfully crafted breakfast salad offers customers a satisfying meal while introducing next-level ingredients and capturing fresh and unique flavor profiles. Maines Produce can provide your restaurant with the fresh produce it needs to maximize your lighter breakfast fare.
Drinks for Breakfast
Beverages are the ultimate portable and convenient breakfast dish for customers on the go. Expanding your variety of fresh and seasonal breakfast beverages can make a significant impact on profitability – especially your takeout program. Cold-pressed juices have exploded on menus over the past few years and show no signs of stopping. An area of growth is the shot-sized juice, which taps into several trends: health, nutrient-dense snacks, and convenience. Use seasonal produce in concentrated doses and combine with on-trend ingredients such as honey and fresh ginger – these wonder ingredients have numerous functional properties that are attractive to health-conscious consumers such as lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and boosting the immune system. Another area of innovation is infused milks popularized by Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, who ushered in cereal milk as a culinary go-to ingredient from beverages to ice cream. Seasonal ingredients like sweet corn and spices such as turmeric are great for infusing milks, adding color, flavor, and intrigue to morning beverages.
Bowls Are Booming
According to Datassential, there has been a 17% increase in bowls making an appearance on menus over the past four years. Sixty-two percent of consumers are likely to try bowls at a restaurant, and 41% of consumers say bowls are innovative and adventurous. They also present an incredibly convenient meal option, offering a broad range of ingredients in one dish. Whether they boast grains, smoothies, or superfoods, bowls provide variety and customization – two huge selling points for busy customers, especially millennials.
As bowls continue to dominate breakfast (and other dayparts), the variety of ingredients that serve as a base has expanded tremendously. Grains are a popular base for bowls and also perfect for catering to vegetarians. Try serving a vegetarian-friendly farro bowl with grilled vegetables and an herbaceous kale-basil pesto topped with hemp seeds, avocado, and a hard-cooked egg. While eggs lend themselves well to bowl foods, don’t forget to incorporate options for vegan customers. Consider replacing eggs with tofu in a farro bowl with wild mushroom and tofu scramble, heirloom tomatoes, leeks, avocado, and hot sauce. Draw attention from all customers with hints of ethnic ingredients; sauté vegetables with miso paste and serve topped with tahini and sesame seeds. Superfoods such as acai, the bright tropical fruit from Central and South America, and chia seeds have become familiar ingredients in nutrient-dense smoothie bowls. Chia seeds can even help create the thick, substantial base when mixed with milk or yogurt. Chia seeds bring textural interest and nutrients to parfaits, smoothies, and bars or can be transformed into an almost dessert-like dish after being soaked in liquid.
Toasts of the Town
Avocado toast is ubiquitous and for good reason: It hits all the right notes that health-conscious guests are looking for. Who needs more than the unctuous texture of the avocado contrasted with the crunchy toast? The two are enough on their own, but smart chefs know that using innovative garnishes and toppings will set their toasts apart from the pack. This innovation has opened the door to more creative toasts that branch out beyond avocado. Some of the most popular toasts today are vegetable- or fruit-forward with a savory twist, such as mango with chili powder, lime juice, and salt or roasted strawberries with balsamic vinegar and ricotta.
Seafood is also finding its place on the breakfast menu. According to Datassential, the morning meal is fertile ground for seafood, with both fish and shellfish having grown by at least 40% over the past decade on breakfast menus. Seacuterie (seafood charcuterie) provides chefs exciting opportunities to showcase seafood offerings on toast – a platform that’s already incredibly appealing to diners. Enhance the classic pairing of lox and bagels by topping toast with pastrami-salmon (#069805 1/2.75#AV), heirloom tomatoes, capers, and cream cheese or a house-smoked trout spread.
Parfaits present another excellent foundation for lighter breakfasts that also offer a platform for customization. Allow diners to choose from a selection of fruit-infused yogurts, granola, fruits, nuts, and seeds, so they can create their own fresh concoctions. The key to parfaits is the attention to detail in every element. Yogurt gets a new lease on life with the addition of an acid such as citrus juice or freshness from herbs such as basil and parsley.
The desire for global cuisine has fueled the growth for savory porridges, which are appearing more often on breakfast menus across the country. Showcase seasonal produce in next-level porridges by adding house-made strawberry-chia jam and top with coconut whipped cream for added appeal. Nearly every culture has its own version of savory porridge, providing chefs a clean canvas for experimenting with adventurous, ethnic flavor profiles. Add Asian-inspired ingredients to create a savory porridge by adding soy sauce and maple-glazed bacon and a poached egg.
Bring It In-House
With competition heating up in the breakfast daypart, it’s essential to set your menu apart with signature house-made items that speak to your restaurant’s culinary philosophy, brand, and approach. These unique little touches can take an average plate to the next level. A seasonal and cost-effective way to add a signature element to your pancakes and waffles is to make your own fruit compote and sauces by utilizing seasonal fruit such as berries, cherries, and peaches. Fruit compotes are a great opportunity to flex your creative muscles with unexpected pairings that will entice and tempt adventurous diners, especially millennials.
Granola is not only a great way to add texture and flavor to parfaits and smoothie bowls, but also an opportunity to showcase your kitchen’s craftsmanship and innovation. It’s an easy-to-prep component that requires little extra labor but can have high impact. Nuts are versatile ingredients that help differentiate your granola with unique flavor accents. Alternative nut butters like cashew, almond, and pistachio can easily be made in-house, and will attract customers who demand products are as natural and clean as possible. Candied and toasted nuts are also easy to prep and have a huge payoff .
The idea of a healthy breakfast has evolved from the traditional meal of ordinary eggs and toast or a plain-old bowl of cereal. Today, while we still need to revere eggs and toast, it’s more about retooling the menu to address the needs of the nutritious breakfast revolution. A healthy breakfast can mean a hearty bowl featuring grains such as quinoa, millet or amaranth; chia pudding with coconut milk, fresh fruit, and toasted coconut; or cold-pressed green juices or smoothies. No matter what format breakfast takes, it should provide nutrition, convergence of flavor, and customization through vegetable-centric dishes, breakfast bowls, better-for-you beverages, new takes on toast and morning staples, as well as house-made items. Menu items that package these concepts and top it off with a fresh, seasonal halo will help restaurants maximize profits this summer.