Everywhere you look, more and more people are going plant forward. They’re enriching their diet with fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, lentils and seeds—putting more plants on their plate, while reducing the amount of meat they eat.
Aramark (NYSE: ARMK), the largest U.S.-based food services provider, and the American Heart Association (AHA), the nation's largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke, are working together to improve the health of Americans 20% by 2020, through healthy menu and recipe innovation and health awareness and education programs.
Recent survey findings of Aramark consumers found that more than 60 percent of respondents believe that vegan, vegetarian and plant forward (vegetables-as-center-of-the-plate, with smaller portions of meat) options are important. The vast majority of those consumers also believe these options are better for their health and the environment.
Currently, as part of its Healthy for Life 20 By 20 commitment with the AHA, 30 percent of the main dishes Aramark serves across its dining operations in Healthcare, Higher Education and Business Dining are vegan or vegetarian. Aramark has also partnered with The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to conduct plant-based culinary trainings for its chefs, to enable them to create innovative recipes that center on foods including vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
Aramark tapped into its network of more than 1,000+ chefs, who are responsible for serving nearly two billion meals each year, and the AHA leveraged its national network of experts, to create a list of proven summer tips that pack a plant forward punch.
“Summer is the perfect season to start incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet,” said Dan Wainfan, Aramark’s health and wellness lead. “Our dietitians and chefs have collected their favorite tips and tricks to help put a new twist on summer favorites, and offer a fresh and healthy way to enjoy the best of the season.”
“Many people find it’s easier to add color to their meals this time of year thanks to the abundance of fruits and vegetables in our stores and gardens,” said Jo Ann Carson, Ph.D., R.D., chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee. “We all have our go-to summer dishes, but challenge yourself to experiment with new flavor combinations or cooking techniques. You might just find a new seasonal favorite.”
FIRE UP THE GRILL: Summer is the time to fire up the grill and savor the flavors of the season. Discover some of our favorite veggie options, perfect for the grill.
• Eggplant: Brush eggplant slices with olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of garlic salt. Grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Top with a little grated parmesan, or a few crumbles of feta, and serve.
• Mushroom Skewers: Marinate cut Portabello mushroom pieces with sliced cherry tomatoes in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or combine mushrooms, peppers and onions in garlic, lemon and oregano, then skewer and grill until tender.
• Peppers: Grill red, green, orange and yellow pepper slices, tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and serve as a tasty side dish or sandwich topping.
MAKE THE FLIP: Going plant-forward doesn’t mean giving up burgers at a barbecue. Enjoy these new takes on a cookout staple.
• Falafel Burger: Top a falafel patty with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and tzatziki, and serve on a toasted roll.
• Guacamole Black Bean Burger: Top a black bean burger with jalapeno guacamole, crunchy baked tortilla strips, tomato, lettuce and chipotle mayo, and serve on a toasted roll.
• Grilled Portobello Sandwich: Top grilled Portobello mushrooms with barbequed onions, lettuce and tomato, and serve on whole wheat roll.
TAP INTO THE FLAVORS OF SUMMER: This summer, bring some extra excitement and a boost of flavor to your favorite foods with these fresh and healthy ideas.
• Summer Herbs: Fresh herbs straight from the garden, or a local market, add an extra pop of color and flavor to summer meals.
• Dilled Grilled Veggies: Add a little fresh dill to olive oil and coat your favorite veggies. Grill and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime.
• Summer Spices: Spices can wake up grilled vegetables and fruits. From cumin to cardamom to coriander, spices are an easy way to spice up summer.
• Chili Grilled Corn: Grill corn on the cob until lightly blackened and kernels are slightly tender. Squeeze fresh lime over corn and sprinkle with a little chili powder and just a dash of salt.
• Summer Zest: Add fresh lemon or orange zest, mint leaves or fresh ginger root to brighten flavor and make dishes stand out.
• Mint Tea: Brew tea with a handful of fresh mint leaves. Refrigerate overnight and wake up to fresh mint iced tea. Try unsweetened or add a touch of sugar.
STAY COOL: Cooking a hot meal inside during the heat of summer is no fun. With the oven roasting and pots simmering, the kitchen can sometimes be a place to avoid during hot summer days. It’s possible to prepare delicious, healthy meals on the hottest days – just turn off the oven, shut off the stove, and follow these “stay cool” tips.
• Cool Beans: Canned pinto, cannellini, black, baked, and red kidney beans are already cooked and ready to eat. Naturally low in saturated fat and high in fiber, beans are a main ingredient in summer delights, like classic three bean salad, made with red kidney, canned green and wax beans, or summer corn and black bean salad.
• Seasonal Melons and Berries: Hydrate with cool, sweet and fiber-filled fruit. Blend smoothies made from seasonal summer strawberries, raspberries and blueberries or fresh honeydew, cantaloupe and watermelon. Chilled fresh fruit is a great way to stay cool.
• Cool Soups: Gazpachos made from seasonal fruits or veggies in the blender are cool, healthy and easy. Blend tomatoes, tomato juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil – or purée cantaloupe and top with pineapple and strawberry chunks.
KEEP FRUITS & VEGETABLES FRESHER LONGER: It happens to everyone; you buy fresh produce and stick it in the refrigerator, only to find it a few weeks later, looking shriveled and rotten. These storage tips from AHA’s Healthy For Good™ will help keep summer fruit and veggies fresher longer.
• Berries: Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are delicate and should not be washed until ready to eat. Keep in refrigerator in dry, covered containers.
• Melons: Store cantaloupe and honeydew loose in the refrigerator, even before they’re cut. Watermelon can be kept in a dark, dry place away from other produce. Keep cut melon in the fridge.
• Tomatoes: Always store at room temperature as the refrigerator will make them rot quickly. Keep loose in a bowl away from sun or heat (like the stove.)
• Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.
A HEALTHY SUMMER GRILL EXPERIENCE: Cooking outdoors is a summer tradition. While great taste is at the top of everyone’s list, safety is just as important. Keep these tips in mind, to make the most of summer entertaining.
• Using the right tools: For a safe outdoor grilling experience, be careful when wearing long or lose fitting clothing or aprons around the grill. Use flame retardant mitts, buy grill utensils with long handles and never leave a hot grill unattended. Remember that cooking technique, grill utensils and even clothing choices can impact your personal safety.
• Transporting food: Keeping cold food cold is key, so pack food with ice or frozen packs, in a closed cooler, when traveling. Cold food should be stored at 41°F (5°C) or below.
• Serving: Cold food should not sit out for longer than two hours (or only one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F (32°C)). Make sure to wrap hot foods well in an insulated container until serving. Hot food should be kept hot at 140°F (60°C) or above. Hot foods should not sit out for more than two hours.
Note: Since everyone’s health history and nutritional needs are so different, please make sure that you talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to get advice about the diet and exercise plan that‘s right for you.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
May 18, 2018 - Our dietitians and chefs have collected their favorite tips and tricks to help put a new twist on summer favorites, and offer a fresh and healthy way to enjoy the best of the season.
We are working together with the American Heart Association to improve the health of Americans 20% by 2020 by empowering people to make healthy food, nutrition and lifestyle choices.