The word “immunity” has grown on menus by 37% in the last year, according to Chicago-based Datassential’s “New Foundations in Health” report. Fast-casual restaurant menus most commonly reference the term “immunity boosters,” and operators mainly use these ingredients in juices and bowls.
Concept Close-Up Fresh on the Fox University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Fresh on the Fox opened in May of 2021 at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wis. Run by Aladdin Campus Dining, this concept’s menu centers on fresh smoothies, juices, wraps, salads and other wellness-based items. Here, Carese Walczyk, wellness dietitian with Aladdin Campus Dining, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, discusses the whole-foods approach.
Q: What main ingredients does the menu center on?
A: When looking at immunity, there are a number of items to incorporate. We use unsweetened acai puree, blueberries, strawberries and other foods with dark rich colors. Also, we incorporate foods with vitamins C and E, like spinach, kiwi, lemon, orange juice, avocados, beets, mango and carrots. For gut health, there are foods with probiotics, like Greek yogurt. We offer many smoothies that include ginger, turmeric and honey for these ingredients’ anti-inflammatory properties that help boost the immune system.
Q: What equipment is integral?
A: The two things we rely on the most are blenders and juicers, and that’s what most products come out of. We blend everything together to hide some ingredients, like spinach. We also have cold wells for fresh ingredients, which are prepped ahead of time and ready to go. Perishable immunity-boosting ingredients are stored in a large double-door refrigerator or, if frozen, in a single-door freezer. We hand-cut juicing ingredients, including cucumbers, beets and carrots, while other foods like bananas, strawberries and mangoes are purchased precut and frozen to keep labor costs down.
Q: What trends are you seeing with immunity-boosting ingredients?
A: Over the past five years, there has been a push for healthy, nourishing options, as people want to support their immunity with food. COVID pushed this to the forefront and made it a priority. People are interested in the process and ingredients and what that looks like. We use whole grains for gut health as well as dark veggies like peppers and kale. Students want beverages to taste light and fruity, so our recipes reflect that.
Top Immunity-Boosting Ingredients
The top ingredients most frequently paired with immunity claims on menus are:
- Ginger: 46%
- Lemon: 42%
- Juice: 35%
- Turmeric: 31%
- Orange: 31%
Boysenberry grew 141.2% on menus, making it among the fastest-growing ingredients on menus in the past year (the third quarter of 2020 versus the third quarter of 2021), according to Technomic’s “Ignite Menu” data. Currant was another fast-growing ingredient on menus at 128.7% growth.
Equipment and Supplies
- Common items operators use when incorporating immunity-boosting ingredients:
- Food processors
- Mortar and pestle
- Cold wells
- Cutting boards