Ride on the popularity wave of healthy foods and develop a menu for your corporate clientele that is proven to boost brain power. Nigel Kennedy, director Appetite Direct, shares his top trends on foods that fuel the body and the mind.
As a caterer that specialises in providing outstanding hospitality to corporate clients for conferences and events we understand fully the importance of attention to detail. Conference organisers want to deliver not only a seamless event for delegates but also ensure that expectations for the hospitality provision are met and surpassed. One of the areas we often get asked about and that we have been focussing on is the concept of providing ‘food for thought’ menus based on the premise that the right foods can not only fuel the body, but the mind as well. There are a number of acknowledged ‘brain foods’ and some less well known ones and while it is difficult to judge whether one conference lunch menu can really make a difference to the mental agility of the delegates, I don’t think anyone would disagree that healthy ingredients, prepared well and presented beautifully will not only make the guests satisfied and comfortable, but help towards the overall success of the event.
It would be impossible to list every ingredient with a claim to help brain power here but I have listed some of these and their benefits below. Obviously the way these are prepped by our chefs and served make a big difference to the effectiveness of the active components. There are also some simple rules which should be adhered to make sure that delegates are on tip top form throughout the day.
Start the day right
First of all – not too much sugar or caffeine. The last thing you want is for your guests to combine a sugar spike and crash with eight cups of coffee (although coffee is also high in antioxidants). Breakfast should have healthy options including fruits and slow burning carbohydrates, a Bircher Muesli, is a great way of getting those high antioxidant fruits and slow burning carbs in. Decaf coffee and a good selection of herbal teas should help to keep the caffeine consumption reasonable. Juices should contain as much fruit pulp as possible, or a yoghurt based smoothie works well too.
Still offer a chocolate fix
There is nothing wrong with a bit of dark chocolate (so long as it’s high in cacao content and low in sugar). Dark chocolate, beetroot and blueberry muffins are a good mid-morning snack with coffee. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and also releases endorphins or perhaps offer a nut, seed and honey flapjack. Fresh fruit like bananas are also good for slow release carbs to keep everyone going till lunchtime.
Healthy cakes do exist
Lunch and gala dinners can utilise loads of different ingredients but things like oily fish like mackerel or salmon are high in omega three. Vegetables like, broccoli, kale cabbage and cauliflower are high in vitamin k and contain sulforaphane which has anti-ageing and, some claim, anticancer properties. Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant and cucumbers have loads of electrolytes and flavonoids. Carrots have beta carotene, potassium and vitamin K and can be used as a vegetable but also in cakes and desserts. Pulses have folates, vitamins, minerals and are another slow release carbohydrate and cheese should make the list not only because everybody loves cheese but it also provides the body with essential amino acids.
Whatever you do with these ingredients, the emphasis should be on fresh, local seasonal ingredients, handled with the respect they deserve. Lots of healthy tasty options should ensure that delegates can focus maximum brain power throughout the event.