Sponsored by Bush's Best
Everyone knows beans are packed with nutrition. It turns out that beans can also help foodservice operators overcome ingredient shortages, limit food waste and even develop social media-worthy menu items. Beans are versatile and can be incorporated into a nutritious breakfast, a fun snack, low food-cost lunch or dinner.
Foodservice establishments are emerging from the COVID-19 crisis with new challenges. Certain ingredients are now scarce or costly, and consumers are demanding nutritious, innovative foods. Beans can help. “Beans are a cost-efficient ingredient that operators can use in a multitude of innovative, globally inspired dishes,” says Ken Oakley, senior brand manager of foodservice for Bush’s Best.
Here are some ways to incorporate beans in innovative dishes that consumers will crave.
According to July 2021 research by Datassential, operators are facing shortages and increased prices on many supplies and ingredients. Beef is one of the top items that is constrained, and 56% of operators experienced increased prices, and 43% said they are substituting other ingredients for beef.
With a soft, yet meaty texture, beans make a perfect addition to beef dishes. “They can also be a nutrient-dense filler ingredient in menu offerings like burgers or meatloaf to save on food cost while adding a layer of permissible indulgence for the consumer,” Oakley says. For example, combine meat with Bush’s Best® Easy Entrées® Taco Fiesta Black Beans to add a zesty kick.
Not only are beans much more cost effective than any meat, but beans are also shelf stable, so there is little chance of food waste. Additionally, the Aquafaba, or reserved liquid, can be whipped up and made into a plant-based substitute for egg whites.
Mix up a smoothie
People are looking for nutrition through beverages. According to The Hartman Group’s Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements Report, 56% of adult consumers use beverage solutions to treat or prevent specific conditions. The top condition was hydration, followed by energy and immunity. Also according to the report, 33% of consumers currently drink smoothies, and 47% are interested in trying smoothies with functional ingredients.
“Consumers have been on the lookout for functional beverages for the last several years,” Oakley says. “In particular, Gen-Z individuals want to know that the beverage they are drinking is providing a benefit to the body. They’re also on the lookout for bold unique concepts that look good enough to Instagram.”
Beans are loaded with protein and fiber and can add nutrition to smoothies. They also add a viscous element for that satisfying, thick smoothie texture. Variety is important too, as consumers might tire of the usual fruit smoothies. For a dessert spin with a slightly spicy kick, make a Sweet Heat Better Brownie Smoothie using Bush’s Best® Easy Entrées® Texas Ranchero® Pinto Beans. Or add a fun surprise element, using beans instead of tapioca pearls, or boba, in a smoothie. Don’t forget the whipped aquafaba garnish for an elegant finish.
According to Eating and Drinking During the Pandemic, a report by the International Food Information Council (IFIC), 36% of consumers said they are snacking more, and 30% reported eating healthier snacks or snacking on fruits and vegetables more often than before.
One great snack is hummus, which also fills consumer demand for gluten-free, plant-based and convenient grab-and-go foods. For a different color, texture or presentation, use anything from silky smooth white beans to pinto beans instead of legacy chickpeas. Bold flavors can easily be incorporated for global flair such as with mango chutney and Jamaican jerk seasoning for a Caribbean-style dip, harissa for a North African-inspired hummus, or mango-papaya chutney for a South Asian twist. Black beans and chilis are a good bet for a Tex-Mex iteration, and for a nod to the contemporary Cal-Mex style—mash an avocado into the mix.
In a further proof of versatility, hummus can be adapted to other menu items. Package it up in a protein snack box, include as an ingredient in a sandwich or wrap, or as a topper for a grain bowl.
Versatile beans can help operators adapt recipes to achieve lower food costs and less waste. Beans are also nutritious and colorful, so they appeal to a wide audience of consumers looking for a fun, healthful, social media post-worthy menu item. “From aquafaba to garbanzo bean boba, the opportunity for these bold, unique menu innovations is limitless,” Oakley says.