In the hospitality industry, staff responsible for menu planning must have a sound understanding of nutrition.
Where possible they should try to use healthy ingredients and cooking methods to provide meals with a high nutritional value.
Before looking at diets for particular groups it is important to know about cooking methods and how these impact on the quality of food produced.
The recommended cooking methods for a healthy diet are:
Steaming - where the food is cooked by the steam from boiling water so it is not placed in the water but in a steamer – green vegetables that are steamed have a higher vitamin content than those that are boiled because the water soluble vitamins are not dissolved into the water and lost. Fat is not added when steaming so this is a no fat method.
Poaching – fish, eggs and fruit can be poached in a minimal amount of water and no fat is added
Boiling – a moist method of cooking in boiling/simmering water used for root vegetables that are low in water soluble vitamins so the nutritional value is not affected by cooking
Braising – a method of slowcooking meat with a little liquid in the oven - lower in fat and preserves water soluble vitamins in the cooking liquid
Stewing – a slow method of cooking meat and vegetables in a small amount of liquid on the hob. Low in fat
Baking – cooking in the oven without adding fat e.g. baked potato in it’s jacket, baking cakes
Stir frying – vegetables, meat, fish and chicken are cut into strips and cooked quickly in a little oil
Roasting – cooking meat and vegetables in the oven using a little fat to brush over them to add colour as the food cooks and prevents it drying out
Grilling – a fast method of cooking meat under a hot grill (salamander), the fat drains away as it melts
Frying – cooking of food in a hot pan, usually in a shallow amount of hot oil or fat
Both shallow and deep fat frying increase the fat content of food. According to healthy eating guidelines they should be avoided.
In order to meet the needs of customers, a chef in any hospitality outlet must be aware of the different dietary requirements they may have.