Meeting and event attendees are becoming increasingly health conscious. Not only has there been a desire for vegetarian, vegan, paleo, and gluten free options but an overall appeal for more flavorful whole foods’ sans the salt. Healthy catering menus at meetings and events don’t have to be unappetizing or flavorless. Below we explore 10 flavorful yet health conscious catering ideas to inspire your next event menus that will also provide an Instagram able moment from your attendees.
1. Stir Fry Station
Make-your-own stations are always popular at events because attendees can customize their meal based on dietary concerns, allergies, and personal preferences. Offer a good selection of vegetables such as carrots, radishes, onions and low-fat meats such as chicken, pork or beef. Accompany the stir fry with low fat sauces such as chili or soy based and zoodles, ramen, or cauliflower rice. After all, who doesn’t love a bowl?
2. Taco Station
Another popular station that offers dietary flexibility are taco stations. Offer both chicken and beef and grilled vegetables and/or pineapple accompanied by black beans, lettuce, salsas, shredded cheese, yogurt based avocado ranch dressing, flour tortillas and baked tortilla chips. This gives attendees the flexibility of choosing what meets the individual’s needs … and making a salad instead of nachos or tacos.
3. Savory Skewers
Skewers are popular because they are quick and easy to serve and there is usually minimal mess or fuss for the guest eating them. The combinations you can have with these are endless and you can offer fully vegetarian or vegan skewers or combine healthy ingredients with meat or cheese that are bursting with flavor, and often have the flexibility of being served warm or cold.
4. Mini Charcuterie
“Charcuterie” refers to the preparing of cured meats, like prosciutto, bacon, salami, etc., but these days when people say charcuterie, they are usually referring to a fun, meat and cheese board that typically includes cured meats, a variety of cheeses, crackers, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and dipping sauces. To make it healthier, offer individual servings of lower salt meats and light cheeses, nuts and fruits accompanied by a tasty spread.
Soup isn’t just a starter - it can also be part of your conference menu. Avoid cream-based soups or serve accompanied with a finger sandwich. Choose a recipe bursting with flavor. Consider serving in recycled paper cups for convenience or clear plastic shooter glasses as a passed Hors d'oeuvres.
6. Fancy Salad Cups
Serve an attention-grabbing side salad in martini or low-ball glasses for a brightly colored treat, perfect for luncheons and evening events. Craft visually impactful yet tasty salads from an array of lettuces, fruits and seeds or nuts to shift the mindset that traditional healthy food is boring.
7. Substitute Starches
In lieu of heavy, often over or under cooked rice or noodles, offer cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles as a healthy alternative. Need a filled appetizer? Cucumbers are a great healthy alternative that can be filled with cheese, meats and more. Plus, they are crunchy which always make for interesting light bites.
8. Kale Chips
For a business meeting breakout replace regular chips or snack mixes with baked kale chips. Kale chips are a low energy density food, meaning that you can eat a lot of them without adding many calories to your diet. Plus, they will give attendees a salt fix without the waistline guilt. Kale when dried out properly has the same consistency of chips with a lot less calories.
Elect to serve a unique event mocktail, a iced drink made with any of various ingredients (such as juice, herbs, and soda water) but without alcohol. Try to make sure that you offer at least 2 or 3 appealing drink alternatives such as flavored sparkling water and bottled water in lieu of high calorie and sugar sodas.
10. Mini Fruit, Icecream or Dessert Parfaits
Instead of offering a plated heavy sugary piece of cake or pie, try serving a mini fruit, ice cream or dessert parfait. This will provide your attendees with just the right amount of sugar to fill their sweets craving. Mini desserts have fewer calories and the options of deconstructing your favorite classic dessert are endless.
Now you are ready to plan a catering menu to accommodate healthy choices, making just a few adjustments that will leave your attendees feeling satisfied but not stuffed. And with the proper presentation, your cuisine will look too good to miss!