Rethinking cereals as a dessert complement

cereals as dessertA challenge for you: close your eyes and try to picture what the title of this article implies in terms of all the possibilities at your fingertips where one can incorporate traditional breakfast cereals as a part of a restaurant’s dessert offerings.

As dietary trends change and people choose healthier options, hoteliers must note these shifts as our F&B operations must work to satisfy a wide array of personal tastes. Specifically, with the mounting evidence that excessive eating of grains – particularly those that are highly processed – can lead to obesity and a myriad of other related diseases, the consumption of these mainstays may be on the verge of a dramatic decline. While current statistics may not reveal any precipitous drop in cereal consumption, the eating habits of millennials and centennials support the fact that what was once a foundation of the morning meal has evolved into an evening or nighttime snack.

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For background, the words ‘grain’ and ‘cereal’ are quite generic, encompassing everything from the low glycemic and in vogue crops of quinoa, bulgur and amaranth to all manner of wheat, rice and maize products. Particularly for our purposes, ‘cereal’ in this case refers to what you would encounter in the similarly named aisle of the grocery store – all the versicolor branded cardboard boxes targeting kids as well as the multigrain oats or muesli varieties.

Most of us are adapting our ‘no carb’ diets in smaller ways – not touching the perfunctory bread basket before dinner, switching from pasta to a salad bowl for lunch or moving away from cereals for breakfast. Focusing on this third example, there’s an interesting fallout effect whereby these sugary morning foods are finding new life as an ingredient in an indulgent dessert.

While the rolled oats, chia seed and bran products are still deemed healthy and a good source of fiber, most of the more conventional cereals containing more than a reasonable dollop of refined sugar are under intense scrutiny (as are almost all other foods with proven links to type 2 diabetes). As such, the consensus is shifting whereby they are no longer seen as part of a balanced breakfast. While this could indicate that this whole class of foods is destined for the scrapheap, formative chefs are instead playing upon their glucose-rich compositions to craft some very inventive sweets.

Bringing this trend to your attention means that you can evolve your foodservice operations in two potential directions. Firstly, knowing that the demand for these heavily ‘frosted’ cereals is waning, introducing healthier options for the breakfast buffet and for the a la carte menu will increase meal satisfaction which in turn will reflect positively on your hotel.

On the other hand, though, this movement towards indulgency and a ‘cheat day’ culture gives you the chance to have some fun! The word ‘crunch’ is often proscribed to these foods and that textural quality of dry cereals works delightfully well when mixed into a smoother, chewier dessert, helping you put a new spin on just about any sweet your pastry chefs choose to create.

As a hotelier, you must constantly strive to be a culinary leader as a means of boosting your property’s prestige and drawing in the locals. Hence, this trend is yet another opportunity for you to differentiate your restaurants and give any visitor something exciting or novel to try.

No doubt there are many examples from all around the world that you can draw upon for inspiration, but your first stop would be your own inner kid. The kid in you loves cereal and if you can harness this passion into a new slate of wild and crazy desserts then it will rub off on your patrons.

Ultimately, this trend serves as yet another possible way for you to distinguish your dessert selection. Challenge your team to reinvent what your restaurant offers and your customers will reward such innovation with their wallets!

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