The Latest on Health & Wellness Trends 

In honor of National Nutrition Month, we’re focusing on health & wellness on the menu in this month’s trend focus. What are today’s guests looking for, and what will they order? We look at the data and talk to some experts to see how pasta can be part of the solution.  

Meeting the demand for healthier options on the menu and also selling them is a challenge as old as the industry itself. Guests say they want to make healthier choices, but rarely make them. According to Maeve Webster of Menu Matters, health-driven behaviors are strongest when there’s a “have it all” mentality. Hot tip: focus on the nutrients they want – like protein – and use descriptive words that play up the taste factor.  We found this tool from the researchers at Stanford to be both helpful and thought-provoking!   

“Younger consumers especially don’t want to sacrifice or give anything up in order to eat healthy. They’re telling us to make it easy for them to feel good about their choices; menu items they will enjoy, do right by the planet, and carry those cues that it’s good for them.” Maeve Webster, Menu Matters

This is backed up in other data sources as well, especially when it comes to plant-based offerings. According to Datassential’s 2023 “Plant-Forward Opportunity Report,” consumers are most likely to order more dishes that are inherently plant-forward or contain blended / hybrid protein options, rather than choosing highly-processed meat analogs.  

Honey-Roasted Squash & Barilla® Rigatoni by Chef Jess Bograd

Our take: Pasta can be an ideal vehicle for better-for-you options that retain the familiarity and appeal of a most-loved food. Use a foundation of better-for-you pasta like whole grain,  Protein+®, or chickpea — or just a regular semolina, it’s still a healthy choice. Load up on veggies and use smaller amounts of thoughtfully chosen animal proteins, if at all.  

Summer Vegetable Protein+® Cellentani by Chef Vanessa Mello

For more culinary tips and strategies, we asked some of our Chef friends to weigh in, and shared a few of our fave recipes.