Trend Spotlight

Vegetable Focused Menus Provide Nutrition and Flavor that College Students Crave

Volume 1, Issue 4 | October 2017

Colleges and universities across the nation are catering to student demand for more vegetable-forward menu offerings.

Surprise surprise, college students WILL eat their vegetables! More and more students are looking to vegetable-centric dishes for nutrition, flavor, and to cater to dietary restrictions. But how do dining hall operators provide more vegetable-forward menu items without leaving students hungry? Enter U.S.-grown rice, the canvas for healthy eating, offering flavor versatility, excellent plate coverage, and long-lasting energy to keep students full all day.

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U.S.-grown rice is the perfect foundation for vegetable-forward menus because it is a natural flavor carrier, providing versatility across meal parts and cuisines. Brown, wild, red, and black rice add color and texture to dishes, along with a boost of whole-grain benefits like fiber, more than 15 vitamins and minerals, and beneficial antioxidants. Rice is also naturally gluten-free, making it an ideal grain option for students with gluten allergies or sensitivities.

U.S. rice delivers generous plate coverage at a low-cost, reducing your need for expensive center-of-the-plate proteins. Think rice bowls, paella, risotto and fried rice—all potentially low-cost, high-margin dishes.

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On the Menu

U.S.-grown rice makes plant-based eating easy because it pairs great with other healthy foods like vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, and soy. Plus, research suggests that eating rice increases satiety, that feeling of fullness, so adding rice to your vegetarian dishes will keep students satisfied and energized all day long.

Click here to learn more about how you can expand vegetable-centric offerings by incorporating U.S.-grown rice in your dining hall.

Menu Inspiration

These nutrient-packed and flavorful dishes are a great way to expand vegetarian and vegan offerings:

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Vegetarian Chili
Chunky vegetables and beans in a hearty chili featuring U.S.-grown brown rice… View recipe

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Tropical Wild Rice Medley Salad
This is a wonderful, refreshing summer salad. It looks spectacular in a clear glass serving bowl and is lovely served… View recipe

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Mediterranean Eggplant, Artichoke, & Feta Rice Salad
Flavorful and healthy vegetarian dish featuring U.S.-grown long grain white rice… View recipe

Learn more about U.S.-grown rice for foodservice today!

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Learn how to step up your whole grain intake with U.S.-grown rice.

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Did you know that are thousands of rice types grown around the world? Check out this quick guide to the 16 most popular grown in the U.S.

Meet the Farmer

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Every quarter we will highlight one of our American rice farmers and the legacy they are creating.

Buzzwords like “sustainability” and “conservation” may seem au courant to Madison Avenue marketers but for Jennifer James, a fourth-generation rice farmer from Arkansas, these concepts are nothing new. “Farmers are the first conservationists,” says James, “and sustainability has carried over in agriculture from generation to generation.”

At her family’s farm in Newport, Arkansas, Jennifer often taps the expertise available from rice research programs at the nearby University of Arkansas. She says, “We follow their recommendations about minimum levels of fertilizer and pesticides, which is better economically and environmentally. Another thing we do here is level our fields so they have very little slope. This helps conserve water. We also make an effort to recycle water with our tail water recovery system and this helps reduce energy costs.”

Whether it is management of natural resources or boosting yields to meet the demands of a hungry planet, research and technology play a key role in the future of farming. People like Jennifer will continue to move the process forward because they know innovation plus conservation is not simply a sales pitch but, for farmers, it’s a legacy.

Click here to learn more about U.S. rice farmers.

Industry Examples

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Vegan and vegetarian offerings are in demand across college campuses.

Last year, Canisius College launched Pitchforks, a vegan dining station featuring plant-based proteins and vegetable-focused dishes. The comfort-food menu features items like spicy kung pao cauliflower with rice, seared tofu banh mi, and sweet potato burgers with sliced avocado and shaved red onion.

In February, Middle Tennessee State University unveiled an all-vegan, made-to-order station that features stir-fry with the students’ choice of tofu, rice noodles and fresh vegetables. The university offers brochures at the station that share healthy eating habits for students.