Maple Leaf Foodservice

Canadians Want More Natural Foods

Almost 60 percent of Canadians say they are making an effort to change their eating habits. Leaning towards more natural foods, we’re committed to eating less sugar, salt and fat, and are focusing more on fruit, vegetables, grains and lean protein. That’s good news for our long-term health.

If you’re in charge of choosing recipes in hospitals, cafeterias, retirement or long-term care settings, it’s vital to know what Canadians are looking for. The easiest way to support the goal towards healthy eating is to pick recipes with whole, minimally processed ingredients rather than ultra-processed products.

Processed, packaged?

In a recent survey of Canadian adults, over 60 percent said they are looking for products that are free of additives, preservatives, pesticides and hormones. Interestingly, when compared to younger Canadians, older adults are more likely to say that it’s important for their foods to be locally produced, free of additives, and to come from a known brand.

When planning menus, the ingredients you use in the recipes matter a lot. Canadian-produced foods with no additives is something to boast about on your menu! But how can you decide if an ingredient is really “natural?” Health Canada says natural foods should not to contain artificial flavouring or food additives, and “cannot have been submitted to processes that have significantly altered their original state.”

It may help you to divide ingredients up into these three categories, and choose the natural whole and packaged ingredients instead of ultra-processed ones.

  • Whole foods: These ingredients are close to nature and have not been highly altered when you cook with them. Examples are vegetables, fruit, dry beans, whole grains, meat, fish and poultry.
  • Packaged foods: Not all foods that come in boxes or bags are the same. A food in a package – such as pulled meats, whole grain pasta, plain yogurt or frozen peas — is not the same as an ultra-processed food. These ready-to-use ingredients are natural, nutritious and can expedite the cooking process.
  • Ultra-processed foods: These are the ones that Canadians are trying to avoid if they are looking for less salt, sugar and fat. These items are highly refined, which eliminates the once-valuable vitamins, minerals or fibre. Examples include condiments, chips, cookies, soda and seasoned grain mixes.

Change is happening

Food manufacturers are taking note of this natural food trend, and many are closely examining their added ingredients to streamline products and recipes.

Maple Leaf Foodservice is paying attention to what consumers want, and are proud to provide minimally-processed (“packaged”) proteins to long-term care, retirement homes and hospitals. The newest addition is the line of Pulled Meats, including Canadian farm-raised chicken, pork and beef. Perfect for use in hot and cold sandwiches, wraps, casseroles and salads, the gluten-free Pulled Meats are made from all-natural ingredients with no fillers or additives.

Clean ingredient lists are what customers are looking for! It’s nice to see Pulled Chicken that’s this simple: chicken, water, vinegar, salt, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, spice. Sounds just like something you’d make at home. It lends itself perfectly to this newly developed recipe for Asian Pulled Chicken Slaw. 

The new Pulled Beef also contains only eight simple ingredients. With 17 grams of protein and only 196 milligrams of sodium, it’s ideal for seniors. Try it in the new Pulled Beef Stroganoff recipe for a new twist on an old favourite.

If you are looking for a pork option that contains natural ingredients, check out the new Pulled Pork.  It’s ideal in a hot application, but don’t be limited to adding a barbeque sauce and serving it on a bun (although it is a delicious option!) To get inspired, check out all the creative recipes for this product and for your other favourite Maple Leaf products on our recipes page.

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