By Rieva Lesonsky

This is a challenging time for restaurant owners. While some consumers are looking for bigger, gooier, fat-laden foods, others are demanding more nutritious and healthy menu items. The NRA (National Restaurant Association) recently addressed the nutrition challenge, offering a “Nutrition Trends on the Menu” session at its latest show.

We all know gluten-free foods are in high demand (we’ve discussed it often enough in the past). One restaurant owner explained how he turned to “ancient grains,” such as sorghum, amaranth and teff to make a gluten-free pizza crust.

Grains in general are enjoying new-found popularity, and the more the better. Multi-grain foods (bread, chips, oatmeal, muffins, pancakes etc.) are hot right now. And several of the show’s exhibitors were seeing great interest in products such as gluten-free baking mixes, whole-grain flour and hot cereal.

Another exhibitor mentioned the increased interest among the big restaurant chains (which means you small restaurant owners need to pay attention) in adding “healthy, vegan or vegetarian food [and other] meatless items” to their menus.

Apparently it’s all about “clean eating” (which was dubbed the “new buzzword”), which is “minimally processed and ingredient-centric.” That means increasing numbers of food makers and restaurant owners are trying to “cut the salt, and add more fruit and vegetables.”


Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+   and and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.