KANSAS CITY — New Year’s resolutions are the main inspiration behind recent menu innovation. Restaurants are releasing new better-for-you offerings to help consumers jump-start their health and wellness goals, including low-carb, plant-based and protein-packed options.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. is rolling out Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice to all US and Canadian restaurants after testing the rice alternative last summer. Containing 4 net carbs per serving, the grain-free, keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian and Whole30 compliant offering stars in four new Lifestyle Bowls: the Whole30 Bowl, Keto Bowl, Vegetarian Salad Bowl and Vegan Bowl.

“Chipotle fans have been craving more plant-powered, better-for-you options that align with the latest health trends and emphasize the benefits of real food,” said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer for Chipotle. “That’s why we are thrilled to offer Cauliflower Rice nationally and help our fans achieve their diet or lifestyle goals.”

Also debuting a Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice is El Pollo Loco. The rice alternative is available in three Pollo Fit Bowls: the Double Protein Avocado Pollo Fit Bowl, the Double Protein Fajita Pollo Fit Bowl, and the Double Protein Mexican Caesar Pollo Fit Bowl.

“The last 10 months have had many of us sequestered at home, disrupting our routines and causing us to engage in less than ideal eating behaviors. Too many of us have replaced the gym for the couch with undesirable consequences.” — Bernard Acoca, El Pollo Loco

“The last 10 months have had many of us sequestered at home, disrupting our routines and causing us to engage in less than ideal eating behaviors,” said Bernard Acoca, president and chief executive officer of El Pollo Loco, Inc. “Too many of us have replaced the gym for the couch with undesirable consequences. Our new better-for-you Pollo Fit Bowls are the perfect way to help you get back to your best self in the new year. We are proud we are able to offer our customers organic ingredients and low-carb options like cauliflower rice that are simply not available at quick-service restaurants.”

Smoothie King is now serving the Metabolism Boost Banana Passion Fruit Smoothie, made with bananas, pear passion fruit juice, papaya juice and a protein blend including Gladiator Protein, Fiber Blend enhancer and Metabolism Boost enhancer.

“This has been a challenging year, and with so much going on it’s been easy for health and fitness goals to fall by the wayside,” said Rebecca Miller, chief marketing officer for Smoothie King. “We want to set our guests up for success in 2021 with a tasty addition to our Metabolism Boost line to help them achieve their New Year wellness goals.”

Fazoli’s is launching its Lifestyle Menu, featuring new Low-Carb Pepperoni & Bacon Flatbread and Gluten-Friendly Chicken Pesto Rotini.

“We consistently innovate our menu to meet the needs of our guests,” said Rick Petralia, director of culinary innovation at Fazoli’s. “We realize that consumer eating habits have evolved. Taking that into consideration, we’ve innovated our menu offerings and are introducing new dishes that not only taste incredible, but they address changing consumer needs.”

Dunkin’s new Southwest Veggie Power Breakfast Sandwich features a MorningStar Farms Black Bean Patty, an egg white omelet filled with spinach, bell peppers and onions, aged white cheddar cheese and a multigrain thin. The sandwich contains 410 calories, 26 grams of protein and 23 grams of whole grains.

“This sandwich is really exciting for MorningStar Farms because it delivers a veggie-centric option for Dunkin’ guests, giving them a great plant-based protein patty,” said Dara Schuster, senior director of marketing for plant-based protein at Kellogg. “The sandwich has a kick of heat from the MorningStar Farms Black Bean Patty, offering a flavorful breakfast sandwich that packs 26 grams of protein and celebrates real recognizable ingredients. Flexitarian eating is on the rise and we’re thrilled to deliver new menu items that can satisfy everyone.”

Planet Smoothie is serving three new smoothies made with a new Meal Replacement protein, formulated with whey protein isolate, fiber and 15 vitamins and minerals: the Strawberry Super Squeeze Smoothie, PB Blues Smoothie and Cookie Crusher Smoothie.

“Our new Meal Replacement protein is launching just in time to help customers get a jump start on their New Year’s resolutions,” said Nicole Butcher, director of marketing at Kahala Brands, parent company of Planet Smoothie. “No matter what your health goal is, Planet Smoothie has a full menu of delicious, nutrient-rich options for you.”

Yogurtland is introducing Plant-Based Pineapple & Greens Smoothie Bowl, a new vegan offering made with pineapple juice, kale and spinach. Containing no added sugars, the smoothie bowl may be customized with fruit, nuts, granola and more.

“Our new Smoothie Bowl expands our range of diverse and dietary-friendly options for our entire audience,” said Brittany Knollmiller, senior marketing manager for Yogurtland. “We are excited to start the year with a fresh new flavor that offers our guests a better-for-you treat that they can get creative with.”

Peet’s Coffee is pouring the new Golden Tonic, made with Mighty Leaf Green Tea Tropical steamed with turmeric, yuzu citrus and ginger with a touch of honey.

“Turmeric and ginger continue to grow in demand, particularly in beverages driven by their reputed functional benefits,” said Patrick Main, senior beverage R&D manager for Peet’s Coffee. “This beverage highlights the flavorful and fragrant ingredients for a delicious and invigorating beverage to restore after the holidays.”

Also arriving on the Peet’s menu is the Egg White, Tomato & Feta Frittata, made with egg whites whipped with a blend of Greek yogurt, cream and feta flecked with chunks of roasted tomatoes and kale.

“As consumers becoming increasingly focused on making careful dietary choices, we want to provide foods that match their values,” said Lori Fulmer, senior food R&D manager for Peet’s. “We’re excited to unveil our new frittata that is made without wheat, provides an excellent source of protein and delivers an egg white option allowing our customers to satisfying their cravings in a way that meets their needs.”

View a slideshow of new menu items.



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