Head Start

Head Start

From cereals, toast and pastries to a traditional full English it’s important to offer residents plenty of choice at breakfast to get the day’s nutritional intake off to a good start

Often cited as the most important meal of the day, breakfast is no less vital in a care home setting.

“It’s a way for the residents to start their day off positively and an important time to allow care home caterers to encourage residents to eat well and set themselves up for the day ahead,” says Aine Melichar, Senior Brand Manager for Kerrymaid. “Without the need to rush to work, residents can dedicate more time to enjoying breakfast, and that means it is a great time to offer a variety of protein-rich, nutritionally balanced options. Protein provides a range of health benefits and is essential to support positive muscle maintenance and minimise muscle loss.

“Given the importance of the meal, offering varied breakfast foods such as fortified cereals, protein sources such as eggs, dairy, yogurt and yogurt drinks are a good way to make sure the residents are receiving as much nutrition as they can,” continues Aine. Kerrymaid’s new Care Collection, containing recipes, insight and advice for the care channel, includes several new recipes ideal for breakfast time, including Coconut, Banana & Oat Super Smoothie, Smoked Salmon, Smashed Avocado & Potato Pancakes, savoury or sweet French Toast, Corned Beef Hash and Banana Bread.

With yogurt being rich in calcium and protein, care home caterers might be interested to learn that Müllerlight Greek Style yogurt is now available in a convenient 500g multi-serve pot. Now with 0% added sugar (it contains naturally occurring sugars), it is a cost effective alternative to traditional bulk yogurt and may be served with fruit and/or granola for a filling and nutritious breakfast. The new Big Pot is available in three flavours – Coconut & Vanilla, Lemon and Skinny Latte.

Sarah Morris, National Account Manager Foodservice, Weetabix Food Group, says it’s important to communicate nutritional information to residents and their families. “There’s a great deal to be gained by drawing attention to nutritional advantages residents might not be aware of,” she says. “What’s more, it’s important to showcase a meal’s benefits. Take hot and cold cereal options, for instance, which can cater to different resident needs: Ready Brek is popular within the healthcare catering sector, with the health benefits appealing to residents and professionals. The Ready Brek smoothie recipes including fresh fruit also offer a healthy and easy-to-prepare alterative for residents to enjoy.”

Considering all eating environments and preferences is important too, and for residents who find it difficult to sit down for lengthy periods, something like Weetabix Protein Biscuits or Weetabix On the Go drinks provide a nutritious hand-held option.

The range of On The Go Pouches from Cereal Partners is another great option for those residents who don’t want necessarily to sit down and eat breakfast at the same time as everyone else. The single serve sizes of favourite cereals such as Nesquik, Cheerios, Shredded Wheat Bitesize and Shreddies are not only fantastic for portion control, but they also ensure freshness with no risk of contamination whenever and wherever a resident chooses to have a ‘breakfast snack’. There is also a gluten-free Cornflakes pouch, giving those with coeliac disease or gluten intolerance the chance to enjoy a familiar breakfast cereal whenever they want.

When it comes to a continental breakfast the croissant is king. Or is it? “There’s more to continental pastries than the traditional butter croissant – though there’s nothing wrong with those! Offering a variety of continental viennoiserie is an easy way to make breakfast more appetising,” says Stephanie Brillouet, Délifrance UK Marketing Director. “As well as the traditional variants, offer a variety of croissants, from chocolate filled to almond flavoured or even a multiseed alternative. Or, for something a little different, offer pains au chocolat or pains aux raisins. To avoid wastage, offer a different alternate alongside the traditional pastry each day or each week, and see which variants are enjoyed the most.”
Stephanie suggests having these popular ready-to-bake pastries available alongside a range of artisanal breads to ring the changes and tempt residents in the morning.

So, if you’re looking for speciality breads you might check out the recently launched range of Artisan Speciality Breads from Pan’Artisan. “Perfectly suited to many day parts, but especially breakfast, the bread stick selection is akin to what is commonly found on the continent and offers an adaptable and easy to use product; great as a morning snack with a hot drink,” says Stuart Jackson, Director of Sales, Pan’Artisan Ltd. The six varieties cater to many styles of service, including breakfast: specially suitable are Multi Cereal Bread Sticks, containing a mix of grains and cereals, light in texture, rich in flavour and aroma, and Mini Raisin Bread Sticks, providing a naturally sweet and healthier alternative to patisserie.

There is currently a trend towards using sweet versions of savoury products and savoury versions of sweet products, or a combination of the two, and this blends seamlessly in the American pancake, as supplied by Central Foods. “American pancakes are really proving popular as breakfast items in the UK at the moment,” says Gordon Lauder, Managing Director of frozen food distributor Central Foods. “Try bacon and maple syrup, as well as the more traditional salmon and scrambled egg, for tasty breakfast items.” Gordon points out that, being frozen, the pancakes can be quickly defrosted and prepared according to demand.

Another product which lends itself to on-demand breakfasts is KaterBake’s Fruitbread. Says Gordon: “Perfect for breakfast or brunch, and suitable for vegetarians, they just need thawing and toasting in a panini machine, in a toaster or under a grill, and then they’re ready to serve with butter and jam. Made using a sponge and dough process, enriched with egg and flavoured with orange zest and cinnamon, they smell great when toasted, which can be very enticing – an important asset to encourage take-up by care home residents.” Importantly, the KaterBake Fruitbread is individually wrapped so operators can just defrost and serve what they need, which reduces waste.

If it’s a full English your residents are after, what should you consider? “For the sausages nothing beats the flavour of Lincolnshire or Cumberland varieties with a little spice and herb, and when it comes to bacon then wherever possible use a smoked product as it will carry more flavour,” says Danny Silcock, Healthcare Development Chef at Brakes. “Tinned tomatoes not only keep better in a hot trolley, they are softer and easier to eat,” he continues. “As for the eggs, then poached, fried or scrambled are all well suited to the care home menu. Above all, make sure it’s hot!

He adds: “Porridge is a great staple of the breakfast menu but try to make it more exciting and nutritious by using a variety of different toppings such as fresh fruit for added vitamins and minerals, and seeds and nuts
for texture.”

You don’t even need lots of equipment to produce a mouthwatering cooked breakfast menu: instead of the traditional kettles, large pots, bratt pans, fryers and griddles opt for multifunctional equipment which saves time and energy as well as space. “For example, Frima’s VCC 112T, a table-top version of the full-size Frima VarioCooking Center Multificiency, is perfect for cooking omelettes, porridge, poached eggs, fried eggs, pancakes and other breakfast items,” says Simon Lohse, Managing Director of Rational UK. “Ideal for smaller care home kitchens as well as satellite kitchens with limited space, the unit can be used anywhere; on a table, a work surface, a central cooking block, a production area…wherever it’s needed.

“For porridge the Frima will bring the milk up to temperature,” continues Simon. “Care home caterers only need to add the oats, give them a quick stir and leave to cook. Heat transfer is uniform all over the base of the pan, without heating the sides, so there is no scorching or sticking. Omelettes are just as easy; select the omelette setting and how you want them done, pour the mixture into the pan and the Frima will tell you when the omelette is cooked to your exact requirements.” Fresh homemade compotes and jams, as well as stewed fruits, can also be made in the unit.

Finally, if you’re looking to upgrade your toaster (to make the most of those lovely homemade jams!) Pantheon has just added a new on/off switch to its easy to operate CT1 Conveyor Toaster – it can take buns, crumpets, teacakes, muffins as well as bread – while the Rowlett Regency range of toasters from Nisbets comes in two- to 12-slot models that feature a handy ‘toast ready’ ringer.