Pastas Leap to Whole-Wheat

Your customers are always looking for a new way to eat healthier. In the upcoming April issue, PMQ managing editor Jim Dees looks at serving whole-wheat pasta, and provides a brief introduction here.

According to The Whole Grains Council, a San Diego-based, nonprofit, consumer advocacy group that tracks dining trends, nearly 10 times as many new whole grain products were introduced in 2006 as in the year 2000. An A.C. Nielsen study further reported a 20% increase in the sale of whole-wheat pasta last year over 2006. Pizzeria operators have taken notice, and one, Uno Chicago Grill (www.unos.com), has recently garnered the No.1 spot on Health magazine’s list of healthiest chain restaurants for its multi-grain pastas, lower-calorie flatbread pizzas and gluten-free options.

Nutrition research bears out that whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, which helps in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion. Whole grains have also been shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and help women prevent gallstones and breast cancer.

Village Pizzeria and Ristorante, East Galway, New York
Whole-wheat pasta has made its way onto the extensive menu at the Village Pizzeria and Ristorante in East Galway, New York (www.villagepizzeria.com), and owner Sandy Foster is proud of one dish in particular. “Our Penne Tuscano is made with whole-wheat pasta and tossed with roasted fennel, spinach, tomatoes, goat cheese, extra virgin olive oil and basil. I came up with the dish myself one day just playing around with ingredients in the kitchen,” she recalls.

There’s something else on the menu that Foster is not necessarily proud of but concedes is necessary. “We charge two dollars extra for any whole-wheat pasta dish,” she says. “We make all of our pasta ourselves and it is very labor intensive. The whole-wheat costs more and takes longer to prepare, so we add the extra charge.” Foster says the added price hasn’t hampered sales.

“Whole-wheat has definitely come into its own over the last couple of years,” reports this 20-year food industry veteran. “It’s an acquired taste for some people but we’re selling more and more of it. The healthy eating trend is part of it, but you also have some people who order it because their doctors have recommended it to them to benefit their heart or their blood sugar.”
Foster says she’s noticed that whole-wheat pasta tends to sell more during the spring and summer months. “I guess people try to eat healthier during warm weather; maybe they’re worried about fitting into their bathing suits,” she says with a laugh.
To learn more check out April’s edition of “Healthy Slice.”