The idea of food as medicine is a concept that is increasingly being embraced by a new wave of health conscious eaters. Unlike many modern diets and so-called superfoods, which are commonly marketed as being a one-stop health fix, despite there often being little scientific evidence to support this, functional foods offer an alternative way of eating based around known health benefits beyond basic nutrition.
There is an ever-growing amount of evidence and research that consuming a full and varied diet of different foods and food combinations can have positive health benefits and as people become more aware of the correlation between their health and what they eat, this concept of food as medicine is set to gain ever greater traction. At its core, it harks back to the idea that a good diet doesn’t have to rely on exotic, over-marketed ingredients or strict eating regimes, but rather be a well-balanced combination of ingredients and dishes that will not only nourish but help maintain overall wellness. Put simply, by eating the correct food and food combinations you can not only positively affect your mood, but also your physical and mental health.
Such functional foods include everything from vitamin-rich fruit and lycopene-laced tomatoes to whole grains full of dietary fibre and oily fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Spices, in particular, lend themselves to being used in this way – they not only add a wealth of flavour, colour and texture to food, but also have well-documented health benefits.
This way of eating is something we have previously written about (see our previous blog here) and it’s a concept we apply when we are creating our own menus for clients. We have one client in particular, which operates meeting spaces for workshops and staff development for which we provide a daily lunch menu which are specifically designed to stimulate the senses and encourage productivity throughout the day. We create complete menus that are both vibrant and colourful, and healthy and functional – it’s food that feeds the brain and as well as the body, and that most importantly leaves clients feeling satisfied, yet alert and on top of their game. We have observed that if clients eat a satisfying lunch then it encourages them to be more engaged with their work and hence plays an integral role in the success of a daily work session.
Alongside creating healthy, functional food we also work closely with our clients when designing menus and they are tailor-made to meet client expectations, whether it be menus informed by current food trends or based on a specific global cuisine or dietary requirement. Our menus also have a strong leaning towards plant-based dishes, with only a small portion of protein to provide balance, and we always ensure that we have inventive vegetarian and vegan offerings.
For example, we recently crafted menus to a specific brief for a group of high-profile fashion industry executives, who wanted a light working lunch that was not only healthy, but colourful and full of different textures and flavour profiles. Two menus suitable for such a client are as follows:
Coconut poached chicken,
brown rice noodles, enoki mushrooms,
ginger and lime dressing
Banh Xeo pancakes
Vietmanese brown rice flour pancakes,
broccoli, mushrooms, kale and bean spouts
Cauliflower, cucumber, green beans,
bean sprouts and red pepper
Cabbage, heritage carrots and roasted peanuts
Oriental leaf salad
with jasmine poached lychees
Fresh fruit salad
Brown rice noodles
These are gluten free
Are an excellent functional food – and enoki mushrooms in particular are a source of protein,
complex carbohydrates, trace minerals and antioxidants
Contains lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that help protect against macular degeneration,
and the B vitamin folate, which is essential for brain development
A rich source of protein and antioxidants, and low in carbs
Hot smoked salmon,
heritage beetroot salad, soft-boiled egg
and horseradish crème fraîche
Grilled sweet potato,
purple spouting broccoli
and miso butter
turmeric roasted cauliflower
and roasted grapes
kohlrabi, apple, fennel
watercress and soft herb salad
Yoghurt panna cotta,
rhubarb and stem ginger
Fresh fruit salad
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Full of beta-carotene, a carotenoid that helps the body convert Vitamin A into a usable form
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids
A good source of manganese and copper, and zinc – important mineral antioxidants, and vitamin K.
The Aspergillus and other micro-organisms used in fermentation of soy miso
are thought to enrich the body’s gut flora
Grilled sweet potato
purple spouting broccoli and miso butter
4 x Sweet potatoes
12 x purple spouting or tenderstem broccoli stems
125g soft unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of white miso
Freshly ground black pepper
Shiso cress for garnish
Make the miso butter – cream the soft butter with white miso and season with freshly ground black pepper. Roll into a log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for cutting into slices later.
Bake the sweet potatoes whole in a pre-heated oven (180/200 C) for 45 mins or until soft.
Heat a griddle pan until very hot, cut the sweet potatoes in half, brush with sunflower oil,
season with sea salt and grill until burnished with grill marks.
Meanwhile blanch the tender stem broccoli in boiling salted water until cooked, about 3-4 mins.
Serve 3 cooked, hot broccoli stems on top of a grilled hot sweet potato and finish with a slice of miso butter which should melt over the broccoli, garnish with some shiso cress.