Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Rob Corliss
April 20, 2021

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Gut health has become an area of increasing focus as a critical component of overall health and well-being. This becomes even more meaningful with the realization that 70 percent of our body’s immune cells live in the gut. The trillions of microorganisms that colonize our digestive tract are referred to as a gut microbiome. In order to keep our gut flourishing, we need to feed it with both probiotic and prebiotic-rich foods. In the context of immunity, “microbiome” is a word that is becoming more common in wellness conversations, and will influence menus in 2021 and beyond.

As consumers look more closely at food as a way to optimize gut health (as opposed to relying primarily on supplements), operators should take note and consider the menu opportunities. Look to bowls as a viable pathway for bringing gut health and immunity to life, as they can naturally feature an abundance of probiotics and prebiotics. Fermented foods and beverages rich in probiotics include: kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, miso, tempeh, cottage cheese, kombucha, tepache, kvass, active culture yogurt and kefir. For ingredients loaded with prebiotics, look to items such as: varieties of nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, seaweed, beans and whole grains. Chefs can incorporate these into dine-in, to-go or family-style bowls and salads.

Below, we show flavor-forward builds that enhance the immune system by supporting gut health:


The Immunity Bowl: Packed with immunity boosters: roasted yams, dark leafy greens, roasted Brussels sprouts, tempeh, quinoa-lentil mix, miso mushroom sauce
Veggie Grill, based in Culver City, Calif.

Lentil Avocado Bowl: falafel, roasted veggies, avocado, spinach, super greens, roasted eggplant, hummus, pickled onions, cucumber, lentil tabbouleh, cabbage slaw, skhug & garlic dressing
Cava, based in Silver Spring, Md.

Lechon: Crispy pork belly, pickled papaya slaw, crispy garlic, scallions, tomatoes, Chinese broccoli, “Sara” sauce (savory and sweet gravy)
Mighty Bowl, New York

Urban Bowl: Mixed salad greens, steamed kale, olive oil, kimchi, sea vegetables, avocado, carrots, scallions, sunflower seeds and za’atar with choice of sauce; add rice, quinoa or poached egg
Harlow, Portland, Ore.

The Mesa Bowl: Quinoa, pumpkin mole, black beans, roasted broccolini, lime-dressed red cabbage, Cotija cheese, corn-poblano salsa, silk chile pepitas
Spyce, two locations in Boston

Warm Probiotic Superfood Oatmeal: Coconut- or maple-flavored oatmeal with 15-plus grams of protein from grass-fed whey and 1 billion CFU probiotics and GF oats, quinoa and amaranth, with choice of three toppings
Vibe Foods; Lone Tree, Colo.

Heart Beet Bowl: Greens blend, pickled beets, crumbled blue cheese, red onion, sweet potatoes, sweet walnuts, Greens house dressing
Greens The Salad Spot, Boardman, Ohio

Keto Smoked Salmon Bowl: Mixed greens, sustainably raised smoked Norwegian salmon, hard-boiled egg, avocado, sour cream, red onion, watermelon radish, everything seasoning, fresh dill, lemon wedge
Modern Market Eatery, based in Denver

Mediterranean Breakfast Bowl: Hummus, tabbouleh, arugula, heirloom tomatoes, cucumber, dill, basil, oregano, fried garbanzos, fried egg and sherry vinaigrette, served with grilled flatbread
Tender Greens, based in Los Angeles

Featured Recipe

Kimchi and pickled vegetables—both gut health heroes— star in this satiating, craveable Seared Pork Belly Breakfast Bowl.Smithfield Culinary

Kimchi and pickled vegetables—both gut health heroes— star in this satiating, craveable Seared Pork Belly Breakfast Bowl.



About The Author

Rob Corliss

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.