|BlueSky Business Aviation News|
We all want to eat healthy, but what exactly is healthy? In my opinion, healthy is individual; it is what your body needs . . . as a flight crew member flying a crazy schedule you need a higher protein, higher energy diet with more antioxidants than we might require on the ground with a “normal” 9-5 job. One glove doesn’t fit all, nor does a nutritional program fit everyone. But how do you achieve healthy eating? Over the next few weeks, I am going to suggest several dietary changes over that might help you get started.
Unfortunately you the passenger, or flight crew are, in part, at the mercy of your global food sources. Is that food source able to step off a programmed menu with scripted recipes and prepare a special request that meets your definition of healthy? Is the food source sophisticated enough to understand how to make their normal fare healthier? What choices are available to you in a given market for catering? Or are you just lucky to have bottled water and dry pantry snacks in the galley from the departure location of some areas of the world? I remember a trip one time with one of my daughters; she lived off of dry snacks from her suitcase for days as she was too timid to try the foods we were confronted with during our travels. Are you too timid to try a healthier version of the foods you enjoy eating right now? Step one of eating healthy and meeting your nutritional needs means you should share with the person or persons responsible for ordering the catering for your flight, what you are trying to achieve. If you work with a company that allows you to choose from a preplanned menu from contracted caterers, insist that some of these choices fit a healthier lifestyle. Ask for some ingredient substitutions in the recipe to make the food you desire healthier.
Many diners equate “healthy” with flavorless. I have always been one of those people until I began working with our dietitian Heather Hibben. She, although not a certified chef, is an excellent cook, who has introduced me and the Tastefully Yours staff to an alternative for those passengers and flight crews who are in need of food that better sustains them and their rigorous schedules.
Heather first introduced our kitchen to some simple ingredients to swap to make our dishes more flavorful and healthy. Believe me, I was a doubting Thomas. I wanted to see it to believe it. I wanted to taste it (well, honestly I thought the food would be dreadful and flavorless and wasn’t quite sure I could bring myself to the actual taste). I couldn’t believe that my mother and grandmothers recipes which made us famous could (or even should be) altered and taste the same or better. One by one she began redefining some of our standards to be healthier overall. Her first project was to transform my great grandmother’s Swedish Butter cookie recipe. The name says it all . . . butter. This is one of my all-time favorites. I was actually frightened by the thought of making a change to her generations - old recipe that came with her mother on their journey to the United States from their homeland in Sweden.
Would my grandmother, her mother and my mother come back from the hereafter and haunt me for allowing a change to the family recipe? I was sworn to always keep the family recipes true to my heritage. When the new “healthier” cookies were done, I looked at them on the sheet pan, side by side, to the “original” and visually they looked identical. BUT, the taste, it couldn’t be even similar in my mind. I hesitated as I picked one up to try (only after I had eaten two of the original to get my nerve). Memories of working at the side of my grandmother and mother mixing and baking this very cookie overwhelmed me as I held “it” in my hand ( yes, ”it” was an “it” for now, not deserving of owning a real name yet). I was trying to get the nerve to take a tiny taste of this thing in my hand. You cannot imagine the courage it took for me to raise that cookie to my mouth and eventually take a taste. Flax seed instead of egg, fresh ground almonds instead of extract and white flour and applesauce in place of half the butter…yes 1/2 butter was now gone! A healthier version of my favorite cookie??? My lip curled with disgust at the thought of actually eating this new thing; everyone in the kitchen was watching. I was behaving like a child asked to taste a dreaded vegetable on my dinner plate. You know what? It was really a good cookie, close to my grandmother’s, not quite the same, but actually really good . As I took my second bite, I finally smiled and felt a satisfied sensation as I suggested the rest of the staff should take the taste test. The response was that surely it had to be a joke; it couldn’t be any good, that I just wanted them to suffer over the taste as I must be doing inside.
The end result, ”it” is now a staple cookie on our new healthy menu offering. Heather has made the same cookie with rice flour and made other changes so it is on our gluten-free menu and another version on the sugar free menu. To say the least, I was and am amazed! Even though it is a fantastic cookie, it did need a new name. I couldn’t stand the thought of being haunted by my ancestors by calling it a Swedish Butter Cookie. The new name is Almond Cookie Indulgence; after all, it is a dieter’s or allergy ridden passenger or flight crews’ indulgence.
Now that I was open to the idea of taking some of my personal favorite recipes and making minor changes in them to make them healthier, I began to see an entire new side of our business emerge.
Some of the things we have used as a substitute that you also can use are below. When placing a catering order with a catering source capable of making modifications to their recipes, you might request some of these as an option to fill that healthier menu option for passengers and flight crews either by choice or because of nutritional dietary requirements.
Healthy starts with you. It is up to you to tell those who provide or order your food what you want to achieve with your menu selections. We are after all a team; we need to be able to work together to achieve one final goal . . . To provide healthy, nourishing and flavorful meals for our passengers and crews.
Let me introduce myself . . .
My name is Paula Kraft and I am founder and President of Tastefully Yours Catering, an aviation specific caterer, located in Atlanta, Georgia for 35 years.
Currently I am an active member of the NBAA Flight Attendant Committee Advisory Board and the NBAA International Flight Attendant Committee, Women in Corporate Aviation, Women in Aviation International, National Association of Catering Executives, International Flight Catering Association, the International Food Service Association and the International Caterer’s Association.
I have coordinated training programs and clinics for NBAA, EBAA and BA-Meetup conference attendees for over 10 years, created mentoring programs for caterers and flight attendants to broaden their aviation culinary skills, and to assist them in adapting to the unique challenges and constraints found in catering for general aviation. I recognize the need for training and have worked closely with flight departments, flight crews, schedulers and customer service reps at the FBOs to ensure that catering specific training provides information and skills necessary to reduce risk while assisting them in their job duties that include safe food handling, catering security, accurate transmission of food orders, and safe food production, packaging and delivery.
I fell into aviation catering quite by accident. I was the in-house caterer and bakery supplier for Macy’s department stores in Atlanta when catering was ordered for a Macy’s customer which was soon to change my life. After the client enjoyed the catering provided, I was summoned to the client’s corporate office to provide several of the items delivered through Macy’s to the executive dining room. Within a week, I was providing food for the flight department and my first order was for the President of a foreign country (as I was too be told soon after). So, here I am, some 35 years later, still loving every minute of every day in aviation catering.