(Oct. 10) As you plan your menu for the rest of the year, consider the fruits that are plentifully available October-December. Such produce includes apples, avocados, bananas, grapefruit, grapes, kiwifruit, lemons, limes, oranges, pears and pineapples.

FRESH CHALLENGES

Some people wonder why, in light of increased attention to diet and nutrition, restaurants don’t include more fruits and vegetables on the menu. One report from Food Beat Inc., Wheaton, Ill., notes that 41% of fruit mentions on the menus of the top 200 restaurant chains are associated with desserts.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation, Wilmington, Del., plans to get to the bottom of it and help change the tide. It recently received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study the processes, issues and challenges of the quick-serve and casual-dining restaurant segments in bringing more fruits and vegetables to the menu.

While each restaurant knows its own challenges, there never has been industrywide research on the topic, says Brenda Humphreys, PBH’s director of foodservice.

Technomic Inc. will conduct in-depth interviews with senior menu development and marketing representatives on behalf of PBH beginning in September.

The results, along with recommendations on how to overcome the challenges, will be disseminated at the Worlds of Healthy Flavors Leadership Retreat at the Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, Calif., in January.

A HANDY TIP

September is National Food Safety Education Month, and the theme this year is “Keep Hands Clean with Good Hygiene.” Do your workers know the proper length of time to wash their hands? The time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” through twice is the appropriate length of time to wash hands under hot water, says Mary Adolf, president and chief operating officer for the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Chicago. For more food safety information, visit www.nraef.org/nfsem.

GREATNESS WITH GRAPES

Do more with grapes than garnish. Incorporate them into salads to add a sweet, juicy element. For example, use them in a cashew chicken salad. In a bowl, simply whisk together soy sauce, vegetable oil, honey, sesame oil and red chili flakes. Add roasted cashews, cooked and chopped chicken meat, sliced green onions and seedless grapes. Pile the salad on greens or fill a tortilla with shredded napa cabbage, julienne carrots and the chicken salad for an Asian wrap.

Source: California Table Grape Commission