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Carbs reimagined text next to static sandwich image, looping video of fresh bread being torn open

Carbs in a New Light

September 19, 2022

When it comes to carbohydrates, it's the quality — not quantity — that matters most. 

With consumers taking a more holistic approach to their healthy dining habits, carbs are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Consumers around the world have given carbs a second chance as comfort food came back into favor during the height of the pandemic. 

In foodservice, experimentation has given rise to artisan breads and pastas made in-house. A traditional Mexican bakery in San Antonio, TX specializes in handmade bread, with a unique approach that includes a 48-hour fermentation process resulting in artisan, top-notch, long cultured bread. An Italian-inspired restaurant in Venice, CA features a tagliolini pasta infused with red beet on the menu, to bring a wholesome, plant-forward, and colorful spin to traditional semolina pasta. And on the menu of a nation-wide burger chain, the veggie burger patty is made of black beans and corn which is served on a whole wheat bun that utilizes spent grains and beer in the dough to pump up the flavor.1 Snacking and appetizer menus are also fueling up on reimagined carbs with items such as energy bites made with various grains, cauliflower “wings” and craft popcorn.
The carb resurgence intertwines with the rise in plant-based proteins. Ancient grains, sprouted grains, legumes and pulses help boost protein content across both traditional wheat and gluten-free products. Brands are also incorporating vegetables into formulations to boost health credentials and wholesome cues and communicate functional benefits such as immunity and digestive health.1 The incorporation of functional terms and nutritional callouts into menu descriptions will encourage trial and combat previous notions that carbs are an enemy.
Looking to fuel innovation across menus and product categories? Consider clean label, unrefined and “whole food” carbs.



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Advances in sugar reduction technology will encourage wholesome menu innovation with minimal compromise to taste.

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The plethora of health benefits found within whole grains will allow operators to share health claims such as gut health, sustained energy and immunity.

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On-trend ancient grains and seeds will be incorporated into carb-heavy menu offerings, such as pre-made pizza dough and pasta, to add wholesomeness and health credentials.


Whole Almonds and Ground Almond Flour


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Operators are shining the spotlight on fermentation, creating sourdough breads that have fermented for 48 hours or using fermented butter in biscuits. They’re also utilizing ancient grains to provide healthier, higher quality baked goods.

A fresh take on carbohydrates is becoming more prominent within non-commercial dining as foodservice directors continue to address the needs of gluten-free, plant-based and health-conscious diners.

Whether to provide variety to weekly routines or incorporate wholesome elements, processors are offering a wide variety of carbs within dishes, snacks, and smoothies including chickpeas, bulgur and flax seeds.

Clear Jars containing different grain sources


Ingredients like legumes, pulses and ancient grains give chefs and product developers the chance to approach carbs from a fresh perspective. Join Chef Jonny Tomlin as he creates a unique Ethiopian Sweet Potato Tempura with Toasted Salt and Berbere Dip, using teff flour as the foundation for a light and airy batter.

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“Quality carbohydrates, clean labels and authentic ingredients are being celebrated by chefs as they create wholesome yet exciting flavors and textures that nourish and fuel the whole body, mind and soul.

Minimizing refined carbs and embracing whole or sprouted grains, oats and healthier pastas with alternative flours are an exciting addition to your menu when paired with fresh seasonal vegetables and chef crafted clean label flavors and global sauces that allow your creativity to shine.”

– Chef Scott Gilbert CEC, AAC, HGT

Casava plant with ground cassava in bowl

Nutritional Spotlight: Carbohydrates

Along with fats and proteins, carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients found in our diets. They represent a significant proportion of the foods we consume and serve as a primary source of energy. But unlike their fellow macronutrients, carbohydrates are made of glucose, the preferred energy source for the brain and muscles. While carbohydrates are found in many forms and foods, the key is to focus on whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes that offer a variety of carbohydrate structures along with other beneficial nutrients. With these foods as the primary sources of carbohydrates, we receive not just energy but nutrient-dense options that support gut health, heart health, immune function and more. Upcycled, imperfect and sustainably produced carbohydrate sources are becoming increasingly available within the category as well, helping bring awareness not just to personal health but to the health of our planet.

Jackie Schultz, MS, RDN, Director of Global Nutrition, Griffith Foods

Jackie Schulz, MS, RDN,
Director of Global Nutrition, Griffith Foods

Whole Bananas pictured next ground banana powder and fresh-cut banana slices


culinary inspiration

Get inspired by these on-trend concepts to create innovative offerings using Custom Culinary® products. 

Lentil & Ricotta Manicotti

Lentil & Ricotta Manicotti

Delicate red lentil crepes are stuffed with ricotta and fontina cheeses, charred broccoli, fresh herbs and topped with a sundried tomato pesto cream sauce.2

Featuring: Custom Culinary® Gold Label RTU Frozen Sundried Tomato Pesto Sauce

Buckwheat Egg Foo Young

Bean sprouts, buckwheat, mushrooms, scallions and egg are cooked into a light and flavorful omelette and served with rich pork gravy and shredded cabbage and toasted sesame seeds.2

Featuring: Custom Culinary® PanRoast® Pork Flavored Gravy Mix   

Buckwheat Egg Foo Young

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© 2022 Custom Culinary Inc. All rights reserved.
*Custom Culinary® is part of the Griffith Foods family of companies.

1 Mintel Consulting, 2022 FlavorIQ® Global Trends and Insights Report, January 2022
2 This image was AI-created by DALL-E. Learn more at