Philadelphia Catering Is Now Offering New Healthy Lower Calorie Boxed Lunch Options

Did you know the United States is the most obese country in the world, with more than 34% of the population being classified as obese? In our nation today, millions of people are struggling with maintaining a healthy weight, which can affect countless aspects of one’s lifestyle. One of the biggest contributors to the obesity epidemic is something that is seemingly fixable, yet plays a huge role in weight gain: going out to eat.

Eating food from restaurants or fast food places is something that is convenient and quick for most people with a busy schedule. However, many people don’t know just how much they’re getting when they choose to buy food to-go. Between the huge amounts of fat, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol in each item, plus the fact that portion sizes are through the roof, the calories begin to really stack up. This, paired with the fact that many places don’t offer nutrition facts, makes it difficult for people trying to make healthier choices.

Nutritional information is clearly marked for each lunch item

This is why Philadelphia Catering is beginning a new line of boxed lunches that makes it easy to know exactly what you’re eating. Two new varieties of lunches will be offered: bagged lunches under 500 calories, and boxed lunches under 700 calories. Not only do these new options have a reasonable portion size, they also contain healthier ingredients: A fruit salad in place of pasta salad, lighter baked chips instead of regular chips, and a granola bar in the place of cookies. We have strived to make these meals taste and satisfy just as well as our regular boxed lunches, while also being a healthier option for anyone attempting to lose weight, or even just trying to be more conscious about how much they are eating.

Our new boxes and bags will be offered with every boxed lunch order, and will be labeled with stickers specifying whether it is under 500 or 700 calories and a sticker listing the calorie, fat, carbohydrate and protein content. For further nutritional information, customers can visit our website to view a full list of nutritional facts for every item.

Healthy, satisfying and all under 700 calories!

The PCC Test Kitchen in Search of Tasty Vegan Foods

Blog Article Contributed By: Julia DeCecco

Every month The Philadelphia Catering Company sends out customer satisfaction surveys to a sampling of our customers (see PhillyFeed$back blog). One of the questions we ask is, “What would you like to see added to our menu?”  The number one answer is more vegetarian and vegan offerings.  So, the PCC test kitchen has been busy this summer testing and creating, with the goal to make some truly delicious vegan dishes that anyone can like.

Veganism is an up and coming lifestyle that is taking our country by storm. While many people have a negative connotation to the word “vegan,” this lifestyle is actually centered on cruelty-free practices and compassion. A vegan diet means abstaining from eating all meat based products, all dairy based products, and anything else that has come into contact with an animal, such as honey and eggs. Some vegan diets are based in ethics; others are based in wellbeing, while still others are based in environmental causes. Whatever the reason, vegan diets are shown to be optimal for health by promoting heart healthy eating habits.

While the perks of the lifestyle may seem convincing, vegan diets can be inconvenient to say the least. Cooking at home may not be a problem, but when eating out, most foods contain meat and dairy, and even if they don’t many times vegan foods are cooked on the same surface as animal products. Philadelphia Catering Company has made it a goal to offer vegan friendly dishes that are so creative and delicious, even non-vegans will enjoy them.

Testing new vegan foods is a unique challenge that is different than anything our kitchen has tried before. While stereotypical vegan foods such as tofu and meat substitutes are what most people would expect in a vegan dish, we’ve tried to expand our scope of vegan foods. Our test kitchen has tried numerous new fun and exciting dishes in the past months, experimenting with spices, herbs, and unique fruits and vegetables that enhance the flavor of each recipe. One of the newest, most unique recipes we’ve tested is based from a distinctive fruit from Southeast Asia: Jackfruit.

jackfruit

Raw Jackfruit

With the consistency and texture like pulled pork, jackfruit has a subtle taste that easily takes on the flavor of whatever it’s seasoned with, making it the perfect hearty base for a variety of vegan recipes. In our test kitchen, we decided to make jackfruit tacos, seasoned with distinct spices such as cumin and chili powder and mixed with fresh herbs like cilantro. When opening the can of jackfruit, we were at first wary of the artichoke-like fruit in the can. But as the recipe came together, it was clear that we were onto something.

jackfruit2

Canned Jackfruit Hitting the Shelves of Food Stores

The final product looked so much like pulled pork it surprised everyone. From the presentation to the texture, pulled jackfruit won over even the staunchest non-vegans that tried it. The flavor is light and refreshing, and at just 90 calories per one cup serving of jackfruit with no cholesterol or saturated fat, it makes it a much healthier alternative than pulled pork.

jackfruit3

PCC Test Kitchen Creates Spicy Jackfruit Tacos

Pulled jackfruit tacos are just one of the many new things we are testing to add to our vegan options on the menu, along with other new recipes like zucchini boats – see our Chef’s Corner – http://www.philadelphiacatering.com/recipes/index.asp.

zuchinii blog

Vegan Zucchini Boats

As veganism continues to rise in popularity and the consumption of meat products decreases, we will begin to add more of these delicious and creative items to the menu.

jackfruit4

Jackfruit Tacos

Article By: Julia DeCecco

Julia serving

Julia has been server and intern for PCC for over 5 years. She is currently studying Nutrition & Dietetics at The University of Delaware, and she is on track to become a Registered Dietitian. A vegetarian herself, Julia is passionate about good food and good health. Follow her fabulous healthy food on Instagram @peanutbutterbliss.

Coming Soon…PCC Nutritional Facts

 

Blog Post Contributed by: Julia DeCecco, Dietetics Student at the University of Delaware

No Small Feat – Julia Crunching the Numbers to Generate Nutrition Facts

Since way, way back in 2009, Philadelphia Catering Company has been my summer job. From working in the office on our website, to the back room packing orders, to customer event sites as a server, I’ve always been able to put my skills to work as I progressed through middle school and high school.

In my junior year of high school, through a wild mess of AP classes, SATs and college visits, I found my passion – nutrition. It started with eating better and progressed into a love for healthy food, cooking and fitness. Before I knew it, I was off to University of Delaware to study nutrition and dietetics. As my knowledge of health and nutrition expanded through my lectures and labs, I began to crave more than just learning – I wanted hands-on experience. And that’s where I found my latest project for Philadelphia Catering: compiling the nutrition facts for all the items on the menu.  However, my already seemingly extensive nutrition knowledge didn’t mean calculating nutrition was easy. Sure, I had experience tracking food, and I had a pretty general knowledge for how many calories are in this, how much fat is in that, etc. But starting from scratch was a whole different story. How will we organize the data? How much butter is actually in the French toast? How do you convert liquid ounces to weight ounces? Do the calories in a marinade get cooked off or do they factor in? How much ham is in the ham and swiss sandwich? And don’t even get me started on how to work excel…. the bottom line was there was a lot on our plate (pun intended). But, with a lot of time, effort, and collaboration, each and every piece slowly started to fit together until a clear picture of how the project was going to work surfaced.

As our nation’s knowledge of health and nutrition grows more and more, so does the desire to know what is actually in what we’re eating. Restaurants and food services have been increasingly releasing nutritional information for their company for exactly this reason. Thus, nutritional data has become even more accessible – from apps like MyFitnessPal and LoseIt to even the USDA’s Supertracker website. These small pieces of information, though seemingly unimportant in the long run, actually leads to healthier choices, and ultimately a healthier America. With many of the leading causes of death in the United States being nutrition related, it’s vital that Americans begin to really evaluate their lives from a nutritional standpoint. Even by just choosing a lower sugar scone, or turkey bacon over pork, or a vegetarian sandwich over one loaded with meat, you can make a difference in your diet.

So this is why Philadelphia Catering has decided to offer nutrition facts– because small choices can add up in the end to make a big difference.

We currently have the nutritional facts for our breakfasts and sandwich menu items.  See our website at – http://www.philadelphiacatering.com/nutrition-facts.asp.  This is a work in progress.  We will add more pages and categories during my Winter & Spring Breaks and finish up next Summer.   The idea will be eventually to provide a QR code on your buffet that will link you to the nutritional facts and allergens for your meal.  Please feel free to let me know your comments at Info@philadelphiacatering.com.

Julia’s PCC Work History

My First Assignment - Creating the PCC Photo Gallery

My First Assignment – Creating the PCC Photo Gallery

Packing Disposables for Orders

Packing Disposables for Orders

PCC Server Working at Catering Events

PCC Server Working at Catering Events

PCC 2015 Green Report: A Bump In The Road To Our Greener Future

A Bump in the Road to Sustainability

At PCC we are proud of our commitment to do our part to help the planet.  We regularly review our policies, procedures and processes to see if what changes can be made that will have a beneficial effect on the environment and work in our business model.  Some of these include improving energy efficiencies in our facility, composting and recycling our waste, offering ‘greener’ alternatives to our clients.  We began offering ‘zero-waste’ events to our clients and the enthusiasm was inspiring.  We were very proud to be one of the few caterers who had the resources to conduct small and large scale zero-waste events.   With our knowledgeable staff, compostable disposable offerings and composting service, we had become the ‘go-to’ people for sustainability in catering.  Then suddenly last summer our program encountered a major hurdle.  Our composting partner, Organic Diversion, informed us that their professional composting facility, Peninsula Compost Company, in Wilmington had been closed for an indefinite period.  All indications are that it will never reopen.

Wilmington Organics Recycling Center  - CLOSED

Wilmington Organics Recycling Center – CLOSED

The key factor to being able to conduct reduced and zero waste events is having access to a professional composting facility.  Non-food compostables such as plates, cups and utensils are made from sturdy materials including paper, leaves, and corn based resources. They are all compostable, but require the higher temperatures in composting piles achieved only in professional facilities.  It turns out this is the only facility of its kind in our area.  So for now, we are unable to provide zero-waste events.  We can still compost food waste, but this is small compared to the bulk of plates, napkins and utensils generated at events.  So we find ourselves in this paradigm shift where the greenest option is plastic.  Plastic??? Why plastic?  Plastic can be recycled.  A quick audit of our disposable items revealed that they are made of plastics #5 and #6, which can be recycled by The City of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania.   So a reduced waste event now consists of recycling the plastic disposables and composting the food waste.   One could argue that the compostable disposables will biodegrade quicker in the landfill, however, this process releases methane – a more potent greenhouse gas than Co2.  True there is methane released in composting, however, there is the benefit of the actual compost being returned to farms as nutrient rich soil and a reduction of the overall volume sent to the landfill.  So for now it’s plastic.  Hard to believe, when just a short while ago we were on our way to really changing the way people thought about their events and having great sustainable options.  In the meantime we will encourage recycling and continue to search for composting options and encouraging our suppliers to keep stocking compostable items so that we can step right back in when the opportunity arises.

Plastic Recycling Widely Available and Currently Our Best Option

Plastic Recycling Widely Available and Currently Our Best Option

Our periodic review of our sustainability initiatives has yielded our annual 2015 Green Report.  You will notice a decrease in green events in 2015 in comparison to 2014.  This is the disheartening reality of our composting predicament. To view the report, click this link – http://www.philadelphiacatering.com/greeninitiatives.asp.

2015 Green report

2015 Green Report

To read more about the Wilmington composting facility and a troubling conspiracy theory on Waste Management and its dubious role in this closing –  click link

Failure of the Wilmington Compost Facility Underscores Need for a Locally Based and Diverse Composting Infrastructure

Philly Feed$Back

Phillyfeedsbacklogo

At Philadelphia Catering we are always trying to think of ways to improve our products and services.  We thought, what better way to find out than to ask our customers?  We need honest answers, good or bad, to help us improve and innovate.  Our dilemma is – how do we get you to tell us anonymously, so you can be candid, without taking your valuable time or being annoyed with email surveys?  How about an incentive?  We could give you cookies for survey replies, which would definitely work.  But, we want the answers to be anonymous so you can feel comfortable to be completely honest.  What we came up with, we feel is a win-win for everyone.

For every completed anonymous survey we receive – we will provide a meal for a hungry child!  

You help us – we help hungry children – you get better products and service from Philadelphia Catering. Philadelphia Catering Company announces the creation of, PhillyFeed$Back, a partnership with KidsBites, a Philabundance initiative. It’s a win-win-win.  The partnership centers on PCC soliciting feedback through a series of surveys to our customers.  As an incentive, PCC donates money for one meal to KidsBites for each completed survey.    Last month we started sending out surveys and the quality of the feedback has been tremendous – THANK YOU!  Today PCC will donate 97 meals to KidsBites.  This represents about 15% of the surveys sent, so we still have 85% out there to be completed.  So if you see an email request from us to fill out a survey – Help us out…Help a child out.

Hunger statistics:

  • Close to 40% of kids in Philadelphia live in poverty
  • Hungry children are 60% more likely to miss school
  • Hungry children are twice as likely to be suspended from school

Some links to learn more about poverty, hunger and how it affects children.

http://www.philabundance.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Ceres-Newsletter-3-28-13_a.pdf

http://whyy.org/cms/fridayarts/philabundance/

http://www.npr.org/2013/11/21/246413432/weighing-the-role-of-poverty-in-philadelphia-s-schools

We are proud to be part of KidsBites, and to help put an end to undernourished children. Please help us pay it forward by taking a few minutes to complete the survey.

Philadelphia Catering Company Now Serving Rainforest Alliance Certified Coffee

Cafe Excellence: Coffee with a conscience

Cafe Excellence: Coffee with a conscience

A few years back we took a look at our coffee supplier to make sure we were providing our customers with the best value.  What we found was that our coffee roaster, Cafe Excellence, was a great small local roaster providing some of the best coffee around.

– see blog – https://philadelphiacateringblog.com/2012/07/.

This time around being true to our mission on sustainability we decided to take a look to see if there are more sustainable options we can take advantage of with our coffee service.  Cafe Excellence again does not disappoint.  Also being committed to sustainability Cafe Excellence carries a line of coffee with the  Rainforest Alliance Certified seal.

RAC Seal of approval

RAC Seal of approval

According to the Rain Forest Alliance;

Products bearing the seal originate on, or contain ingredients sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms or forests. These farms and forests are managed according to rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria designed to conserve wildlife; safeguard soils and waterways; protect workers, their families and local communities; and increase livelihoods in order to achieve true, long-term sustainability.”

We serve a lot of coffee.  Last year we served 97,454 cups of coffee and 719,368 cups of coffee since 2004.   Our 15 Year PCC veteran employee, Joe Kidd is responsible for brewing most of it and he is very pleased with the new initiative.  So once again a simple day to day business decision can have far reaching effects to help improve lives, our environment, and our planet.

Our 15 year veteran employee, Joe Kidd in action

Our 15 year veteran employee, Joe Kidd in action

 

PCC Owners Alan and Tim celebrating Joe and his 15 excellent years of service

PCC Owners Alan and Tim celebrating Joe and his 15 excellent years of service

Cafe Excellence is planning on expanding their Rain Forest Alliance Certified offerings and you can buy them online – check them out – http://cafeexcellence.com/rainforest-alliance-coffee/

To learn more about the Rainforest Alliance – http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/about

Bravo Cafe Excellence!

Bravo Cafe Excellence!

Some Brotherly Love in Yosemite

Putting Some Yo! in Yosemite

Putting Some Yo! in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park.  An incredible place to visit, an even more incredible place to live.  Surrounded daily by the awesome beauty of Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls and the list goes on.  Cool people, perfect California weather, authentic cheese steaks (cue sound effect of needle dragging across record)….I mean NO cheese steaks.  What is a former Philly girl to do?  About 10 years ago, my sister Cathy moved to Yosemite Valley to continue her teaching profession and discover her love of nature and climbing.  Living in Yosemite has been a rewarding and rich experience, however it comes at cost.  While you are surrounded with magnificence, you are also in a culinary desert.  That’s a slight exaggeration, but finding a real cheese steak in Yosemite Valley is as about as likely as finding a grizzly bear walking down Market Street.

Nothing compares to those delicious, just right chewy-soft rolls.  Urban legend says the secret is the Philly water used in the recipe that makes them impossible to duplicate.

Nothing compares to these delicious, just right, chewy-soft rolls. Urban legend says the secret is the Philly water used in the recipe that makes them impossible to duplicate anywhere else.

Cathy is a cheese steak aficionado.  A veteran of the grill – spending much time making this classic sandwich for hordes of satisfied customers in our Powelton Pizza days.  Last month I received an email from her asking if it is possible to send all the ingredients necessary for her to have a Philly cheese steak party.  Sure …no problem if you don’t mind shipping costs in the hundreds of dollars!!  She sadly declined.  We decided since her birthday was around the corner and she truly was jonesing for this great sandwich,  Philadelphia Catering Company would help her out and ship a Philly cheese steak feast to the land of grizzly bears.

Thanks to overnight shipping and dry ice, the package arrived safely.

Thanks to overnight shipping and dry ice, the package arrived safely.

The package arrived safely (and still frozen) on her birthday.  She gathered a group of her Yosemite friends and got to work making this Philly feast. As I mentioned, Cathy is a cheese steak making veteran, and like riding a bike, a skill you never forget.

Here's the beef!

Here’s the beef!

You can take a girl out of Philly, but you can never take the Philly out of a girl. Amen.

You can take a girl out of Philly, but you can never take the Philly out of a girl. Amen.

The Philly feast was a success.  Cathy’s friends enjoyed authentic Philly cheese steaks out in the wild west of Yosemite.  It was the talk of the valley. Now I’d say for sure that’s bringing some Philly Yo! into Yosemite.

Philly rule: Never discuss the calorie count of a cheese steak, especially before everyone's about to eat.

Philly rule: Never discuss the calorie count of a cheese steak, especially right before everyone’s about to eat.

Some happy campers!

Some happy campers!

Even kitty Dolomite got a sample.

Even kitty Dolomite got a sample