September 21, 2023


Qualified food specialists

How Aladdin is making healthy eating exciting for students

3 min read
How Aladdin is making healthy eating exciting for students
BeWell dishes

BeWell recipes must fit certain nutritional requirements. / Photo courtesy of Aladdin Campus Dining

Several years ago, Aladdin Campus Dining’s Director of Culinary Eric Pearce started receiving more requests from students for expanded healthy options. 

The answer from Aladdin and its parent company, Elior, was the creation of BeWell, a program that spotlights healthy meals and aims to teach guests how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. BeWell officially launched around 2017, and quickly became popular throughout Elior’s different brands. 

“It hit the ground and took off, and really became a full-on institution within the Elior—and very well in the Aladdin—world, when it comes to culinary and nutrition,” says Pearce. 

Today, Pearce and his team are responsible for coming up with dishes that meet students’ demand for food that is not only healthy, but also exciting and full of flavor. 

Thinking outside of the box 

To qualify as a BeWell item, dishes must contain a plant-based whole food, healthy fats, a lean or plant-based protein, and a high-fiber or probiotic food. 

In addition, they need to have limited added sugar, no trans fats, minimally processed ingredients and be prepared in a way that keeps sodium and portion control in check. 

While BeWell recipes have multiple restrictions, that doesn’t mean they have to be boring, says Pearce. When coming up with new items, the team’s approach is to strike a balance between nutritious and fun, creating recipes that “keep kids guessing” at the dining hall.

Pearce’s favorites include Buffalo cauliflower nachos, topped with an almond milk-based cilantro lime ranch dressing, and plant-based chorizo walking tacos.

Elior tries to further engage students on healthy eating through cooking demos and samplings. The BeWell Teaching Kitchen, for example, gives students the opportunity to see how some of their favorite BeWell dishes are made and learn more about the nutritional benefits they contain. 

“It’s a really fun thing to do within the dining hall, because you get a lot of folks involved when you’d have the chef hat on and you’re out there doing a demonstration,” says Pearce. “It could be a carrot hummus with a homemade cracker or something very simple, but you’d be amazed at the amount of involvement that you get when students walk by.”

Evolving and expanding 

Elior chefs are continuously trying to evolve and expand their repertoire of BeWell recipes. 

To that end, the company recently partnered with the Humane Society to develop more plant-based items that could also be served in the different concepts under the BeWell umbrella, such as plant-based pop-up Vegebond and sports nutrition concept Fueled by BeWell. 

One dish currently under development is a smoky barbecue tri-tip tofu hoagie.

“It sounds a little interesting, but it’s truly amazing how it comes out,” says Pearce. “The taste is amazing.” 

And as the team focuses on what’s next, it will keep students top of mind when deciding how to propel the program forward. 

“At the end of the day, I think listening to our guests—most importantly, the students—comes to mind when we’re asking, what do we need to provide or what do we need to create,” says Pearce. 

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