If your diners are value conscious, starters and desserts are the first things they’re more like to cut out. Often viewed as indulgences, these parts of your menu will receive little attention unless you make the dishes exciting, healthy treats.

Research has shown that 76% of consumers said starters must look and sound amazing, and would appeal more if they include healthy options.*

To make the most impact, your starter and dessert menus should include both indulgent and healthy options. Here are some tips on how to add flavourful, exciting healthy starters and desserts to your menu. 


  • Soups are a great low calorie and healthy alternative that can be made with virtually any ingredient. Garnish with herbs, seeds, nuts, fresh vegetable or low-fat yoghurt.
  • Salads are great starters as they can help balance a meal and appeal to guests looking for a healthier option.
  • Braise broad beans and artichokes in bouillons for extra flavour and offer them as a low-fat alternative.
  • When creating risottos, use less butter but flavour the rice by simmering in a full-flavoured low sodium stock.
  • When serving a carpaccio of beef, add more flavour and texture with thinly sliced beetroot.
  • Excite guests by mixing tropical fruits with seafood like green papaya and shallots with prawns.


  • Use toasted whole grain bread crumbs as a healthier topping to a favourite pudding dish.
  • Make a healthy fruit dessert with stewed fruit and fat-free yoghurt. Add currants for healthier sweetness.
  • Use sweet fruits or raisins instead of sugar to flavour cakes and biscuits.
  • Sorbets are light options that still pack a flavourful punch. Try pairing a fruit sorbet with an unusual ingredient like tea like or orange sorbet with chamomile or mango sorbet with earl grey.
  • Offer pureed stewed fruit with custard or yoghurt.
  • Garnish your desserts with fresh fruits and mint leaves to add colour and a burst of freshness.

*2009 American Express MarketBrief – March