Power of Choice: Turn a New Leaf Program
Submitted by Champion, Maryanne Keating
Cheshire County Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) is partnering with area restaurants to make it easier to choose healthier options when dining out. When dining out, it can be challenging to eat healthy. When compared with home cooked meals, eating on the go tends to be higher in saturated fat, salt and calories.
Cheshire County HEAL is launching the state’s first county-wide healthy dining initiative, called Turn a New Leaf. It will help all of us identify healthier options starting with four participating local dining facilities: Champion Fred Girard’s Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth Hitchcock Keene’s Center Court Café, Luca Paris’ Luca’s Mediterranean Café, Mark Seidler’s Port Authority Café, and The Community Kitchen.
Healthy menu items will be marked with a logo containing a green elm leaf and red heart logo – the elm leaf, of course, is a reference to Keene being the Elm City. Thank you to Champion designer, Jan Kobeski (who also designed the Champions logo) and Gem Graphics who both helped to make the logo and messages fun, bright and informative.
“Turn a New Leaf really does help diners make better choices, because it’s simple. There are no complicated numbers to understand-just look for one, two, or three hearts”, says Rudy Fedrizzi who is also helping with this initiative. Research shows that when restaurant patrons learn which menu items are healthier, they are more apt to choose them.
To participate in the program, dining establishments each provided recipes for analysis by graduate students in Keene State College’s dietetic internship program this year. The interns developed nutrition criteria to help identify healthier menu items, make suggestions to help chefs meet the criteria and establish a standard among restaurants participating in the initiative. The criteria was formulated with U.S. Department of Agriculture dietary guidelines in mind. They address calories, saturated fat, trans fat, salt, fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
The Turn a New Leaf program shows that together, restaurants and their patrons can work with one another to become the healthiest community in the nation. In the coming months, more restaurants will be added to the program. If you know of a dining establishment who would like to participate in this program, please contact HEAL Coordinator, Maryanne Keating or call 354-5454 ext 2369.