Heart-Healthy Eating, Whether You Dine In or Out
What’s cooking at Washington Hospital during February’s observance of American Heart Month?
As part of their efforts to encourage heart-healthy eating habits, the Food & Nutrition Services staff is promoting a “Dine In – Dine Out Healthy Eating” campaign that follows the dietary guidelines for heart health from the National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Institutes of Health.
Along with their regular menu of healthy meals for hospital patients and people who dine in the hospital Café, they are offering “Sweetheart Specials” every Tuesday, featuring additional new menu items that meet heart-healthy criteria. Plus, for the second year in a row, the hospital’s dietitians teamed up with a local Italian eatery located near the hospital, Strizzi’s Restaurant, to create heart-healthy meals for their clientele. They also are providing information and recipes so people can learn to prepare heart-healthy meals at home.
“It’s no secret that it’s much harder to eat a healthy meal when you’re dining out,” says Kimberlee Alvari, R.D., Director of Food & Nutrition Services at Washington Hospital. “Restaurant meals often include foods loaded with calories, fats and sodium. We want to get the message out that you can have heart-healthy restaurant meals that taste good.”
As they did last February, Strizzi’s will offer two main courses – wood-grilled salmon and grilled chicken breast with a roasted mango salsa -- on a special menu that specifies the dishes are “approved by Washington Hospital Registered Dietitians for meeting heart-healthy criteria.”
“Both entrees are lower in saturated fat than red meat,” Alvari says. “The fish is an especially good choice because the American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week for the benefits derived from the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, and most people don’t get enough Omega-3s in their diet.”
In addition to creating the main-course specials, the dietitians also worked with the restaurant staff on portion sizes and on replacing high-calorie, high-fat side dishes with healthier options.
“For their heart-healthy side dishes, Strizzi’s is offering pasta with meatless tomato-based marinara sauce and steamed fresh vegetables,” Alvari explains. “Strizzi’s indicated that their heart-healthy menu choices were best sellers last year.”
The Sweetheart Specials being offered in the hospital Café during February include:
- Chicken and asparagus tossed with penne pasta
- Baked salmon with Southeast marinade and couscous
- Wild rice and turkey casserole
- Antipasto-style penne pasta
“We had a very positive response to our Sweetheart Specials last year,” Alvari says. “In addition to the specials, we recently introduced a ‘Wake Up to Wellness’ breakfast menu on Wednesdays that offers heart-healthy options such as whole-grain pancakes with fruit topping, a grilled egg white and turkey-bacon sandwich on pannini, a whole-grain muffin sandwich with egg whites and low-fat cheese, and a breakfast bowl with egg whites, roasted potatoes and turkey sausage.”
The Café also now offers a new “Sinless” line of low-fat breakfast breads and muffins, including such taste-tempting delights as:
- Lemon Tuscan muffins made with olive oil
- Double-chocolate muffins (with low-fat chocolate)
- Almond-blueberry coffee cake
- Whole-grain flaxseed banana bread
“People who eat in the Café during February can pick up a ‘Heart-Smart’ card that accumulates credits for purchases of any Sweetheart Special, Wake Up to Wellness or Sinless bread item,” she adds. “When they have earned enough card credits, people can enter them into a drawing to win a $25 gift certificate from Strizzi’s.”
Alvari emphasizes that heart disease is still the number one cause of death in the United States.
“About once every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about once every minute, someone will die from a coronary event,” she explains. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons you have to fight heart disease. We are hoping that other restaurants in the Tri-City Voice area will join Strizzi’s and Washington Hospital in this effort to prevent heart disease.”
Learn More About Healthy Eating
Local restaurant owners who are interested in working with Washington Hospital dietitians to develop heart-healthy menus for next year’s American Heart Month observance can call the Food & Nutrition Services department at (510) 745-6540 or visit www.whhs.com/nutrition for more information.