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Appetizers

There’s a good reason hospital food has a bad reputation. Tired, insipid-tasting menu items like orange Jell-O and iceberg lettuce salads have languished on hospital dining trays for decades. That’s all changing, at least for the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. With help from The Culinary Institute of America, San Antonio, the Goldsbury Foundation and H-E-B Grocery Company, the hospital recently launched a new culinary health and education program aimed
at reducing childhood obesity and improving access to nutritious food for patients and the community. The program takes a multidimensional approach that includes a teaching kitchen, a teaching and healing garden, and “Prescriptions for Produce,” a program that has physicians writing farmers’ market Rxs instead of prescriptions for pharmaceuticals.

The Environmental Working Group recently released a database that scores more than 80,000 grocery items based on nutrition, safety of ingredients and amount of processing. A free mobile app for smartphones is coming soon. Called “Food Scores: Rate Your Plate,” the database was developed with the hope of helping shoppers make “healthier, greener and cleaner food choices.” Products are rated on a scale of 1–10, with 1 being the best. Nutrition makes up about 70% of the score; concerns about ingredients, approximately 20%; and amount of processing, 10%.

New research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that, in 2012–2013, large chain restaurants began offering new food and beverage options with an average of 60 kilocalories less than traditional menu selections. Chain operators may be getting a jump on the expected new federal rules requiring large chain restaurants— including most fast-food places—to post calorie counts on menus. The findings appeared in the October 2014 issue of
the American Journal of Preventive
Medicine
.

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