Things are cooking up healthy in Warren County restaurants! As part of a New Jersey state grant project, and an eXtension i-Three Issue Corps initiative, Choose Healthy Warren County, 22 healthy menu options have been approved to date at eight Hackettstown restaurants. Throughout the late spring and early summer, participating restaurants submitted recipes for potential healthy choices. After being entered into the nutrition analysis program Nutritionist ProTM, recipe changes were suggested to meet the nutrition criteria. This is where things got tricky! It isn’t always easy for a chef to make changes to their recipes, no matter how small. Some chefs took longer than others to mull this over, but in the end, most saw the benefits they were providing to their patrons. A little gentle nudging didn’t hurt either. Persistence on our end eventually paid off.
A rush for approvals took place in early July to get options approved and menus marked for inclusion in the town wide Restaurant Week. Choose Healthy participated by providing promotional support for the event and in turn, patrons who chose a healthy menu option during the week received an extra chance to win one of several prizes. Press releases were written, radio interviews given and community calendars were filled to promote the week-long event. Further support to the Choose Healthy restaurants was given by purchasing gift certificates as some of the prizes. After the event, an extra plug for Choose Healthy was possible when the winners received their gift certificates with the information on the program. Overall, chefs are definitely cooking up more healthy items these days in Warren County, New Jersey!