In this week’s nutrition news: Restaurants offer smaller, cheaper meals, Mario Batali greens up his restaurants and Chicago farmers’ markets are set to start taking food stamps.
Mario Batali’s Restaurants Go Green
The average restaurant produces more than 50,000 pounds of garbage per year, almost all of which could be recycled or composted. Our own Iron Chef Mario Batali is seeking to change this statistic by greening up all of his restaurants. I dined at Mario Batali’s Tarry Lodge last year, but didn’t notice the green measures: He banned all bottled water and started a full-scale recycling and composting program. Check out this amazing slideshow to see what he’s doing to go greener (the 12-foot vertical garden rocks!)
The Dangers of Crash Diets
Looking to slim down in time for swimsuit season? Steer clear of fasts, detox programs and cleanses — they’re dangerous to your health. Not only are they extremely low in calories, vitamins and minerals, they also slow your metabolism which can eventually lead to weight gain. Crash diets can also weaken your immune system and increase the chances of dehydration, heart palpitations and cardiac arrest. Is losing a few pounds quickly really worth the risk?
Farmers’ Markets Accepting Food Stamps
Chicago residents can use food stamps to buy soda and chips, but starting in May they can also purchase fresh produce at the local farmers’ markets. Numerous other states, like Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut, have recently initiated similar programs and have seen huge success. Making fresh, wholesome foods more available to those who don’t have many choices on where to shop is a step in the right direction.
In honor of Thursday’s Earth Day holiday, recycle your leftovers. It’s a way to reduce your carbon footprint and food waste. According to registered dietitian Jackie Newgent, between 25 to 40 percent of the food we purchase goes into the garbage. So next time you have leftover greens, meat or grains, create a tasty soup or wrap it in a tortilla. How do you recycle your food?
Restaurants Offering Slimmed-Down Portions
My daughter insisted on eating at California Pizza Kitchen (her new favorite restaurant) for her birthday dinner. I was impressed to see appetizer-sized menu options with only a few hundred calories a dish (as opposed to some dishes that rack up more than 1,000 calories a plate). The Cheesecake Factory and BJ’s Restaurants are also among those offering trimmed-down portions. Initial marketing studies show that these mini-menu options are profitable — a win-win situation for everyone. Have you tried these smaller plate options?
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »