Restaurants in Hartford get help creating healthier menu options

Restaurants in Hartford getting help in creating healthier menu options
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT
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HARTFORD, Conn. (WFSB) - Experts from UConn Health and community members are helping some restaurants in the city create healthier menu options.

They’re focusing on things less sodium and more fiber with the goal to help promote healthier lifestyles.

Channel 3 tagged along as restaurants got feedback.

“My favorite so far was the vegan plantain cups. It was *chefs kiss* so good. The flavor, the appearances, the aroma, it was fantastic,” said Shanika Williams, a community ambassador.

Shanika Williams is one of several community ambassadors helping Hartford restaurants improve their menus and find healthy alternatives.

“I like that it’s well seasoned, not too salty and it’s good to bring healthy food options to the community,” said Kevin Mercado, another community ambassador.

UConn Health experts have been working with restaurants in the capital city to modify ingredients being served in meals to include more whole grains, and less sodium.

“In order to reduce or decrease the prevalence of chronic diseases in the community, we need to make some changes in the way that we eat. We also have to make it accessible and affordable for people,” said Catalina Quesada, Community Education Specialist at UConn Health.

The hope is that small changes in diet can ultimately make a difference in the fight against chronic diseases like obesity.

“It’s really important to get these restaurants to just do the smaller parts of changing sodium levels, changing the type of butter they cook their food with,” said Jotty Estrella, a member of the city of Hartford Department of Health and Human Services.

Community ambassadors have been suggesting changes to restaurants like Mr. Pizza, and today they got to sample the modified menu items and provide feedback.

“We did BBQ chicken pizza with very low sodium on the BBQ sauce,” explains Kiriakos Christoforakis, owner of Mr. Pizza.

The goal: to promote a healthier Hartford with input from the community.

“It’s hard to change eating habits but just having other options for other people, I think, is just a step in the right direction,” said Erroljh Barrett, assistant community recreation counselor for the city of Hartford.

This collaboration has been going on for nearly a year.

Restaurants received feedback today and people will be able to enjoy the healthier options at restaurants soon.