Our menus are getting healthier.

On Wednesday, July 1, we are taking another step forward in efforts to improve the quality and healthfulness of the food we provide to patients, employees and guests by introducing new, healthier menu options at our hospitals.

Fried foods are out; balanced meals are in

Since November 2014, we’ve removed all fryers and deep-fried products and created healthier check-out options, like replacing giant cookies with bananas near cash registers.

Nutrition Services teams designed Wellness Meal options that are complete, nutritionally balanced meals, such as whole wheat pasta with grilled chicken and low-sodium marinara sauce with steamed broccoli, fresh fruit and skim milk.

And, we’re working to improve nutrition labeling and marketing.

Couscous, jerk chicken and more

This month, patients and cafeteria diners will start to see new menu options. While offerings may vary across sites, they’ll have a common emphasis on whole wheat and will be lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium.

But healthier options don’t have to taste like cardboard.

Watch for new menu items, which may include glazed pork medallion with couscous primavera, jerk chicken with yucca, beans and corn or cajun chicken bisque. At the grill, you may see salmon with mango on flatbread or cilantro chicken on a multigrain bun.

Patient menus will feature whole grain options wherever feasible and new menu items like a healthy breakfast sandwich and a flatbread pizza.

“Our teams will continue to test and adjust menu options and recipes,” says Trever Sterba, Nutrition Services director.

“This isn’t a one-and-done process. Food, menus, tastes, nutritional requirements all change, and we’re excited to help lead the way in driving a healthier future for our diners, whether they are our patients, visitors or employees.”

All of this nutrition improvement work is part of our effort to follow the Hospital Healthier Food Initiative guidelines set by Partnership for a Healthier America. We were the first Minnesota-based health care system to join the partnership.

“This work typically takes three years, but the entire system Nutrition Services team has been diligent about working together and staying focused in order to bring these new options to diners in under a year,” says Trever.