Getting it to go: 2010 Portability Study

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Healthy Takeout

This month, the foodservice staff at Paradise Valley Hospital in Phoenix, plan to begin an ambitious program to help diabetic and cardiac patients eat more healthfully. Jean Revard, director of foodservice and environmental services for the hospital, said the department will begin selling prepackaged meals specifically designed for these groups.

“We do a small amount of grab-and-go salads, sandwiches, fruit plates, etc.,” says Revard. “In the last few months we have done cooking demos for a diabetes class and cardiac rehab class for members of our community who are also previous patients. The feedback we received in both classes was they wanted us to make packaged dinners that would meet the requirements for one dinner for a diabetic and a dinner for a cardiac rehab person.”

The cooking demos came out of discussions that Revard and Juan Carranza, the hospital’s executive chef, had with director of the diabetes education program.

“They wanted to know if someone could come in and show them what they can do to make meals more healthful,” says Carranza. “About once a month I will do a cooking demo for about an hour.”

For example, he adds, one class dealt with picnic foods that would be appropriate for cardiac and diabetic patients on the Fourth of July. Carranza made some potato salad with red skin potatoes and Italian dressing in place of mayonnaise, healthy fajitas on the grill with yogurt instead of sour cream, and grilled fruit kabobs using pineapple, watermelon and strawberries.

“To us it is pretty simple, but it really wowed the class,” he explains. Adds Revard: “The kabob also represents one serving of fruit, so it helped to teach them about portion size.”

With the new program, cardiac and diabetic patients will be able to call in and place orders for prepared meals, perhaps a week’s worth at a time, and then arrange for a pick up time.

“I think what we are going to be able to do is have them call our room service office number because that phone is always manned during the day,” she says.
Revard explains that from a planning standpoint the new program will not require much work.

“We have a Health For Life program in our healthcare system, and we already have a number of items being served in our cafeteria,” she says. “We are just going to take what we’re already doing and expand on it. We have about 30 recipes, but we’ll keep coming up with more. We don’t want to keep repeating menus. The ‘wow’ of this is that it’s new, and we don’t want to lose that.”

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