Chicago hospital cafeterias embrace healthy focus

Hospitals try to encourage healthy eating without forcing it.

March 21—The new 866,000-square-foot Elmhurst Memorial Hospital features a state-of-the-art emergency department, 259 private in-patient suites, the da Vinci robotic surgical system, the first Aquilion ONE 320-slice CT scanner in Illinois, and an Open Bore MRI.

To complement such cutting-edge services and technology, the hospital offers healthier food choices at its new Wildflower Cafe, the latest addition to a growing list of area hospital cafeterias that serve up tasty, nutritious meals.

Among the choices for Elmhurst visitors are turkey burgers with lower sodium content, sweet potato fries, a grilled portobello sandwich, a Mediterranean vegetable bake, vegetable stir fries, and mahi mahi with mushrooms and tomatoes. Also on the menu are whole wheat breads, low-fat yogurt and braised lentil pilaf.

"The plan of the hospital was to offer more selections of food and healthier and more cooked-to-order food," said James Roth, certified executive chef at the cafe.

Each food station features a widescreen digital monitor displaying a menu, calorie counts and fat content for the daily entrees and some of the daily specials. "We try to encourage people to eat healthfully without being preachy," Roth said.