Conn. hospital “certifies” healthy local restaurant dishes

Plow to Plate Signature Dish Initiative shows commitment to community health.

May 15—New Milford (Conn.) Hospital has partnered with 15 local restaurants as part of its Plow to Plate Signature Dish initiative. For this effort, participating restaurants offer a signature healthy dish or dishes (appetizer, entree, dessert) on the their menu.

Participating restaurants display a framed Plow to Plate Signature Dish commitment certificate signed by both the restaurant owner and Executive Director of New Milford Hospital Deborah Weymouth signifying the partnership’s commitment to community health. The dishes must meet the hospital’s nutrition guidelines for its Plow to Plate program, which the hospital's café follows. Those guidelines include:

• The dish should incorporate vegetable whole grain, or fruit (goal for 2/3 of plate plant based foods)

• No processed foods or factory-raised meats; lean meat choices (goal of 1/3 of plate or less)

• No deep-fried foods or meats

• When possible, locally sourced ingredients

• Utilize fresh herbs and spices for seasoning when needed

• Limit added salt

• No oversized portions

• Focus on quality not quantity

In some cases, an entire Plow to Plate restaurant menu is devoted to this initiative.

"By taking better care of ourselves and making healthy choices in food, everyone in the community is going to benefit in the long run," Weymouth said in a press release.

New Milford Hospital earned a 2012 gold level Connecticut Quality Improvement Award (CQIA) Innovation Prize for its healthy eating efforts. The Plow to Plate concept, established in 2006 with New Milford Hospital as one of its founders, is now regarded as a model of healthy eating and community partnership. New Milford Hospital offers a Signature Dish coupon book at community and hospital events and hopes to compile a Signature Dish recipe book.