HHS' new programming is making nutrition education approachable

Nourished is a new HHS program featuring live demos of nutritious recipes that focus on making nutrition education more approachable to diners.
Peanut butter and blackberry jam Blended smoothie. | Photos courtesy of HHS.

When foodservice provider HHS launched Nourished, a nutrition education program, Jeneta Culton’s biggest fear was that the program would seem like Costco.

“I was terrified that it was going to be like Costco and nurses would walk up to our shift table and take a sample and walk away. I was terrified,” said Colton, who is the national director of patient experience for HHS.

But that turned out to be a non-issue. When the program first launched at HCA Houston, diners were quick to engage in conversation with the chefs and dietitians.

The Nourished program is centered around a simple nutritious recipe that’s easy for diners to recreate at home. The ingredients are showcased on a table, along with learning materials detailing why certain products were chosen. In addition, the programming features live demos with chefs showcasing how to make the recipe, along with samples for diners to try.

The goal behind the program is to provide education to prevent nutrition related illness and ultimately, re-admission, said Colton.

The team wanted to address information overload in patients and provide them with chefs and dietitians as a resource for their nutrition needs, said Colton.

The idea was to expand nutrition education beyond the four walls of the hospital.

“How do we get health and wellness to our patients, to our caregivers [and] to our communities at home that keep coming back to the hospital with comorbidities and medical nutrition-focused things,” said Colton.


Nourished table set up The Nourished program's first feature is Blended. 

So far, the team has showcased various smoothie recipes. And the theme behind the presentations has been a focus on cardiac wellness and heart healthy foods, said Colton.

The setup of the table was deliberate, showcasing different ingredients that go into the smoothie, with the hopes of making the recipe approachable.

“I feel like a lot of times as a dietitian when I'm teaching about produce, people are like, 'I don't know what to do with an avocado,'” said Colton.

So, for instance, the team showcased the whole carrots that go into the carrot cake smoothies.

The team decided to call the smoothies, “Blended” smoothies to create a more approachable name.

“We started with Blended instead of just smoothies,” said Colton, “Smoothies are so overwhelming, where you're like, 'What do I put this smoothie?' Instead of calling it a smoothie, we wanted to blend the ingredients together where it can be more healthy or it can be more decadent.”

And the team encouraged feedback from diners along the way, they even adjusted the carrot cake Blended smoothie recipe after realizing it had too much nutmeg.

The next recipe the program focused on was a peanut butter and blackberry jam Blended smoothie. Again, the goal was to make health and wellness seem approachable to diners.

“We're really focused on taking the fear away from smoothies,” said Colton, “That smoothie is showcasing how you can take health and wellness from things you have at home. You don't even have to go to the store, and it tastes just as good. Who doesn't relate to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

Colton said the initial challenge with launching the program was deciding how to market it.

“It's nourishing the body and mind with an educational demonstration. You know, how do you say that and still have people show up and know what that means?” she said.

So, the staff decided the best way to problem solve was just jump in to see what works. They started with open hours with three-hour blocks for the first two sessions.

“We also have to be mindful that patients are getting tests, they're transitioning between rooms,” said Colton. “So, if we didn't have a long enough window, we wouldn't be able to have a lot of patients come down and visit the table.”

But the initial demonstrations appeared to be effective in engaging diners as Colton noted they have received positive feedback regarding the program.

Moving forward, HHS plans to expand Nourished to more sites. And it will continue at HCA Houston as a monthly feature. In addition, the team hopes to demo other recipes such as entrees, using magnet heat.

The next menu focus for Nourished is Chill, which will feature homemade popsicle recipes.

“Patients that have issues swallowing, issues with [their] throat, issues with medication and having low intake,” said Colton. “They [can] have fresh and delicious ingredients versus high sugar popsicles.”



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