With locations in central Pennsylvania, the eight hospitals in the Geisinger Health system draw from a population that grew up on hearty, meat-centered meals. But gradually, Executive Chef Matthew Cervay has been able to get staff and patients on board with more plant-forward choices.
“I’ve taken steps to decrease meat and increase grains and legumes on the menu,” he says. “I now use about 2½ ounces of meat per serving, more as a flavor to enhance bowls and global dishes. It’s still a challenge to convert all my customers, but more are embracing the move.” As a bonus, plant-forward preps decrease food costs, Cervay says.
Thai flavors are a favorite of the chef’s, and he’s created a Quinoa Thai Bowl that contains 2½ ounces of chicken, sesame oil, quinoa, edamame, cucumbers, scallions and cilantro, with a scoop of red bell pepper, carrot and cabbage slaw. Thai Curry Shrimp with noodles and vegetables is another global prep, as are carnitas that stretch a small portion of pork with brown rice, pinto beans, kale, corn and crumbled queso blanco. The menu always offers a vegetarian version of each dish as well, with the option to substitute tofu or tempeh.
Geisinger’s mission is to support local farmers, and when in season, he swaps in produce from Pennsylvania suppliers for the fruits and vegetables he regularly gets from a broadliner.