Mayor's Fitness Council Challenges Austin Restaurants To Develop Healthy Entrées
Is fast food possible without the fat? Can you dine out on a diet? Find out.
January is traditionally the month when we make resolutions about healthier living: making a diet plan, signing up to use that new gym membership, hitting the hike and bike trail, and so on. The Mayor's Fitness Council has come up with a unique way to support the New Year's resolutions of health-minded Austinites. It's challenging the city's 3,800 food service outlets to help out by holding a Healthy Entrée Contest. All area eating establishments – from upscale to down-home, fine dining to fast food, and bistro to cafeteria – are encouraged to create healthy entrées based on guidelines developed by a team of nutrition experts who collaborated with local chefs, restaurateurs, and public health officials. Public health expert Dr. Jennifer Conroy explains the contest this way: "Eating well is about finding good and healthy food where we love to eat. So instead of asking people to change their patterns, we need to change how we prepare what's on the menu to fit people's habits and tastes and also make it healthy. That's the challenge we are asking our favorite restaurants to take on."
The contest, co-sponsored by Austin Fit Magazine, Whole Foods, and the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts, began in November, and entrée submissions are accepted through January. Restaurateurs and chefs interested in participating can find the criteria for submissions and enter the contest at www.austinfitmagazine.com/contest. There are five categories: Tex-Mex, Southern, fast food, kids' food, and other. Diners will be encouraged to vote for their favorite entrées online during February, and the winners from that voting will be judged by a panel of local chefs, food writers, and celebrities at a public event scheduled later this spring. Eleven area restaurants including Hoover's Cooking, Second Bar + Kitchen, Tom's Tabooley, and Austin Terrier have already entered the contest, and their entrées are pictured on the magazine's website. It should be interesting to see what Austin's culinary community comes up with in response to this challenge; here's to healthier dining out in 2012!