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Dining Smart Community

UPMC Health Plan’s Dining Smart is a proven worksite nutrition program developed by our dietitians and health care professionals. UPMC’s hospitals and professional facilities have used Dining Smart for more than a decade to support a culture of healthy eating in the workplace.

Dining Smart Community extends this program to area organizations that are interested in promoting healthy dining to their staff and patrons. Program features include:

  • Offering menu items that meet Dining Smart guidelines. These foods contain fewer calories and less fat, sodium, and cholesterol. They are also rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Identifying these healthy items on the menu with a signature green icon.
  • Identifying vending machine beverages and snacks that meet nutritional guidelines with the green icon.
  • Posting educational materials around the facility containing practical tips for healthy dining anywhere.

Find Dining Smart Community in these locations

  • Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh – The museum’s Big Red Room Café offers a variety of healthy menu items, such as fresh salads made with locally sourced produce, homemade vegetarian wraps, fresh fruit cups, and low-fat yogurt parfaits.
  • Senator John Heinz History Center – In the Kidsburgh exhibit, families can grab healthy recipe cards which highlight the nutrients found in dairy products. Get your milk mustache on and check it out!

Dining Smart has developed a series of recipes that meet its nutritional guidelines. Here are some of the most popular recipes.

Tips for Eating Nutritiously

Planning a healthy meal is as simple as making sure each food group is represented on your plate: a source of protein, a grain, fruits and vegetables, and a source of calcium. The following can help you remember how to balance your meals and snacks:

  • Fill up on fruits and vegetables – Make at least half of your plate fruits and vegetables, fresh if possible, with little or no added fat, sugar, or salt. Getting a variety of colors (green, orange, and red) is an easy way to make sure you’re getting different nutrients. If you can only afford the canned variety, drain and rinse before using.
  • Go lean with protein – One quarter of your plate should include low-fat beef, skinless poultry, fish, beans, or tofu. Eating seafood as your protein source twice a week can help increase your intake of heart-healthy fats like omega-3.
  • One quarter of your plate should contain a grain or another carbohydrate-rich food – Choosing a whole-grain option (something with “whole grain” as the first item on the list of ingredients) will provide you with more fiber and help you feel more satisfied than a refined grain product. Bored with brown rice? Try a new grain like quinoa, farro, or barley, or legumes like black beans and chickpeas.
  • To meet your daily calcium needs, choose low-fat dairy products or fortified soy or almond milk alternatives – Nondairy sources of calcium include spinach, collard greens, and almonds.

When it comes to lunchtime, do you feel like your family is in a peanut-butter-and-jelly rut? Here’s how to instill some variety in your midday meal while also keeping it nutritious.

Switch up the bread

  • Look for 100 percent whole grain options when choosing bread.
  • Tired of whole wheat? Try 100 percent oat bread, or multigrain sprouted breads (found in the freezer section).
  • Instead of bread, wrap fillings in a tortilla, stuff a pita pocket, or even make lettuce “boats” out of large romaine leaves.

Spice up your condiments

  • Instead of adding high-fat mayonnaise or butter, try a different spread like avocado, hummus, or spicy mustard.
  • Hate to give up mayo? Try a low-fat version or just use less.

Step up to fruits and veggies

  • For school lunches, at the beginning of the week, wash and chop a variety of veggies and place them in individual containers for easy transport. Include crispy favorites like baby carrots, cucumber slices, and cherry tomatoes.
  • If you don’t like plain veggies, include dip options like reduced-fat ranch, yogurt, or hummus.
  • If you choose canned fruits, make sure they are canned in their own juices (no added sugar).
  • Keep pre-sliced apples and pears looking fresh with a dash of lemon juice to reduce browning.
  • Add frozen fruit to cottage cheese or yogurt for a protein-packed snack that will defrost by lunch time.

Serve up variety

  • Revitalize your peanut butter and jelly sandwich by trying almond butter, cashew butter, or sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. Buy 100 percent fruit spreads to avoid extra sugar.
  • If you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, do so wisely by packing an individual piece of dark chocolate or a small handful of dried fruit to control portion size.

Stay cool!

  • Remember to keep food cool.
  • Make sure you have access to refrigeration for any lunches that contain dairy or meat products.