Healthy Options program expands

Independent Health Foundation’s Healthy Options program expands to include more restaurants, re-designed website and a new partnership

BUFFALO, N.Y. (June 6, 2012) – The Independent Health Foundation announced Wednesday it’s expanding the Healthy Options program to include new restaurants, a re-designed website and a new partnership with D’Avolio Olive Oils and Vinegars to help Western New Yorkers eat healthy whether dining out or at home.

The announcement was made at the new D’Avolio’s Kitchen on Main Street in Williamsville, where chefs from two Healthy Options restaurants cooked their signature healthy dishes.

“The Independent Health Foundation’s Healthy Options program has been successful and we’ve seen a great impact in our community, but we know the work isn’t done,” said Carrie Meyer, executive director, Independent Health Foundation. “Together, as a community, we can become healthier. Expanding to new restaurants, redesigning our website to make it easier to use and more informative and also encouraging people to cook healthy at home can help us all be healthier.”

Chef Krista Van Wagner
Chef Krista Van Wagner, Curly’s Bar and Grill, cooks a signature Healthy Option entrée of fish filet, roasted fennel, oven dried tomatoes, julienne vegetables, lemon and dill, baked in parchment.
Chef Andrew Sempert
Chef Andrew Sempert, BW’s BBQ cooks the restaurant’s signature Healthy Option – chicken breast dinner, with mashed sweet potatoes and tomato salad.

In 2004, the Independent Health Foundation created the Healthy Options Buffalo program to help our community make more informed decisions when dining out and help address the high rates of stroke and heart disease prevalent in Western New York. Nearly 24 percent of New Yorkers are obese, according to a study, F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies are Failing in America 2008. Locally, Erie County residents experience 33 percent more heart disease death than the average U.S. citizen, according to the Research Center for Stroke & Heart Disease at The Jacobs Neurological Institute. And diabetes affects approximately 140,000 children and adults in Western New York, according to the American Diabetes Association.

In 2007, the Healthy Options program expanded and was integrated into the Taste of Buffalo, and remains the only food festival in the United States to require that all participating restaurants offer a healthy option item. Restaurants have embraced this requirement, creating great tasting and healthy dishes to offer at their eateries all year round. Most importantly, the Taste of Buffalo Fan Favorite in 2011 was a Healthy Option.

Healthy Options, which are considered lower in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, are now offered in nearly 90 Buffalo area restaurants.

“It takes all of us working together to create a healthy community,” Meyer said. “We encourage you to check out our new website, to see if your favorite restaurant is participating. If it's not, let us know and we'll reach out to them."

Chef Krista Van Wagner from Curly’s Bar Grill, Lackawanna, said offering healthy dishes is a priority at Curly’s. At Wednesday’s event, she cooked “En Papillote” entrée, which is fish filet, roasted fennel, oven dried tomatoes, julienne vegetables, lemon and dill, baked in parchment.

“I believe you are what you eat,” Van Wagner said. “Here at Curly’s we work with fresh, quality ingredients, which are the key to healthy eating. We strive to accomplish this daily with innovative specials and please many guests with gluten free allergies, as well. Our customers want to eat healthy and fresh and thank us daily for our menu items and informative dietary information.”

Chef Andrew Sempert from BW’s Smokin Barrels BBQ, Blasdell cooked a chicken breast dinner with sweet mashed potatoes and fresh tomato salad. Sempert also shared his amazing weight loss story, losing 322 pounds in the past 2 1/2 years after committing to a healthy eating and fitness program.

Cooking at home can also be healthy and fun to do. Under the new partnership with D’Avolio’s, Independent Health members will also receive a 10 percent discount on all store products, with a portion of the sales invested back into the Foundation. Members can take advantage of the discount by showing their Independent Health member ID at any D'Avolio or Prima Oliva location.

“We’re big fans of the Healthy Options program the Independent Health Foundation has,” said D’Avolio’s owner Dan Gagliardo. “Independent Health is the only health plan to have this type of program where they’re getting out in the community and providing the tools for people to eat healthy. And, because our product is tested and is proven to be good for you and has medicinal benefits, we thought it was a natural fit. We’re excited about the partnership and the impact we can have on the community by working together.”

For more information on the Healthy Options program, go to Established in 1992, the Independent Health Foundation works to improve the health and well being of Western New York residents through awareness, prevention and education programs focused on community health priorities. For more information on the Foundation’s activities, visit the Foundation's web page.