LIHU‘E — Fryless Friday headlines the daily healthy food options at the G.N. Wilcox Memorial Hospital cafeteria.
“Eating healthier starts with healthier food choices,” said Katie Gallo, the community relations director at Wilcox Hospital, in a release. “At the Wilcox Hospital cafeteria, they are making it easier to take steps to make that healthy change by the extensive offering of better-for-you food choices.”
Greeted by a regular gathering of kupuna from the community who meet to eat and “solve the problems of the world,” Robin Lotu, the Wilcox Hospital Food Services supervisor, said they have been constantly upgrading their healthy food choices without sacrificing any of the local tastes people expect.
“People are conscious about eating healthy,” Lotu said. “And our Food Service staff is always working to make healthy options available.”
One of those changes include the re-organization of the cafeteria’s healthy snacks, which now take a more predominant location near the salad bar which overflows from its main station and onto a secondary station.
“We still carry the regular snacks,” Lotu said. “But it is now located in a less conspicuous area and we’ve limited the selections to just the larger sizes. Adjacent to the healthy snack area is a bread bar, which diners can enjoy fresh, or toasted.”
Lotu said the staff also posted nutritional information including fat, sodium, carbohydrates and protein, for the foods served by the cafeteria. The posted information is located near the entrance so diners can review what is in the food being served.
“It’s always good to know what we are putting into our bodies,” Lotu said. “Employees, patients and diners who patronize the cafeteria say it’s been helpful, interesting and sometimes eye-opening.”
Fryless Fridays is another of the trend toward healthy food choices, Gallo said.
“The Wilcox Hospital cafeteria has gone ‘fryless’ one day a week — Fridays —as a small and still delicious step along the healthier-eating path,” Gallo said. “They’re making it easy with great-tasting, healthier versions of old and new favorites like hot Soft Taco Salad with Roasted Pulled Chicken meat, or beans, and in lieu of the crunchy taco shells, the culinary staff uses steamed flour tortillas, Pulehu Chicken which required broiling and baking, Grilled Mahi with Caper Sauce, Chicken Papaya and Vegetarian Panini Sandwiches. The deep fryer is not used on Fridays.”
Lotu said instead of the fried chicken, a regular favorite, on Fryless Friday, the chicken is either baked or grilled.
“There is no frying,” Lotu said. “Instead, we create using boiling, grilling or baking.”
Derek Habu, the Wilcox Hospital Food and Nutrition Services manager, said his team decided to take the Fryless Friday beyond the cafeteria.
“We carried the idea across to our patient trays,” Habu said in the release. “So, on Fridays, instead of fried chicken, our patients get roasted chicken. Recently, a patient ordered cheeseburger and French fries for lunch, but because it was Friday, instead of French fries, we sent a bag of baked potato chips.”
Eliminating deep fried foods from menu offerings, replacing French fries with baked fries, or oven-roasted potatoes and offering baked chips with sandwich platter are just a few of the things Wilcox Hospital is doing to make a difference.
The Wilcox Hospital cafeteria is open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. and diners from the community are welcome to try the tasteful healthy options.
“We have something healthy, every day,” Lotu said. “Not just on Fryless Friday.”
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.