As waist lines, portion sizes and food costs have grown, so, too, has Pierce County Gets Fit, a campaign that promotes fewer calories, sodium and fat in restaurant meals.
Pierce County Gets Fit, a partnership between MultiCare, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, the Washington Restaurant Association and Tacoma Pierce County YMCA, begins a year-long campaign on Monday, with 60 restaurants throughout Pierce County committed to offering customers four entrees that meet the program's guidelines for "healthy dining": up to 750 calories; less than 1,000 mg of sodium; and two servings of vegetables or one vegetable serving with a high-fiber side. Less than 30 percent of total calories can come from fat.
Last year, Pierce County Gets Fit featured 30 restaurants each serving one nutritionally tailored entree for one month.
Diners who order special entrees at 10 Get Fit partner restaurants -- from diners like Poodle Dog to fine-dining restaurants like Brix 25 to pubs like The Swiss -- will be eligible for prizes like a pedometer, water bottle or lunch box.
"Nutritional? Everyone thinks salad," said Anthony Anton, president of the Wahington Restaurant Association. "But your normal sandwich, if you leave off the mayo, can be less than 750 calories. Even a burrito, if you leave out the sour cream and it's not two-plates long, you'll be fine."
Here's a sample of entrees that meet Get Fit's guidelines: almond-crusted king salmon with smoked red bell pepper slaw, pot roast with mashed potatoes and braised veggies, chicken Florentine with brown rice and steamed veggies; pasta primavera with whole-wheat spaghetti cooked in low-sodium chicken stock; and filet mignon with steamed rice and veggies.
"It's our signature filet with a twist," said Stuart Moore, the chef at GoodFella's, the steakhouse inside Great American Casino in Lakewood. "We're not wrapping it in bacon like we do for our signature filet, and there's no compound butter on top like we normally do."
Of course, portion sizes are being reduced.
"They're pretty close to the same," Moore said of his four Get Fit entrees. "We didn't want to short-change anyone. People have pre-conceived notions of how large the portions should be. When you scale them back, they feel ripped off. When people go out to dinner, they want to indulge themselves. We want to make sure people can indulge themselves in a healthy way but at the same time not sacrifice quality."
Anton praised smaller portions.
"When you sit in the kitchen and watch the product as it comes back in, most customers throw away a third of what's on their plates," Anton said. "They wanted the perception of value when they ordered it, but they didn't eat it."