Category: Restaurants

When Kids Eat At Restaurants, The Food Is Not As Healthy For Children As You Think

May 8th, 2017 by

EatREAL Releases List of Seattle’s Healthiest Restaurants

January 26th, 2017 by

The United States Healthful Food Council Releases REAL25 Seattle, the City’s Most Healthful and Sustainable Restaurants

Press Contact: Melissa Rouse,, 808.960.4593

Seattle, WA (January 17th, 2017) – As part of its efforts to help decrease diet-related disease, the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC) has released a list of Seattle’s 25 most healthful and environmentally sustainable restaurants. Also knownreal-25-logo-inner-black2xas the Seattle REAL25, the initiative is part of the Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) program, and is aimed at making it easier for consumers to make better choices when dining away from home.  The USHFC has teamed up with Tasteful App to make finding good quality food easier, for tourists and locals alike.


How Healthy Pizza Became a Reality in Quick Service

December 21st, 2016 by

Pizza brands are finding ways to deliver the cleaner ingredients and better-for-you options customers are craving.

Originally from QSR Magazine

By Mary Avant

There are certain words that come to mind whenever pizza is mentioned: indulgent, delicious, comforting, crowd-pleasing. And now another, perhaps surprising, one is entering the lexicon: healthy. That’s because a growing number of limited-service pizza concepts are making a concerted effort to provide guests with the better-for-you options they’ve been lusting after for years.

“People want healthier choices. They want to know more about the ingredients being used,” says Nicole Quartuccio Ring, vice president of nutrition strategy for restaurant nutritional analysis experts Healthy Dining Finder. “And it’s not just a fad. This is going to become the new way consumers eat and choose the restaurants they go to.”

With organic dough, seasonal produce, and a variety of veggie toppings, &pizza wants pizza to be a healthy, everyday meal option. &PIZZA / JAMES C. JACKSON

But rather than low-carb or low-calorie options, today’s pizza brands are creating their own definitions of what healthy pizza is, namely by cleaning up their ingredient lists, providing a broader range of ingredients, and allowing for more customization. In 2015, for example, Papa John’s began spending a reported $100 million a year to wipe its ingredient list of artificial colors, corn syrup, and a long list of other historically unhealthy options.

Smaller chains like New York–based Skinny Pizza are crafting entire concepts around this definition of healthier pizza. Skinny Pizza uses natural flour free of potassium bromate—an ingredient banned in Europe and several other countries—as well as organic tomato sauce made fresh in house. It also bakes its antibiotic- and added hormone–free chicken rather than frying it; uses nitrate-free pepperoni; and sources all-natural sausage, while its veggies are farm-fresh and local when possible.

“Almost every restaurant in this space has vegan options, whole grains. They’re making their sauces from scratch; they’re using less prepared products,” Quartuccio Ring says. “They’re aware of and trying to deliver on that transparency of providing more healthful options.”

San Francisco–based Hot Italian Pizza Bar is so confident in its better-for-you pizza approach that it’s deemed itself the #healthiestpizza in the country. As the first and only U.S. pizza brand to receive a REAL Certified Food Award from the United States Healthful Food Council, the brand is committed to providing clean, fresh, and sustainable ingredients. It also uses an organic house-milled flour to craft its dough, which it then ferments and proofs for 24–48 hours to break down proteins and make it easier to digest.

Not only are brands using healthier toppings, sauces, and other ingredients, but they’re also expanding the number of topping options. At Washington, D.C.–based &pizza, for example, the menu has 16 veggie options ranging from pickled red onion to roasted peppers, as well as 26 vegan toppings.

The fast casual also guarantees that products are MSG-free; dough is organic; produce is fresh and adjusted for seasonality; and dairy is free of added hormones. &pizza also crafts its own soda without the use of high-fructose corn syrup.

“Those looking for a healthier meal who don’t want to compromise on flavor or quality are some of our largest brand advocates, because there hasn’t been a lot of really craveable food that’s also cleaner and healthier in nature,” says founding CEO and president Michael Lastoria.

Like many others in the space, &pizza also gives diners the opportunity to customize their orders. Quartuccio Ring says providing customers with as many choices as possible helps them make the decision about what is healthy to them. Even further, allowing diners to watch the pizza-building process gives the impression that the product is fresh and therefore more healthful.

But as many limited-service brands have seen over the years, offering cleaner ingredients and better-for-you options can be pricy for both restaurants and their guests. The average Skinny Pizza, for example, rings in between $9 and $11, and owner Joseph Vetrano says some of the cheeses it uses cost the brand as much as $4.99 per pound.

“We try not to pass the costs all onto the consumer, so our margins get cut,” he says. “But we feel as the market is growing, a lot of our buying power is increasing and we can negotiate better.”

While local products and sustainable proteins are more expensive than canned or preserved ingredients, Hot Italian balances quantity with quality. “Instead of having 20 slices of pepperoni, you can put 10 or 15 that are enough to cover the pizza, and the price is still good,” says Fabrizio Cercatore, Hot Italian’s cofounder.

At &pizza, higher AUVs and foot traffic allow the brand to spend more money and time offering these premium, healthier options, but Lastoria acknowledges that not all pizza brands can or want to do the same.

Even if they do make the effort, there’s always the risk that marketing healthier pizza could scare off customers who fear that “healthy” equates to “not flavorful.”

“We don’t want to turn guests away that are looking for the most delicious or the best pizza in town, because we believe wholeheartedly that we do offer that,” Lastoria says. Instead, it is an added bonus for those who want to “look under the hood.”

That’s why &pizza’s healthy initiatives are less of a marketing ploy for the brand and more about creating a feeling of healthfulness.

“Our goal has always been to make pizza more of a lunch option, as well as a dinner option or anytime option; to provide a pizza that is cleaner and lighter and more refreshing that doesn’t weigh you down,” he says. “That in and of itself has been the biggest selling point.”

REAL Certified Restaurants Work to Create Healthier Dinning Out Options Throughout the Nation

December 12th, 2016 by

Originally posted by Salud America!

There are many options for dining out these days, but which restaurants offer healthier and more sustainable options for families?

REAL, standing for Responsible, Epicurean, and Agricultural Leadership, is a nationally recognized mark of excellence for food and foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship.  The United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC), established in 2012, works to help restaurants become REAL Certified in three areas that show conscious health for the environment and the people.

The goal is to make sure healthy choices are highlighted and offered, and that unhealthy options are limited or changed for families dining out.

Through this certification, healthy changes are being made in restaurants all over the nation by offering consumers dining options that promote more fruit and vegetable consumption and highlighting healthy restaurant menus and sustainable food practices.

How does it work?

Registered Dieticians (RDs) work with restaurants or foodservice providers to take them through a 100-point scale of key performance indicators (KPIs) on nutrition and sustainability, which include everything from maximizing fruit and vegetable options, whole grain options and access to free water, to reducing deep-fried foods, added sugars, and default sugary beverages on kid’s menus.

On the agriculture end, the restaurants earn points if they serve local or regional products, or if they are making efforts to use non-GMO or USDA certified organic options, seasonal options, and sustainably sourced fish products.

Various restaurants across the United States are joining the REAL movement, hoping to be noticed for their good measures, values, and healthier food options. Once restaurants become REAL certified, they are promoted through the organizations geo-targeted website, Certification offers restaurants bragging rights that a third party has reviewed and certified their efforts in sustainability and nutritional content.

Where are some of these healthy restaurant changes happening?

A healthier marketing campaign, REAL 25, created by the Tasteful app and USHFC was launched in February 2016 in Austin,TX (35.1% Latino) to help promote the top 25 healthiest restaurants for major cities across America.

Also, in Tennessee (5.2% Latino), where 33.8% of the population is overweight and the state is known to be the second in the nation with highest rates of Type 2 Diabetes, for the first time ever, the Tenn. local health department has joined forces with USHFC to create a healthier environment of restaurant choices for those dining out.

Ensuring healthier dining out options is important for many families, especially Latino families, who often are at risk for higher rates of diabetes and heart disease.

Schools can even get REAL certified, like the K-12 in Boulder, Colorado!

Nikkole Turner, the Tennessee Project Manager from USHFC, explained that restaurants that become certified are able to have bragging rights to explain to patrons that they have partnered with the state of Tenn. to help reduce diet-related disease and obesity within the state.

Although the Tenn. Health Department is the first health department that USHFC has partnered with, they plan on expanding this concept of partnership with other health departments across the nation to increase healthy options in restaurants and reduce diet-related diseases.

“We would love to work with health departments in other parts of the country and we’re definitely pursuing expanding what we’ve done here in Tenn. to other areas that could benefit from the work that we’re doing. If they [cities/states] have high statistics of diabetes, we know that this is the next step.”

Hot Italian — a healthy type of pizza

November 1st, 2016 by



Originally posted on The California Aggie


Written by: Betty Wu —

Restaurant offers variety of pizza made from local, organic ingredients

As an international student studying in the United States, I must admit that I have mixed feelings about American cuisine. Juicy hamburgers, cheesy pizzas and extra-large Cokes are all part of my U.S. guilty-pleasures list. I always feel satisfied when eating these foods, and I feast like there’s no tomorrow.

But the pleasure comes at a price; after eating, I need to spend a solid two-hour session at the gym. Luckily, I recently discovered a healthier alternative which satiates all of these guilty pleasures and saves me from a sweaty workout.

I first spotted Hot Italian — the newly-opened Italian pizza restaurant located in Davis Commons, downtown at 500 1st St.  — at the end of Spring Quarter 2016. Last Saturday, I finally had the opportunity to try out this new restaurant and learned about the owner’s endeavor to uphold the Davis community’s healthy and environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

Hot Italian is a REAL-certified restaurant, which is a “nationally recognized mark of excellence for food and foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship,” according to the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC).

Hot Italian is the first pizzeria in the United States that has been REAL certified by the USHFC. Not only does the restaurant use fresh, organic ingredients, but its furniture is also made from mostly repurposed materials, such as recycled paper and bamboo.

Hot Italian changes its menu depending on the season and is currently on its fall and winter menu. Customers have about 15 different choices of pizza, including a vegan option, and several choices of salad and desserts. They also serve beer and wine, either produced locally or imported from Italy.

Since it was a chilly Saturday morning, I ordered “Sozzani,” a salad with locally-produced baby spinach and pear; “Materazzi,” Hot Italian’s take on pepperoni pizza; “Gattuso,” a fall special pizza featuring pumpkin; and “Zucchero,” a dessert with Italian hazelnut cream and pear.

Fun fact about the menu: each dish is named after a “hot Italian.” For example, “Sozzani” is named after Franca Sozzani, an Italian journalist and editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia since 1988; “Materazzi” is named after Marco Materazzi, an Italian soccer star.

“Customers sometimes have fun guessing whose names are on the menu,” said Andrea Lepore, a 1992 UC Davis alum and owner of Hot Italian.

All of the dishes I ordered had colorful and aesthetically-pleasing combinations of different fresh ingredients, which made for a perfect Instagram post for all my friends to envy as they studied for midterms. Pepperoni has always been my favorite pizza, and I noticed that they added pitted olives on “Materazzi,” which is a great revamp of the greasy cheese and pepperoni that you’d normally find at other pizza restaurants.

My personal favorite would be “Zucchero.” Fresh out the oven, the warm dessert made me forget the cold rain showering outside. The sweetness was perfect for me, as I find most American desserts are too sweet, and I absolutely loved the smooth texture of the hazelnut cream mixed with chocolate powder.

The pizzas are about $15 each. For UC Davis students, the restaurant offers a lunch special: $5 per slice on weekdays. You can pre-order pizza from Hot Italian by phone or by downloading the Hot Italian app. Hot Italian also provides delivery service via the Joyrun app. For more information and to view the menu, please visit the Hot Italian website at



REAL25 Chicago: the USHFC lists the 25 most healthful and sustainable restaurants in Chicago

May 19th, 2016 by

The United States Healthful Food Council is excited to announce REAL25 Chicago – our list of the 25 most healthful and sustainable restaurants in Chicagoland!  It’s no mystery that the Windy City is home to some of the best restaurants in the nation, and it is our goal to help you find those restaurants that have your wellbeing, and the wellbeing of the planet, in mind.

Without further ado, here are the newest members of the REAL25 community, in no particular order:


A Healthy Children’s Diet: How Fast Food Brands Are Brainwashing Our Kids

December 17th, 2015 by

A child’s formative years are so very important to their future development and it’s about more than what they learn in school, it’s also about what they learn at home. But, as is usually the case, children are a lot more perceptive than we give them credit for and things like branding and television ads can have a huge influence on them.

For example, a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown that children prefer the taste of foods if they believe those items came from a fast food chain, even things like carrots and milk.

Taziki’s Holiday Offer

November 3rd, 2015 by

Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe was the first national franchise to gain REAL Certification – a year later, they are still setting the standard for healthful living. As the holiday season begins, Taziki’s is offering a promotion to get you and your loved ones eating REAL through the festivities. For every $25 gift certificate purchased, you get a $5 gift certificate for your own use!



July 12th, 2015 by

Louisville is a city known for offering its residents with an impressively large variety of delicious foods. From authentic Ethiopian cuisine to the best of sushi buffets, this city has it all. And now Louisville is adding something else to its list of dining options. Introducing the country’s first restaurant franchise to become nationally recognized for its food service nutrition and sustainability concepts: Taziki’s Mediterranean Café.

The rapidly growing restaurant chain opened the doors to its first Kentucky location right here in Louisville last week with the help of Jeff and Lisa Wilkins, owners of the chain’s new location, and the support of Louisville’s dedicated cult of foodies and healthy lifestyle advocates.

“Louisville’s residents are falling in love with our menu full of original chef-driven recipes prepared daily from fresh ingredients,” Lisa Wilkins says of the restaurant’s immediate success. “Taziki’s believes in bringing Southern hospitality to its delicious Mediterranean dishes, giving families healthy alternatives when dining out.”

And it’s clear that healthy eating is Taziki’s main priority when conducting business. The restaurant chain just became the first to achieve REAL Certification, meaning it is officially certified under the United States Healthful Food Council for carrying out trusted methods of Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL).

And for a young growing company located in just 13 states across America so far, that’s pretty impressive.

And Taziki’s menu alone is pretty impressive too! Guests have the option of choosing from the menu of single meals or from the restaurant’s list of family meals which are designed to feed four people, making this a perfect choice for on-the-go families who are looking for something more nutritious than fast food. Carryout is offered along with a uniquely modern dining room decorated with elaborate stone and wooden fixtures making this the perfect setting for a casual date or meeting.

Taziki’s Mediterranean Café is now open in the Middletown Commons Shopping Center at 13317 Shelbyville Road. For more information on its menu and franchise opportunities, check out Taziki’s official website!

Photo courtesy of Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe. 

Memphis foodservice operators recognized for contributions to health

July 8th, 2015 by

Original article posted here

Memphis foodservice operators recognized for contributions to health

July 6, 2015

Eat REAL, joining forces with the Tennessee Department of Health and the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC), has established the first REAL Certified organization in Memphis, the organizations announced in a press release. Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) is a national program that recognizes foodservice operators committed to holistic nutrition and environmental stewardship, the announcement said. The program’s goal is to combat diet-related diseases.

The first REAL Certified foodservice establishments recognized in Memphis include: Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Cafe Eclectic, City Market, The Farmer, Fuel Cafe, Hog & Hominy, Lettuce Eat Salad Co.,McEwen’s, Porcellino’s, Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, Trolley Stop Market, Tsunami and Two Vegan Sistas.

“Memphis is a city rich in local food culture and community, and these eating establishments are helping shift the environment towards a more healthful and sustainable model,” said Eat REAL Tennessee Project Manager Nikkole Turner.

Eat REAL, supported through a grant from the Tennessee Health Department, also serves as a community outreach platform, engaging and educating the public on nutrition and healthy dietary choices.

Establishments are evaluated via the REAL index and assessed by registered dieticians. They are credited with points across a range of criteria such as the use of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy preparation methods, moderate portion sizes, unsweetened beverages, healthy children’s options and sustainable sourcing. satisfying the requirements are awarded and recognized as REAL Certified.