These days, it's almost routine for supermarkets to offer consumers healthy food options under one program or another. Heinen's Fine Foods took a different route by teaming up with the Cleveland Clinic to develop and co-brand the “Healthy Appetite” program.
“Customers at Heinen's for some time have been saying we want some healthy alternatives,” said Tom Heinen, one of the owners of the 17-store chain. “It's not that we didn't have healthy alternatives. Now we can brand and label it.”
Nutrition experts at the clinic developed the criteria for the foods, and analyzed dishes prepared by Heinen's chefs. On any given day, shoppers find about a dozen fully cooked dishes in the prepared food cases, clearly labeled Healthy Appetite. The logo assures customers the entrees and side dishes were prepared according to the clinic's guidelines, which set limits for fat, cholesterol and sodium content, and prohibit trans fats.
Stores also provide shoppers tear-off sheets that detail nutrition information for individual dishes. In total, stores have 45 entrees and side dishes, all prepared in store kitchens, that they rotate through the gourmet case seasonally. Popular dishes include oven-roasted ginger salmon, retailing for $14.99 a pound, and steamed sugar snap peas seasoned with sesame seeds and sesame oil, $5.99 a pound, said Jacki Novotny, an executive chef at Heinen's.
The program “has been very well received,” Novotny said.
Producing more healthful food didn't cause turmoil in store kitchens, she said. To meet the program's guidelines, chefs made simple changes like cutting down on the olive oil and salt, and using more whole grains.
Customers who prefer to cook healthful dishes in their own homes can pick up Healthy Appetite recipe cards at self-service kiosks.