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Registered Dietitian Approved partnership aims to educate and enable employees, students, patients and visitors to make healthy food and beverage choices.

By Ann Lokuta MPH, RD, associate instructor, Wellness & Integrative Health

Registered Dietitian (RD) Approved is a partnership between University of Utah Health Nutrition Care Services and University of Utah Health Wellness & Integrative Health. The RD Approved mission is to educate and enable employees, students, patients and visitors to make healthy food and beverage choices at all U food service venues. The first RD Approved dish was served at the main hospital cafeteria hot bar in May 2017 at a discounted price of $5.25. The initiative hasn’t slowed down since (and the meals are still only $5.25). RD Approved encourages and empowers people to try new options that they may have not considered before ­­— ultimately aiming to make the nutritious choice, the easy choice.

Charred shrimp and cauliflower romesco, Dijon salmon with roasted beet salad and eggplant parmesan, are a few of the customer favorite RD Approved dishes that rotate through the hospital cafeteria menu daily. Every Thursday, registered dietitians Anne Taylor and Ann Lokuta meet with chefs Craig Orlando, Hui Choe and Carl Weyant in the cafeteria kitchen for a taste test. The dishes prepared must be beautiful (we eat with our eyes first) and explode with flavor, while staying within the RD Approved criterion for sodium, saturated fat and added sugar.

So far, collaborations with University of Utah Auxiliary Services, Pepsi Co., vendors, internal communications and wellness marketing have helped Taylor and Lokuta check off their to-do list. More unsweetened beverage options are available than ever before, designated RD Approved checkout lanes are full of healthier snack items to fuel your day, bite-sized dessert options are now offered and RD Approved salad recipes help individuals create delicious and balanced meals at the salad bar.

Beginning in February 2018, RD Approved expanded outside of the hospital cafeteria. More nutritious food and drink options are offered at the University of Utah Campus Store, South Jordan Health Center, The England Hub at HSEB and Health Sciences Campus Store at HSEB. Keep your eye out at these locations (and more to come) for items labeled “RD Approved.”