At the restaurant Mestizo, you'll find plenty of good food with Louisiana flair. What you won't find are dishes drowning in fat, salt and butter. Owner and Chef Jim Urdiales says he's been working for years to make his menu healthier, one dish at a time.
"We're trying to give people an option on every level of dining," said Urdiales.
Now, that healthy effort is spreading. Mestizo is just of several area restaurants taking part in a city wide initiative called Eat Healthy BR. The Baton Rouge mayor's office launched the program which recruits local restaurants and asks them to create healthy meal options starting with the kids menu.
"It's important to focus on the younger generation," said registered dietician Melissa Martin. "If we can educate our children on healthy choices and healthy options, we hope that we'll find that kids are asking parents for healthier items."
Each Eat Healthy BR restaurant is asked to offer milk and water as the top drink options for kids in order to discourage more surgery drinks. They are also asked to include a fruit and veggie serving with each meal.
Restaurants also get a consolation with an area dietician to help them use items already in their menu.
Urdiales says the small changes have been a huge success, and he sees it as a lifestyle change that people at every age are embracing.
"What you're seeing is that balance of young and old saying, ok we want a healthier option. It is tough when you're in South Louisiana and we're constantly tempted, but I think people are trying to find that balance," said Urdiales.
Organizers with Eat Healthy BR hope the trend continues to grow, making good eating and healthy eating one in the same.
Other participating restaurants include Ruffino's, Fresh, Le Creole, The Little Village, MJ's Café, Magpie Café, Baton Rouge General Hospital, Nino's and Oscar's Pizza.
For more information on Eat Healthy BR and the city's larger Healthy BR initiative, click here.
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