The Gavel restaurant in Charlotte has rolled out several new menu items aimed at giving customers healthier meal options. The new meals — part of the AL!VE Inspired Healthy Menu — were created through a partnership with Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital and the Capital Area Health Alliance (CAHA).

Working initially with CAHA in its Restaurant Initiative Project for Orleans Fresh Fish and Bar-B-Que in Lansing, HGB officials felt it was important to bring the initiative to someone a little closer to home.

“We wanted to get a local restaurant on board with offering healthy choices,” Dillon said. “It is important to make it easy for customers to identify and make healthier choices.”

HGB identified The Gavel in Charlotte as the perfect partner. Talks about ways to collaborate had been ongoing between The Gavel and AL!VE since the health park opened in 2011.

Deb Dillon, nutrition specialist with Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital, worked with owners, Justin Weinert and Nikki Hewitt-Weinert to create menu options that meet the nutritional criteria of the National Restaurant Association. All AL!VE Inspired Menu options contain 750 calories or less, 25 grams of fat or less and 8 grams of saturated fat or less. Additionally, kids menu items contain 600 calories or less, 35 percent or less of calories from total fat and 10 percent or less of calories from saturated fat or less.

“Half the people don’t know what the high calorie, high fat meals are,” Dillon said. “It’s difficult now to make a healthier choice. Customers are used to higher calorie, higher fat items. It’s what they’re ordering, so restaurants are going to continue to offer them. If customers had the option of a healthy, good tasting item, restaurants would make that switch. I think it’s a restaurants job to make the nutritional information available and highlight the healthier options.”

Nikki said she’s been impressed with customer response since the new menu was rolled out this fall.

“It’s exciting to offer something new and fresh, that is not only healthy, but tastes really good,” Hewitt-Weinert said. “We’re really excited about the Key West Chicken and Black bean and Quinoa Salad and the whole wheat pita pizza for kids.”

She added that the healthy selections for kids are wide ranging as the restaurant has put an emphasis on creating healthy eating habits at a younger age.

“The collaboration between AL!VE and CAHA has been amazing,” Hewitt-Weiner said. “This something new and unique. You can really feel the excitement.”