A Cambridge restaurant is serving up healthier foods for its customers with the launch of a pilot project, Healthier Options.

Healthier Options is encouraging local food outlets and restaurants to make simple swaps on their menus that are healthier and taste just as a good.

Charlie's Coffee Company in Burleigh Street, Cambridge, is the first restaurant to sign up to the scheme with five others in the pipeline. Healthier Options has a range of resources to support food businesses to make a pledge towards a healthier menu. There is a wide range of tips and ideas around what each type of food business can do, many of them are cost neutral or even cost saving. All businesses receive training also on how to adapt their menus. For example using healthier oils, keeping the oil clean and at the right temperature and using better frying techniques will reduce fat, saturated fat and salt intake, but the food still tastes great.

Charlie's Coffee Company has already changed a number of items on its menu, including pizzas, sandwiches (with freshly baked bread) and some of its lighter bites. It's planning more changes in the future too.

Eating out accounts for about 10 per cent of the food and drink energy people consume on average, with many consuming much more than this. In Cambridgeshire 20.9 per cent in reception (4-5 years old) and 29 per cent of children in year 6 (10-11 years old) are overweight or obese. Healthier Options has great tips for children's menus to move beyond "˜chicken, chips and fizz' to fun dishes like "˜rainbow rice and a "˜kids cocktail'.

Shopping surveys have shown that people are making more health conscious purchases with their food and drink. Healthier Options is supporting local food businesses to keep up with this trend and also acknowledging those businesses that are already have healthy menu options and cooking practices.

The scheme is also recruiting Healthier Options ambassadors "“ volunteers who can help recruit restaurants and spread the word about the scheme too. For more information about the project and also how to join the scheme visit http://www.healthier-options.org.uk/

Healthier Options was developed collaboratively by Cambridgeshire County Council's Public Health Team, Cambridge City Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council and Fenland District Council. It is being evaluated by the University of Hertfordshire. The initiative is starting out in Cambridge, with the aim to spread to other areas of Cambridgeshire.

Greg Rawinski at Charlie's Coffee Company said: "We're delighted to be the first restaurant to take part in Healthier Options. For us it's a bit of a game changer. With this scheme we now know how to tweak our menu so it is tastier and healthier. It's good for business too with the healthier options proving a real hit. Not only that, we now feel we are acting ethically by encouraging people to eat more healthily. I'd recommend businesses to register and take part."

Sarah Stevenson, Health Improvement Specialist at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "It's very exciting to get our very first restaurant on board and serving up fresh, delicious and healthy food to its customers. There's evidence from across the country that these types of projects can make a real impact on what we eat outside of the home, at a time, when obesity is one of our biggest health challenges

Follow Healthier Options on Twitter @Healthier_Cambs  or like it on Facebook Healthier Options- Cambridgeshire  


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