Balanced Menus Recipe Toolkit

Toolkit Details

Welcome to the Balanced Menus Recipe Toolkit. This toolkit contains entrée recipes submitted by health care facilities across the country to assist other hospitals, who are participating in the Balanced Menus Challenge, in providing nutritious, delicious meals to patients, visitors, and staff.

While these recipes include the traditional information related to ingredients and preparation, unique additions help hospitals not only reduce overall use of meat and dairy products, but to substitute more sustainably produced and climate-friendly options when feasible. The suggestions made here are also in alignment with the Green Guide for Health Care (GGHC) Food Service Credits. The GGHC is a best practices guide for health care facilities that want to improve the sustainability of their operations, including foodservice.

When using the Toolkit, please note the following:

  • Nutritional Content of each recipe was measured against a set of nutritional criteria established by the Sustainable Foods in Health Care task force of dietitians. The criteria were sourced from numerous sites including the American Heart Association. Emphasis, however, was placed on the principles of the Balanced Menus Program, which includes consumption of healthy, sustainably raised, nutritious foods.
  • Seasonality Notes were determined by reviewing the growing season of all produce within a recipe, based on the region from which the recipe originated. The seasonality and availability of ingredients in a recipe may change depending on where the recipe is being made. For more information on what is produced in your region by season, visit Field to Plate or Sustainable Table.
  • Sustainable Purchasing Notes are based on the third-party certified eco-labels and USDA approved product label claims outlined in GGHC Food Service Credit 3. This guidance is meant to provide you with a way to identify more sustainably produced food items using certifications and label claims that are considered "meaningful" for a given food category. Reliance on these certifications and terms is especially important when you are unable to visit a farm and/or determine yourself whether the produce, chicken, or other foods, are produced using more sustainable and/or humane methods.

Entrée Recipes

The complete Toolkit includes these entrée recipes:

  • Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pilaf
  • Akara (Black Eyed Pea Fritters)
  • Asparagus and Ricotta Cheese Quesadillas
  • Baked Tilapia Fresco
  • Bean and Kale Soup
  • Chicken Chili with White Beans
  • Chicken Primavera
  • Dal Tadka
  • Good Shepherd Chili
  • Grilled Chicken Quinoa Pilaf
  • Herb Crusted Trout
  • Iranian Stuffed Tomatoes
  • Jewish Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
  • Organic Asian Pear Salad
  • Oven Poached Salmon
  • Pumpkin Chili
  • Quinoa Garbanzo Bean Tabbouleh
  • Seared Sea Bass over Bulgur Wheat with Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
  • Spinach Corn Casserole
  • Tofu Steaks with Red Pepper Sauce
  • Vegan Pasta Primavera
  • Vegetable Tofu Stir Fry
  • Vegetarian Meatloaf
  • Wild Rice Mushroom Soup
  • Whole Wheat Fettuccini with Winter Greens

Follow-up Questions

We encourage you to learn about the food you purchase and ask questions:

  • Where does it come from? The best way to make good purchasing choices is to get to know your farmer and your vendors. Ask your distributor to track the source of their purchases. Purchasing food locally and regionally will provide you with fresher foods and assist you in minimizing your environmental impact.
  • How was it grown, raised, harvested, processed? Purchasing third party certified or USDA/FDA labeled items such as Organic is always recommended to support human and environmental health.
  • Are the people who produce the food treated in a safe, fair, and healthy manner?

Learn more about the importance of purchasing fair trade foods at the websites of the Fair Trade Federation and Domestic Fair Trade Federation. We also encourage you to communicate with your vendors and let them know that these attributes are important to you when purchasing food for your menus.

Enjoy these recipes as you work to create foodservice operations that are healthy for people, your community, and our environment!


NOTE: This information was developed by members of the Sustainable Foods in Health Care taskforce, a network relationship of the American Dietetic Association's Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group and Health Care Without Harm.