YMCA Fit Picks provide healthy alternatives at restaurants

Farlows on the Water

SUN PHOTOS BY TOM CHANG
Farlow’s on the Water serves a variety of YMCA Fit Picks, promoting healthier selections like the Caribbean Grilled Scallop Salad, pictured above. Pictured, from left, are owner Keith Farlow and server Nici Lepore.

ENGLEWOOD — Farlow’s on the Water became the first restaurant in Englewood to unveil the YMCA Fit Pick selections on the menu when it debuted Thursday. The Fit Pick program is designed for health-conscious individuals monitoring their calorie intake.

“It’s really an exciting program,” said Mischa Kirby, director of marketing at the South County Family YMCA. “It’s starting in Englewood because there are a lot of local restaurants. Sometimes you go to these larger chains (and) they serve these meals that are identified as meeting (a) certain calorie count or that they’re heart-healthy. So we figured part of our mission is to make the whole community healthier, not just the people who walk through the doors of the YMCA.”

Kirby partnered with registered dietician Megan Witt of Englewood, who runs MegaNutrition Works, to create the criteria for qualifying entrees for the program.

“Our numbers are based on 600 calories, 600 (mg) of sodium and less than 5 grams of saturated fat,” Witt said. “We started with restaurants we knew that would be excited to jump on board, then we just kind of went through the restaurants we knew about in town we thought would be appropriate and have some healthier options on their menu to kind of start with.”

Witt primarily focused on entrees, since focusing on other areas like appetizers or desserts would not be conducive to a caloriebased dietary need.

“We went through the menu and I would send my list of potential entrees that might work to the owner of the restaurant,” Witt said. “From there I would say, ‘send me percentages of these recipes.’ I would need the exact recipe, portion size — like how many teaspoons of salt, sugar, down to the little minutia, because that can affect the overall calories and saturated fat. Some of the menu items came really close, but didn’t cut it with our numbers that we developed.”

Reception is favorable, so far, at Farlow’s.

“(Customers) think it’s phenomenal,” owner Keith Farlow said. “(When it comes to participating in the program), we just didn’t want to go right to our salads and do a fat-free dressing and say, ‘Here you go.’ Every one of my salads meets the Y Fit Picks. We really were going after entrees for lunch and dinner that people can go in. I love salads, but if I’m going in for dinner, I’m probably not going for a salad.”

He said he looks to further develop new entrees with Witt to expand the Fit Pick selections.

Farlow’s on the Water is located on 2080 S. McCall Road. For more information, go to www. farlowsonthewater.com, or call 941-474-5343.

For more information about the South County Family YMCA, go to www. southcountyfamilyymca. org, or call 941-475-1234.

Y Fit Pick Menu

Farlow’s on the Water serves a variety of YMCA Fit Picks, promoting healthy eating.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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