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How To Eat Out and Look Good While Doing It

Borough restaurants will offer healthy menu items today through end of March as part of contest.

Do you want to lose those Christmas cookie and eggnog pounds? The borough's restaurants have you covered and are waiting to help you with your New Year's resolutions.

Now that winter is here, and there is no farmer's market to encourage us to get out there and tote home the broccoli and Swiss chard, the motivation to eat healthy foods and exercise can get put on the back burner. But help is on the way. The Chatham Borough Mayor's Wellness Advisory Board is sponsoring a Healthy Eating Contest among borough restaurants today through March 31 so you can eat out and not completely sabotage those "I will eat better in 2010" resolutions.

The 21 participating restaurants will each offer new, healthy options on their menus marked that will specifically be marked as "healthy eating items."

The contest culminates in an award and recognition ceremony at the Chatham Borough Administration building in April to recognize the winners and thank all the restaurants for participating in the contest.

A Chatham Borough Mayors Wellness Advisory Board was established in April to support the mission of the statewide Mayor's Wellness Campaign. 

The campaign's goal is to equip mayors and community leaders with tools to develop and implement active-living initiatives in their communities.

Mitsuba Japanese Restaurant on Main Street has bought into the contest's idea. Its owners are going above and beyond by creating a special menu insert for the contest. The menu will feature a "healthy eating item" as well.

Co-proprietor Michael Yu said the restaurant's owners are excited to be able to let people know about the healthiness of Japanese food.

"Everyone knows sushi is healthy but there are many other [healthy] things, too," Yu said.

Chatham Bakery and Bread owners Lewis Demeter Jr. and his wife, Julianne, said they decided to participate in the contest because so many of the items in their store already support many people's health needs.

"We make a lot of gluten-free things and we are totally peanut free too," Lewis Demeter said. "We use absolutely no chemicals or additives."

The restaurant's rye bread, he said, is what people should look for when they come by the bakery. Demeter said it takes 11 1/2 hours to make.

The Chatham Sandwich Shop, a mainstay on Main Street for 31 years, is also participating in the contest.

Joe Armino Jr., who works in the restaurant along with his father and owner, Joe Arminio, said that although the restaurant could designate something currently on the menu, they will come up with something new for the contest.

"You get to know everyone [here], and the customers are more like friends than customers," Arminio Jr. said.

To participate in the contest, simply visit as many of the participating restaurants during the first three months of 2010 and vote for your favorite healthy eating item, by sending an email to mayor@chathamborough.org. You can also drop a paper ballot—available at each participating restaurant—at the Chatham Borough Hall mailbox near the police entrance. The participating restaurants can be identified by the bright orange and green "Mayor's Healthy Eating Contest" poster in their windows.

The restaurants participating are: Angie's, Arminio's, Bean Curd, Chatham Bakery and Bread, Café Beethoven, Café Villa, Chatham Sandwich Shop, Charley's Aunt, Coldstone Creamery, Cottage Deli, Dunkin' Donuts, Farley's Place, Fuoco Ristorante Italiano, Garden Rice, Gregorio's, Liberty Drug, Mitsuba Japanese Cuisine, New Main Taste, Restaurant Serenade, Supper and A Taste of Asia.

Several other programs have been developed by the Wellness Advisory Board, including the farmer's market fitness programs during the summer, a walking program that runs year around and health and nutrition videos that will air on the local cable access channels during the first two months of the new year.

Have a healthy and happy 2010.

Linhart is a member of the Wellness Advisory Board.

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