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Kaiser challenges community to embrace healthy eating and living

By Theresa Harrington
Monday, February 4th, 2013 at 12:40 pm in Education, Kaiser Permanente, Mt. Diablo school district.

Students at Mt. Diablo High learn to cook healthy meals.

In December, Kaiser Permanente teamed up with the Mt. Diablo school district’s food services department to present a program at Mt. Diablo High focused on healthy eating and living called “Weight of the Nation.”

Many local leaders attended and were asked to make commitments to further the goals of the program in their communities.

Marianne Balin, Kaiser’s community benefit manager, recently sent a follow-up letter to participants, nudging them to keep their commitments. Her letter also included recipes for vegetarian chili and ranch dressing that were part of the December luncheon.

Here’s what Balin wrote:

“Dear Colleague,

I am writing to remind you that on Dec. 11, we had the pleasure of your company for movies and lunch at Mt. Diablo High School. At that time, 110 of our guests for the Weight of the Nation screening and lunch at Mt. D’s Serendipity Restaurant made commitments to work within their own lives, communities, schools, and workplaces to encourage healthy eating and active living.

If you are one of these commitment makers, our Community Benefit team at Kaiser Permanente is taking your commitment seriously. We will be contacting a number of you in February and March to inquire after your success. If you haven’t gotten started, please do. You can do it. Make a small change in your sphere of influence to make the right choice the easy choice. Serve fresh cool water. Bring the basket of tangerines. Have a walking meeting.

Here’s another gift for you to sweeten the work we hope you’ll do:
Mt. Diablo High School Vegetarian Chili (recipe attached)
Wellness City Challenge Buttermilk Salad Dressing (recipe attached)

Looking forward to catching up with you soon,
Marianne Balin”

Here are the recipes:

“Mt. D’s Vegetarian Diablo Chili”

Serves 4-5

1. 3 large tomatoes from MDHSs garden
2. 1 red onion (diced)
3. 1/2 heads of celery (diced)
4. 1 zucchini (diced)
5. 1 bell pepper (diced)
6. 1-2 Serrano peppers (diced) * optional, adds spice
7. 1 cup cooked kidney beans
8. 1 cup cooked pinto beans
9. 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
10. 6 oz. can of mild chiles (diced)
11. 1/8 cup chili powder
12. 1/2 tablespoons cumin
13. 1 tablespoon crushed red peppers (or as much as you like!)

Add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to a stock pot. Saute tomatoes until translucent. Dice ingredients from 1-6 and add to pot. Stir constantly and let items simmer together on a medium simmer for an hour to an hour-and-a-half. Add the rest of the ingredients and let simmer for an hour. FYI: Add crushed red peppers to desired range of hotness!”

“Wellness Challenge Ranch Dressing”

¼ teaspoon dried chives
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 ¼ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely diced red or sweet onion
2 cups mayonnaise
2 cups buttermilk

1) Mix all ingredients well
2) Serve over green salad

For more information or to order “Weight of the Nation” screening kits, DVDs and guides, visit
Additional details about the Wellness City Challenge are at

What kinds of commitments might you be willing to make to model and encourage healthy eating and active living?

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3 Responses to “Kaiser challenges community to embrace healthy eating and living”

  1. Hayley Says:

    What a fantastic program. It is about time schools started paying more attention to nutrition. Although this is a great step in the right direction, I gotta wonder how 2 cups of buttermilk and 2 cups of mayo is considered “healthy” considering the amount of fat and oil? The chili looks great though! A list of some oil-free dressings, (some contain nuts)…

  2. Brian Lawrence Says:

    This was a great event and I really enjoyed being there. It was a delicious meal and my wife filed away the chili recipe for future use. Cindy Gershen and the whole team are doing fantastic work.

    My commitment at the event was to scale back on soda (aka Diabetes in a Bottle) and to focus on eating a lot more greens. Two months later, I’ve been doing a pretty good job. In 2013, I’ve only had 4 or 5 Cokes and have replaced them with smoothies made of berries and greens. We bought a NutriBullet- love it!

    We need to make sure we continue to replicate this throughout the District. Nutrition habits during school are a huge precursor of life-long health.

  3. Theresa Harrington Says:

    Thanks for sharing what you’re doing, Brian! Perhaps some of the other trustees could share what they’re doing during their board reports.

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