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5/11/2005

The Birmingham News
Volume 118,
May 11, 2005

Good (and good for you)

Author: JO ELLEN O'HARA News staff writer

Company connects with flavorful meals that are also nutritious - and convenient

Paige Pinson has always been health conscious. At 37, the attorney, wife and mother of two, and her family often ordered food to take out, as that allowed them more time together when they were at home.

Pinson noticed that frequently the entrees they ordered either came with heavy sauces, or if ordered without sauce, the entree lacked flavor. She felt that there had to be a solution for families like her own, where they could find food that was nutritious and tasted good without all the heavy additions.

That was more than two years ago. After a lot of consulting with experts in the field of food and nutrition, Healthy Connections Inc. opened and represents what Paige and her husband, Mark, think will answer needs of many families like their own.

A nutritionist at UAB formulated menus that met the flavor and healthful standards. Healthy Connections is on its way.!

The company, which is operated by a small staff and a rotating group of chefs who prepare the food, now provides two meal plans, one based on 1,200 calories a day; the other 1,800 calories.

While the meal plans are available seven days a week and deliveries are offered in various parts of the city, the program can be as flexible as a customer desires.

Here is an example of how Healthy Connections can fit into a lifestyle: A busy professional who wants to lose weight just never can find the right time to get started. By ordering a 1,200 calorie Healthy Connections menu for several weeks, the person can lose weight, get the proper nutrients for a healthy lifestyle and only has to heat and eat when mealtimes come. Sometimes, heating is not even required.

Actually, Healthy Connections' menus are formulated to fit in most any person's lifestyle, unless there are allergies that preclude using them.

As in any situation, a person should consult w! ith his or her doctor before going on any longterm diet plan, but thes e menus resemble any family's day-to-day meals.

Convenience

Paige Pinson says that convenience is the cornerstone of Healthy Connections. All the planning, shopping and cooking is done for you. The most a person who purchases the menus has to do is heat up the meal. All food is fresh, not frozen, and is ready to be eaten.

The 1,200- and 1,800-calories a day plans also include two eight-ounce glasses of fat-free milk each day (milk is not included).

Meals are ordered in advance and picked up at a specified location. If you choose to have the meals delivered to your home, there is an additional charge.

The meals are delivered three times each week: Monday for Tuesday and Wednesday meals; Wednesday for Thursday and Friday meals; and Friday for Saturday, Sunday and Monday meals. All meals must be refrigerated until eaten.

Expert help

Since the Pinsons' knowledge was based on their interest in good health, they contacted experts in! various fields to ensure a sound menu program.

Among the experts is Rebecca Kelly, who teaches sports nutrition at UAB and is full-time wellness coordinator at American Cast Iron Pipe Co.

Kelly, who is enthusiastic about the menu program, says that all those involved have sampled the menus based on flavor and content.

Kelly says they all want to include seasonal changes in the menus, which also is in keeping with the idea of ''fresh'' food in the meals.

Kathy Hubbard, a dietitian and one of the Eat Right coordinators at UAB, analyzed each of the meals and this nutritional analysis is listed on every meal package from Healthy Connections.

''It's so important to have something that's good and healthy,'' Paige Pinson believes.

A group of chefs works at Healthy Connections throughout the week, preparing the meals according to specifications set by dietitians. In most cases, the meals get garnishes to add eye appeal.

The main off! ice, where food is prepared, is on Acton Road, across from Alabama Aut omobile Association headquarters and less than a block from McDonald's.

The office also serves as a cafe during the day, serving healthy breakfasts and lunches. Breakfast offerings include bagels, muffins, yogurt and condiments.

Lunches are salads, a fish of the day, deli combinations, soup of the day and always-popular chicken salad.

Currently, the cafe at 2409 Acton Road, Suite 161, is open from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.

The staff is limited, so it is not unusual to find Mrs. Pinson's mother, Jan Elliott, working in the shop, doing everything from taking orders to explaining the program to prospective customers.

In the future

Since the company is still in its early months, the goal now is to get the two calorie-controlled menus solidly established. These menus are basically low calorie, low fat and low cholesterol.

Both Paige Pinson and Rebecca Kelly see a future that includes other menu plans included, such as South Beach Diet me! nus and many others.

The women know there is a market for this service and as far as they know, this is the first specific menu service in the area.

As well as people who have a busy lifestyle, other prospective customers include those who cannot drive or cook, and those who need to follow a restricted diet for medical reasons.

Pinson and Kelly say that recently a doctor called and ordered 15 meals for his staff to try. He told them this was the first menu plan that met all his requirements for good health. Most meals average about $7. A week's order runs about $120, depending upon pickup and delivery options.

Copyright (c) 2005 Birmingham News
Record Number: MERLIN_2503577

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Healthy Connections, Inc. - Your Connection To A Healthy Life


Healthy Connections has completely changed my life and improved my health. I have lost over 70 pounds and gone from a size 18-20 to a size 8. It's so convenient; it's like having your own personal chef.
Debbie

The meals are low calorie, low fat, low sugar, and low sodium--in short, they address every well-known dietary risk to good health.
Skippy and Sandy

I would recommend Healthy Connections meals and the very friendly, helpful staff to anyone who needs to lose weight or just wants healthy meals without the stress of preparing them.
Cathy

My husband and I wanted to lose 15 and 12 pounds or more, respectively. Also, we both have high blood pressure and wanted food that was low in fat and low in salt. We tried the Healthy Connections method and were very pleased with it. We recommend the program to anyone needing a good well-balanced diet that includes good tasting food.
Edna

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