California Grill wins Golden Carrot: Watsonville eatery serves up healthy menu
By Donna Jones, Santa Cruz Sentinel
WATSONVILLE -- When Ashley Peixoto was growing up in the Pajaro Valley, she'd grab a bag of chips from a convenience store or snag a snack at a fast food joint on her way home from school.
There weren't a lot of other options, Peixoto said, adding she wanted to change that when she and dad Dick opened the California Grill on Freedom Boulevard.
The Peixotos' efforts not only to offer healthy choices at the restaurant, but also to promote them on the menu earned the California Grill this year's Ultimate Golden Carrot Award from the United Way of Santa Cruz County and the county Department of Public Health.
"I want kids to have something good to choose instead of just junk -- adults, too," Peixoto said.
The award was launched in 2009 to recognize restaurants that promote healthy eating. This year, 20 county eateries received the award. The California Grill was picked as the premier winner.
People's choices are shaped by what's available to them. The award showcases examples of what can be done, said Mary Lou Goeke, executive director of United Way.
"You can be profitable and successful and still serve healthy food," she said.
A section of the California Grill menu is devoted to dishes made with whole grains, low-fat dairy, organic vegetables and lean meats, prepared with no added oil, butter or salt. Produce from Lakeside Organics Gardens, another Peixoto business, is often picked just hours before being served to customers at the restaurant.
Not all customers choose the healthier items, said Dick Peixoto.
"We can't make people eat healthy, but we're committed to giving them options," he said.
To view a list of all 2013 Golden Carrot winners, visit www.goforhealthscc.org/golden-carrot-award.