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CPT Elaine Kirish, officer in charge of the medical surgical unit at Bassett Army Community Hospital, pours a green smoothie for Nathan VanVactor, 11, son of Claudia and Maj. Jerry VanVactor, chief of Logistics for Medical Department Activity-Alaska, during a green smoothie tasting Monday. The smoothie tasting was introduced as a way to promote healthy nutrition choices as part of the Performance Triad, an Army Medicine initiative focusing on quality sleep, better nutrition choices and consistent activity.

January 24, 2014
Staff report, MEDDAC-AK PAO

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - In December Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho, the Army Surgeon General, visited Medical Department Activity --Alaska and urged staff members to become healthier in 2014. She stressed the importance of the Performance Triad, an Army Medicine initiative that focuses on quality sleep, better nutrition choices and consistent activity.

Horoho not only preaches about the Performance Triad, but she lives it.

While addressing a room of approximately 150 MEDDAC-AK staff members, Horoho spoke of how she set a personal goal of walking 10,000 steps each day, changed her sleeping habits to ensure she was meeting the seven-hour standard whenever possible and that she has significantly cut out processed food from her diet.

She also told the group she had incorporated green smoothies into her nutrition plan, which led to a collective groan throughout the room.

To combat the negativity surrounding healthy foods such as green smoothies, Col. Maria Summers, deputy commander for Nursing at MEDDAC-AK, decided to launch Operation Green Smoothie and hold a sample tasting of the beverage at Bassett.

"Lt. Gen. Horoho spoke about how the things we do today effect the way we live tomorrow," said Summers.

"Green smoothies, while just one way to improve nutrition, are a great resource to improve circulation and lower cholesterol. We did this tasting to let people know just because something is healthy and may not look too appetizing, it doesn't mean it tastes bad."

Operation Green Smoothie kicked off with a refrigerator full of fresh veggies and frozen fruits, including spinach, carrots, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and other assorted berries. Staff members manned blenders throughout the day to give samples out to anyone wanting a taste.

All together over 450 staff, Family members and beneficiaries took part in the tasting, many coming back for a second cup.

"I was really skeptical about the smoothies because of the spinach and the kale, said Virginia Rigdon, a MEDDAC-AK employee who tried a sample.

"I thought it was going to be bitter and unpleasant tasting, but it wasn't. It had just the right amount of sweetness and I couldn't tell all those greens were even in it," said Rigdon.

Rigdon was one of many who have asked for the green smoothies to be incorporated into the menu either at the Bassett dining facility or through another venue on-site, which was part of the goal.

"Ultimately we would like our staff and beneficiaries to make green smoothies and other nutritious food a daily choice," said Summers, who has added the green smoothie to part of her daily menu.

Some staff members took Horoho's advice on the green smoothies before the tasting at Bassett. Jana Burke, hospital librarian, has been making them for herself and her husband since Horoho's visit.

"My wife has been pushing these on me for the last three weeks or so," said Staff Sgt. David Burke with the 9th Army Band. "I think they're great and I feel better already!"

For more information on the Performance Triad go to

For more information on green smoothies visit