Foods of a Generation: The Importance of Offering Healthy Kids’ Meals

“Lead by example” … An excellent mantra for families to live by, especially at mealtimes. Adults who eat healthy foods and make good culinary choices can set children on a path for eating well for the rest of their lives.

As restaurant consultants who care about our kids’ eating habits, and of the habits of the children eating in our client’s restaurants, VSAG believes strongly in offering fresh, flavorful and nutritious kid-friendly (and parent-approved) menu options.

And we’re not alone. With such successful initiatives as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity through exercise and healthy eating, and the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program, where participating restaurants commit to offering healthy kids’ menu items, there is a national movement to provide children with healthy food choices and get them excited about the benefits of eating well.

No matter your brand or concept, this is a movement worth joining and sharing. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • For main dishes, think outside of the traditional chicken nugget box and offer chicken satay skewers with a flavorful dipping sauce
  • Instead of a beef burger try leaner meats such as pulled pork for sliders
  • For super side dishes try whole grain rice pilaf, steamed vegetables and mixed fruit salad
  • For something that’s a perfect start for experimenting with new ingredients, try chopped kale salad with apples and lemon vinaigrette, or quinoa with grilled seasonal vegetables
  • For beverages, skip the soda and offer low-fat milk/chocolate milk, flavored sparkling water or fresh fruit smoothies housed in fun, take-home containers

What about desserts? It’s easy to add delicious desserts to your kids’ menu and still feel good about it. The goal here: Don’t deny, but don’t ‘super-size.’ Maybe it‘s dark chocolate fondue with fun dippers like sliced pineapple, mango or green apples, low-fat granola bar bites or mini marshmallows, or try an all-natural, one scoop ice cream sundae with sliced bananas, a drizzle of chocolate sauce, a dollop of freshly made whip cream topped with a raspberry coulis.

You’ll see, kids will work with what they are offered and will love trying new choices!

For more information on the Let’s Move! campaign or becoming a part of the Kids LiveWell initiative go to Lets Move! or Kids LiveWell.