As someone who dines out three to five times a week for this job, I read a lot of kid menus. I can vouch for the unhealthy nature of many. Too few offer fruit or veggies, most are carb-laden, many are high calorie and some of it is food I'd never order for my own child - namely, neon orange macaroni and cheese. That's why I'm looking with interest at the new Healthy Meals Happy Kids restaurant program - a project of the Washington Restaurant Association Education Foundation and culinary students from the Clover Park School District.
Earlier this year, the culinary students at Lakes High School developed menu items with advice from nutritionists from MultiCare. The students then held trials last April with younger classmates who taste tested menu items. Those made-over meals are lower in calories, sodium and fat - and beginning at 5 p.m. today, four Lakewood restaurants will begin serving them: the Lakewood Ram, Burs, Carrs Restaurant and Farelli's. During the kickoff today, the restaurants will have a tasting table. After that, the kids meals will be available for purchase from the menu during September.
Each meal has no more than 600 calories, each has two or more servings of whole grains and is comprised of lean protein or low-fat dairy items. All meals have limited sodium.
So what's on the menu? Here's a look. I'll have more information next week, but you can go to the Washington Restaurant Association website for more information.
Chicken nuggets: Chicken breast with an herbed breading that is baked, not fried. Instead of the usual ranch or barbecue sauce, it comes with a red sauce for dipping. Turkey slider: A turkey burger on a mini bun with a secret sauce. Chicken quesadilla: Chicken breast quesadilla and spices grilled in a flour tortilla - served with red sauce. Turkey pepperoni pizza: Turkey pepperoni and melted mozzarella with red sauce.
Healthy Meals Happy KidsWhere: At four Lakewood area restaurants - the Lakewood Ram, Burs Restaurant, Carrs Restaurant and Farrelli's Pizza When: On kid menus through the month of September at participating restaurantsMore information here