Healthy Kids Meals - A Primer
By Matthew Rosenberger Consultant & Publisher, ABC Travel Guides for Kids | January 08, 2010
It's a New Year, and like most folks, dear reader, some of your resolutions were once again repeat resolutions: to eat healthy and to exercise more. In fact, these two resolutions are number one and number two respectively on the New Year's resolution chart since they started keeping track. With this in mind, hotel food and beverage departments must take a good hard look at their menu offerings for kids. No longer is a children's menu filled with fried foods and buttered noodles acceptable. Packaged and produced foods that are loaded with salt and fat must go. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and pastas, and vegetarian dishes are now expected and demanded by not only parents, but their children as well. (The CDC estimates that 1 in every 200 kids is a vegetarian). Frozen yogurts, sorbet and smoothie bars have replaced the ice cream social's hot fudge sundae and milk shake. So this year start creating healthy kids' meals for your guests. Keep things simple with the following thought in mind: Healthy adult food can translate to healthy kid food. So what it comes down to is presentation and creativity. This article will present you with all the tools you need to get started.
Start with a Healthy Turndown
Kids have fond memories of little treats and amenities when they visit a hotel. In fact these memories often create an indelible image in their mind that they keep with them forever. This is a great place to start introducing healthy choices to your youngest guests. But rather than leaving traditional chocolates at turndown consider healthy alternatives for them with fun names. A house made trail mix combo, a piece of super power antioxidant rich dark chocolate or an exotic fruit plate, will get the kids excited and provide a healthier alternative at the same time.
A New Menu
The hallmarks of healthy kids' meals are that the main entree and side dish offerings are nutritionally balanced with smaller portions presented in creative ways.
A California law that takes effect in 2011 will require restaurants with 20 or more locations to detail calorie counts on their menus. A federal bill similar to the California is under consideration. In anticipation of the changes, Macaroni Grill is grabbing the bull by the horns and taking the initiative with a new menu and a new approach. The challenge is immense, keeping loyal customers happy while taking away their favorite dishes. But MG has a plan-introduce menu changes that will cut the fat with less oil and cheese, and add tasty new low calorie dishes. The restaurant will be replacing the creamy pasta, cheesy pizzas and high caloric deserts with Mediterranean-Italian menu with more grilling, leaner cuts of meat, lighter pastas and fresh herbs and seasonings. (Think olive oil instead of butter and a slice of lemon in your water).