Aug 15 2008

Healthy alternatives to french fries in kids meals

Published by at 6:33 am under Food News,Obesity epidemic

Although I may not always eat right, I try to make sure my children are getting nutritious meals.  Restaurants are getting more involved in healthy choices for your children, but what they are providing aren’t always kid friendly options.

For example, the fast food chains have changed from when I was a kid.  Back then it was burger or chicken nuggets with french fries and a soft drink.  Now, most have the option of a fruit and white or chocolate milk.  That is great!  However, they only offer one fruit.  McDonalds offers pealed apple slices with a caramel sauce, Burger King now has apple fries with a dipping sauce, Arby’s has apples and grapes in a cup – are you noticing a trend??  Wendy’s has a mandarin orange cup.  I’m sorry, but most adults don’t even eat mandarin oranges, so how are we going to get our children to eat them?  My son is a fruit eater and he won’t eat them.  Whenever I’ve ordered them for him I’ve ended up eating them and they really weren’t very good plain.  They’re better mixed with other fruit.

As far as sit down restaurants go, I would have to put Bob Evans as one of the better options for kids.  They have a very large selection of meals for the kids that offer healthy options.  The one complaint I have is that they do not allow you to get both a fruit and a vegetable without charging extra.  They do, however, have a mixed fruit cup, applesauce, cooked carrots, green beans, broccoli, and other options. 

TGI Friday’s offers a popular kids choice of mini carrot sticks with ranch dressing.  Tumbleweed serves applesauce with every kids meal.  Olive Garden has the family salad, but they do have a meal or two that come with steamed broccoli (how many kids really want plain steamed broccoli?).  They do not have any kind of fruit though.  Red Lobster has applesauce, but not a very wide variety of other options for healthy kid friendly side dishes.  Texas Roadhouse, like the others, has applesauce.  They have a few veggies, like green beans and sweet potatoes.

As you can see, a lot of these restaurants are offering some healthy alternatives, but for the most part, they are expecting us to feed our children french fries.  Almsot every one of these places shows french fries as the suggested side dish for the kids meals and you have to ask for them to substitute something healthy.  The problem is that they don’t have enough variety in their healthy options.  And when you’re trying to feed a picky eater, broccoli may not work for you.  Then you’re stuck with no healthy option for your child. 

It is going to take all of us to get our favorite restaurants to step it up and give our kids – and us – some more options for healthy food choices at their stores.  Speak to managers, write comment cards, email the corporate offices.  Eventually they will listen and we can have a variety of healthy options for our children to eat.

One response so far

One Response to “Healthy alternatives to french fries in kids meals”

  1. T.W.on 19 Aug 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Bob Evans does offer one kid’s meal — Turkey Lurkey — with two side dishes. The restaurant also offers a “Fruit Dippers” selection — four different fruits with yogurt in the middle. Bob Evans also offers other healthy options: grilled chicken strips instead of fried, fruit dish in place of French fries, a children’s salad, etc.

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