Posts Tagged ‘kids’

Fast Food Is Unhealthy and Kids Love It – But it Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

November 29, 2010

And in the realm of things we already know but can still try to pretend to feign some shock at, it turns out that kids’ fast food is still unhealthy and still popular. Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity released a report recently where they looked at a dozen different restaurant chains across the country and came to the shocking conclusion we mentioned above. They looked at 3,000 kids meals and found a mere dozen to actually be healthy choices.

Why We Don’t Offer Healthier Options

This is a blog aimed at the restaurant and food service community, so let’s be perfectly blunt – we’re not here to set public policy, we’re not here to try to make our world a better place. We’re here to try to earn a living while giving our patrons a good time when they come to eat in our establishments.

And like it or not, fast food, including French fries and greasy hamburgers taste good and kids love them, so we keep offering them to our patrons. That said, maybe there is a better way.

Healthy Food For Kids that Still Tastes Good

The report also mentioned, as we said, that there were twelve kids meals that did make the grade for being healthy options for fast food. One of them that we thought was interesting was Burger King’s macaroni and cheese meal. It comes with apple slices and fat free milk.

The total cost of the calories in the thing? 285 calories. Compare that to the 973 calories that Dairy Queen was offering their young patrons and it makes us wonder – isn’t there some way we can offer healthy options as well?

Yes, We’re Trying to Make a Living, But…

Okay, we know, you’re not in business to set public policy. You try to offer what your patrons want to eat. Then again, if those patrons are young, they are often going to come in with their parents. We image (we hope) that their parents will want their kids to make healthier choices. Why not at least make healthier choices an option on your menu?

Getting Kids to Make Healthier Food Choices Isn’t Easy

November 7, 2010

Most of us see lots of kids come into our establishments to eat with their parents. It’s even possible that your particular establishment caters specifically to kids if you run a neighborhood pizza shop or burger joint.

However, there are also times when those of us running a more upscale restaurant grit our teeth and wonder how we can keep our other guests happy while not alienating families who may have children who just don’t want to eat a healthy meal.

Worried About the “Kid Conflict”?  You’re Not Alone.

If you’ve ever faced that problem, you’ll be glad to know you’re not alone. In fact, the USDA is so concerned about trying to get kids to eat healthy that they recently announced a new $2 million dollar campaign to try to change kids’ attitudes about school lunches.

The idea is to try and get kids to want to eat a healthy diet rather than the junk food that is often served in school cafeterias and on many of our own kids’ menus.

An Organization for Healthier Kids

The idea is to create a brand think tank called the Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs. The new organization will be based at Cornell University in New York State and will fund a number of studies in other states as well. The question they’ll be asking is: How can we get kids to want to eat healthier foods?

This is a question that we as restaurateurs, at least in more upscale restaurants need to be asking ourselves as well. Depending on the kind of place you run, you may have a tough time when the 10 year old comes in with her parents and they insist that she eat the foie gras.

How to Get Kids to Eat Healthily

One suggestion, which we frankly wonder about since it’s heavy handed and not likely to succeed (not to mention it doesn’t help us with ideas in our own industry) is to issue meal cards that can only be used to purchase healthy foods.

What are some ways that you use to get kids in your restaurant to quiet down and eat with their families? We’d love to hear about it. If you want to read more about the initiative, just visit their web site.

Life Imitates Art–iCarly Spaghetti Tacos are the Latest Craze for the Preteen Set

October 16, 2010

When does a gag become more than a gag? When the gag is seen on a popular TV show it would seem. The Nickelodeon Network, which caters to the preteen set, offers a number of shows that are designed to entice young viewers to tune in every day or week. However, one of their shows, iCarly, seems to have enticed their young viewers to try a new culinary delicacy–spaghetti tacos.

The show revolves around Carly, who makes her own Internet web show and her older brother Spencer, the character responsible for the new dining phenomenon. The idea was supposed to be a one time gag that show creator Dan Schneider came up with when brother Spencer had to cook dinner. It became a running gag, reappearing periodically on the show. Today is considered a favorite of the 8-12 year old set.

Why iCarly Could Make A Perfect Menu Addition for Family Restaurants

We’re not yet aware of any restaurants having added the spaghetti taco to their menus. But it’s only a matter of time before the carb-laden food becomes a hit in a restaurant whose owner is smart enough to take the plunge and bring in more family business by offering a treat that the kids will love.

While this is a low-carb dieter’s worst nightmare, those trying to offer kids menus that will get kids excited about coming to a restaurant could do worse than to offer hard shell tacos filled with spaghetti and sauce.

In fact, we can see the idea taking off and spawning a whole menu of different kid-friendly Tacos that even some parents may appreciate. Maybe add in some fresh veggies in order to give the meal some redeeming qualities?

Dessert Tacos, Too

Of course, if you really want to attract the kids to your establishment (and let’s face it, the kids often drive a lot of decision making process of where to eat), you could try innovating with dessert versions of the tacos.

According to those in the know, such a version has already been tried, featuring brownie mix, strawberry jam and white frosting. Who knows? You might even build a whole restaurant around the idea.

The New Kids’ Menus

September 16, 2010

Kids‘ menus historically have included things like French fries, hamburgers and chicken nuggets – in other words, foods kids love but that aren’t considered the most healthy.  But times are changing.

These days, the focus for children is on preventing the spread of the obesity epidemic that has taken hold in this country. All those fried foods which are high in fat and cholesterol, which we thought were acceptable things for kids to eat are no longer acceptable, even for the kids. Here’s how to keep up with the changing times:

Offer Kid-Friendly Food Prepared in a Healthy Way

The first thing you should do when working on a new kids menu is to remember that kids are still kids–they’re not likely to get excited about eating a nice big green salad. Finger friendly food is still very important for them.  It’s a good idea to include items kids can eat with their bare hands.

However, within that variety, there are plenty of choices. Consider baked foods instead of fried foods, which tend to be much higher in fat and cholesterol. Roasted potato wedges for example can still be finger friendly kids’ foods, as long as they aren’t too hot.

McDonalds has tried out apple dippers as an option for desert and some variation of that may be perfect for kids menus as well.

Offer a Few Choices for Special Needs

If you really want to make your menu kid friendly while at the same time attracting health conscious parents, consider offering alternatives for special needs kids.

Diabetes, peanut allergies and celiac disease are all growing concerns amongst children. Offer these options and you’ll make life easier for (and attract more) parents who constantly have to watch what their children eat.