Thursday, May 15, 2014

Finally, Restaurants are Stepping Up and Offering Healthier Meal Options for Kids #KidsLiveWell #Sponsored

Disclosure:  I am participating in a sponsored Triberr campaign for the NRA and the #KidsLiveWell Program.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

You know what I love about this time of year?  The abundance of vegetables that are starting to pop up. And, in a few short weeks, we will start visiting a local farm and picking up a food share as part of their CSA program.  Not only do we love supporting local farmers, but I love being able to provide healthy meals for my family, using each week's assortment of vegetables. 

But, as we wait for the local CSA program to start, we are enjoying stopping by the farmer's market and picking up asparagus, potatoes and other in season vegetables.  Who knew that kids could get so excited over vegetables?  Well, after my girls saw purple potatoes and asparagus this past weekend at the Farmer's Market, they asked if we could get some to try.  My oldest who is almost 4 yrs. old, asked me if the potatoes tasted like blueberries.  :-)  While they saw their excitement with the fun colorful selection of veggies available that day, I also knew that my girls are picky eaters.  So, it was one thing to purchase and cook up the purple veggies, but, it would be another to get them to try them.

I have found that if I get my girls to help me in the kitchen, even if it is just to stir or pour ingredients into a bowl, they are more receptive when it comes to taste testing, as they want to see how things they help make taste.  And, after having them help me mash up the purple potatoes and count and the rinse the purple asparagus, they were ready to roll up their sleeves and sample these fun looking veggies.

So, what did they think of them?  Surprising both of my girls liked the purple potatoes.  And, while they didn't taste like blueberries, they found themselves finishing their portion and asking for more.  My youngest, who is 2 1/2 yrs. old was a fan of the asparagus, while Savannah was good with just one bit.  Hey, you win some, you lose some, right?

While I try to prepare homemade meals each week at home for my family, there are times that we find ourselves dining out, or calling out for take out.  Busy schedules, forgetting to defrost something for dinner, or merely not wanting to cook, leave me rushing around to find restaurants that serve up food that the girls will eat, but that are also healthy for them.  We make an exception once in a while to run to a fast food establishment, when we are pressed for time.  But, for the most part, I have a running list of restaurants I can count on to offer up meals that taste just like homemade and that are made with healthy ingredients and good for my family, especially my growing girls.  And, now I can say that I have a handful of other restaurants in my area to try out, thanks to a new campaign set forth by the National Restaurant Association (NRA).  

The folks at the NRA are partnering with Healthy Dining to offer a Kids LiveWell Program, which will call on restaurants to offer up healthy foods for kids.  As a parent who is cautious of what I feed my child, especially when we are dining out, I love the reassurance this new initiative offers in that restaurants also want to offer healthy options for kids, too.

Even thought the Kids LiveWell initiative is a voluntary program, over 41,000 restaurants have already signed on and are committed to offering healthier children's menu options, for family's dining out.  How great is that!  

In order to be added to the Kids LiveWell list of participating recipes, kids menu items have to meet the following specific nutritional criteria, which has been established by leading health organizations and verified by the Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians. You can be sure when you select a Kids LiveWell full meal it meets the following criteria:

Full Kids' Meals (entrée, side option and beverage):

  • 600 calories or less
  • ≤35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤10% of calories from saturated fat
  • <0 .5="" artificial="" fat="" font="" grams="" only="" trans="">
  • ≤35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤770 mg of sodium
  • 2 or more food groups 

Side Items:
  • 200 calories or less
  • ≤35% of calories from total fat
  • ≤10% of calories from saturated fat
  • <0 .5="" artificial="" fat="" font="" grams="" trans="">
  • ≤35% of calories from total sugars (added and naturally occurring)
  • ≤250 mg of sodium
  • 100% fruit, vegetables or juice; and low fat (1%) and skim milks are permitted
  • 1 food group 

See additional menu item criteria here --

Want to see if there are restaurants in your area that have made this commitment to offering up healthier meal choices for our children?  Then, visit to see the growing list of restaurants and their healthy menu items for kids. 

In addition to this wonderful and much needed restaurant initiative, the folks at the National Restaurant Association and McCormick For Chefs created a Kids Recipe Challenge, for participating restaurants & food service providers to enter

The Kids Recipe Challenge is a fun and creative way to showcase healthy menu options available when dining out.  Those who have taking the pledge to offer a more healthier children's menu submitted their creative culinary creations from their kids menus, for consideration and chance to win an award.

After much deliberating and testing by both adults and children the following were chosen as the top 4 winners of this new Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge award:

2014 Kids LiveWell Recipe Challenge Winners:

Runners up and other finalists who participated in this challenge included:

Culinary RD
Great New Hampshire Restaurants
Morrison Test Kitchen
Boston Lobster Feast
Mama Fu’s
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District
Mt. Princeton Hot Springs Resort
S&R Little Chef’s Kitchen
Tony Roma’s
Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts

Make sure you follow me on Twitter this upcoming Saturday, May 17th, as I will be providing virtual coverage from the National Restaurant Association's Annual Show in Chicago. I will be tweeting using the hashtag #KidsLiveWell, as will other bloggers and show attendees, about the Kids LiveWell initiative and more.

In the meantime, make sure you follow Kids LiveWell on their social media pages, to stay up-to-date on news and new restaurants being added to the growing list...

Don't forget to visit and make sure you download the FREE smartphone app to your phone.  

iPhone Screenshot 1

This app will provide you with a list of participating restaurants and their healthy kids menu items, which will definitely come in handy the next time you find yourself rounding up the family, to take them out to eat a restaurant.  No more worrying what the kids will eat, and if it is healthy or just junk food. 

Disclosure:  I am participating in a sponsored Triberr campaign for the NRA and the Kids LiveWell Program.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.


  1. All places should have healthier option by now, every time we eat out they always have some part on the menu for better choices to eat. Even for the kiddos. It is about time we get it together.

  2. I'm all for healthier options. When I have a problem with it is when they ban you from eating certain foods. It should be up to the parents to decide. My kids are all thin and we rarely go eat at the Olive Garden but sometime ago I found out they no longer serve French fries on the kids' menu because of the First Lady's health initiative. I think that's very intrusive. I don't think the menus should be mandated by the government. But I like having more options like being able to choose between fries, fruit, veggies, etc.

  3. I agree about kids helping out in the kitchen being more open to trying new things. That app sounds like it will be really helpful!