Nineteen restaurant chains organized by the National Restaurant Association now offer Kids LiveWell meals that seek to increase kids’ consumption of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy while avoiding foods high in fat, sugars and sodium. Here’s a closer look at the program’s menu items.
Most popular non-burger: Grilled chicken. Au Bon Pain and Chili’s offer grilled chicken sandwiches. Cracker Barrel, Outback Steakhouse and Chilli’s feature other grilled chicken dishes.
Cutest sounding dish: IHOP’s Baby Cakes include scrambled egg substitute served with one turkey bacon strip and five silver dollar buttermilk pancakes.
Special requests: Several chains listed “healthy” items that require you to ask for a change of ingredients. Outback Steakhouse and Friendly’s advise parents to request a vegetable side dish to be served without butter or margarine. At Chevy’s Fresh Mex, you must ask to reduce or skip the cheese on tacos.
Most exotic dish: Kid’s Bison Sliders with Vegetables at Silver Diner.
Least (kid) friendly: Friendly’s lists just one option, an un-kid-like Chicken in the Garden Salad that must be requested without croutons or char-seasoning. And it doesn’t include a sundae.
Missing Mickey D’s: “We will evaluate participation in this program in the future,” says a McDonald’s spokesperson, who contends that the chain already provides “balanced menu options.” Subsequent to the Kids LiveWell program’s introduction, McDonald’s announced it will halve the fries portion of its Happy Meals, substituting three to five apple slices. It will phase out the the caramel dipping sauce for the apples.
Kristin Gilette is a MetroKids intern and Temple University journalism student.