I had the most amazing girls trip this past weekend- a very rare 48 hours without children- hanging with some of my favorite friends from college (thanks to my amazing parents for kickin' it with the kiddos so I could go reconnect and disconnect!) Anyway, I also had the chance to get some reading in and catch up on my magazines! Parents magazine did a list for their April 2011 issue which discussed the top ten places for kids to eat. I am sharing the list and the most important info; I was pleasantly surprised with this information, hope you are too!1. Jason's Deli: organic produce, nitrate-free lunch meat, whole-grain bread, only restaurant to ban high-fructose corn syrup and artificial colors in all of its food, side options are organic carrots, apple slices, fruit cup, they took soda off of the kids menu offering organic milk or apple juice, they even have an organic PB&J on whole wheat!
2. Cosi: lowest sodium content per dish of any of the places on this list, mini fruit cups, bag of baby carrots, any sandwich or pizza can be made on the light-colored whole-grain flatbread so kids cant tell it apart from the white stuff
3. Souplantation/Sweet Tomatoes: kids night with balloons and clowns, 55-foot salad bar (great way for kids to try new things), 8 soups, 3 pastas, 4 mixed salads, whole-wheat biscuits, low-fat muffins, fresh fruit, frozen yogurt.
4. Red Lobster: Four of seven kids menu options are seafood, garlic grilled shrimp skewer (my kids love things on a stick), sides are orange slices and steamed broccoli, low-fat milk, grilled chicken is also an option, LADIES check this: The recently remodeled locations include changing tables in the men's room!
5. Chipotle: a taco kit where kids can choose 3 ingredients and make their own tacos at the table, all dairy products are hormone free, most of the meat is antibiotic-free, each chain is required to locally source at least 50% of one product item, entire restaurant is peanut- and tree-nut free
6. Noodles & Company: swap more than 14 veggies and lean protein-rich foods, food delivered to table within 5 minutes of ordering, they give a fun noodle doodle notebook to kids.
7. Red Robin: Fun food: new grilled chicken Popsicle sticks, colored tortilla strips on salads, carrots and ranch, mandarin oranges, apples, any sandwich can be wrapped in lettuce or on a whole wheat bun, balloons, kid-size sinks in the restrooms of new stores, "Red" comes out on Tuesday nights
8. Mimi's Cafe: mouse-shaped pancakes, kids get free nibbler platter with a bib, cereal and orange slices, more than a dozen kid menu items and seven side picks, four kinds of milk.
9. Panera Bread: whole-grain bread, organic squeezable yogurt, apples, organic milk or apple juice boxes (Personal note: my girls love the soup and smoothies here!)
10. P.F. Chang's: family-style dining (2 entrees can easily feed a family of 4), you can replace oil or soy sauce for vegetable stock for a healthy cooking option, you can order chicken with the sauce on the side for plain eaters (Personal note: I also like Pei Wei for kids, same idea)
There you have it, I learned a lot from this list. They also did an article in the April issue about high chairs, apparently restaurant high chairs are covered with bacteria (big surprise). I was glad to be reminded to wipe them down with an antibacterial wipe because "scientists swabbed the seats and arms of high chairs in 30 restaurants, they found bacteria counts much higher than those on the average public toilet seat, even though the chairs all looked clean. Two thirds tested positive for potentially harmful bacteria, such as E.coli and MRSA." (Parents April 2011) Good reminder!