Healthy Kid Meals?

I have been seeing this tread online lately: making healthy kid meals at home. This is an easy thing to do, for the most part, but I have been paying very close attention to the meals at restaurants for kids when I am out with my son and I am so disappointed. Even with the places that have “healthy meals” for them. This generally breaks down to switching fruit out for french fries. Fruit which is usually apple slices which yes are healthy but are still pretty sugary. As for drinks the only healthy drink is usually milk or water. Sometimes you can get an apple juice – which is even more sugar. Very rarely, if ever, you get a choice of vegetables – even carrot sticks. And I am not even talking about just fast food restaurants but also regular sit down places.

Now, there seems to be a basic idea of what kids eat at meals and this usually is: fried chicken nuggets, spaghetti (with tomato sauce no meat), grilled cheese, pizza, quesadillas, fried, fried, fried… and fried. Do we really need to look any further to why our kids become picky eaters? And only want to eat crap? Do we continue to have french fries available in kids meals, so we won’t feel guilty for eating them while our kid munches down on carrots or apples?

I can not say I am not guilty. The other day I was craving a burger from Wendy’s and my kid got one too but my husband got him fries. We try to be very careful with giving him crap food. We try not eating out as much because its such a temptation. And when we do, we try hard to be careful in his meal while we are out. We hit Quizno’s the other day on a quick meal out while running errands and I was a little surprised in a place that has a wide range of choices of meats, cheese and vegetables had such a crappy kids meal menu. Their choices: Flatbreads – 1 with three cheeses and the other with cheese & marinara then a meatball monster. Luckily they had a choice of build your own and I did just that… I got him a turkey, cheese with tomatoes, lettuce and avocado. While his only side choices were a cookie or chips… my husband and I got the baked chips and ate them ourselves. As for a drink… we had lemonade which I watered down.

At least I had the choice. I don’t have a choice in a lot of places when fried chicken nuggets (which, yes my son does enjoy) are the main choice. Why not bake them? Or do nuggets without the breading and grilled? My son loves grilled nuggets just as much as Fried. One of the few places that bakes their chicken nuggets: Target. They don’t have a fryer on hand just that giant rolling oven they make their flatbreads, pizzas and chicken strips in.

I read about how kids are fed in other countries, like France, where they do not have kids menus. Kids eat the exact same food as parents. These kids generally not only are less picky eaters but also have a greater appreciation for food as they grow up beyond just greasy yumminess that we all grow up on in the US.

I am trying to do this but it is hard when that $2.99 meal comes up and he needs to eat as well. I don’t mind sharing with my son but I am trying to break him from the habit of not eating his food so he can eat off my plate instead. At dinner, we make sure he has the same food we do. I make him the same breakfast I have on 5 out of 7 days. But when we are running errands and we have to stop for a quick meal we are generally not very lucky. One of the few places in the Denver area that has a reasonable kids menu is Ikea… they actually serve kids vegetables with their mac & cheese.

So, what do we do? For now, I am going to just start feeding him off of my plate again unless I see better meals for kids on the menus. It’s not like they don’t give us enough food on our plates.

Olive Garden, no. Chinese Buffett, yes?

This is my dilema for the day – should I go to eat at an All-U-Can-Eat Chinese Buffett or the Olive Garden with my family tonight. You could easily say – Olive Garden, duh! But in an ugly truth, there is very little I can eat at the Olive Garden to stay within my calorie range for the day. Actually only 2 meals – Venetian Apricot Chicken (380 dinner, 280 lunch) or the Liguini alla Marinara (430 dinner, 310 lunch). While both seem yummy, neither sounds tempting to me right now. Especially since I will be working out right after dinner.

Everything else on their menu is over 700 a meal for dinner. And here is the saddest thing – on their Garden Fare menu there are (once again) no salads on their healthy diet menu. Unless you go with a plain salad without their dressing on it. Then its healthy. You can have the minestrone soup (which yummy!) but its not enough calories for  full mean on its own. So what can I do? In truth their website is NOT helpful at all in trying to find out the nutrional information on their food. You can go to their Garden Fare part of the website and get a small sampling of a few of their dishes but not all of them. And I can’t help with being on a diet, this kind of makes me not want to go there. I would really like to know the information about some of their other soups that I love. But nothing. And not much anywhere else.

In the day and age where you can get McDonald’s nutrional information online you would think a place with the name Garden would want to give you simiular information. Instead its just if you are trying to cut down on fat have one of these 4 meals. If you are cutting down on carbs here eat these – which by the way on the whole carbs portion of their guide, there is NO mention of what the calories are. But I did find out that the nice dish of Capellini Pomodoro which is at lunch 480 calories (and yummy sounding) is actually 840 calories at dinner. It bugs me when they do that… give you larger portions at dinner then at lunch and then push up the cost as well. This isn’t to say that I will never go there again, just not tonight. Maybe for their lunch menu when portions are smaller and I can have a little more variety to choose from.

And I will say that if I had to choose between the Olive Garden and the Marcaroni Grill, I would go with the Macaroni Grill just for their selections of healthier fooods over fatty bad foods.

So, I sent a text message to my mom. We will hit the Chinese Buffett. This is where my self-control will come into play. They have a salad section and fruit section. Those are very good things. I can make my own salad and have a nice fruit plate for dinner. In between stir fry and some baked chicken – which they sometimes have. Stay away from anything sweet ‘n’ sour and fried rice. White rice is your friend here. As well as some of the soups – which can be very high in sodium so stick to a single serving in one of their small bowls. And drink tea with no sweetner (green tea will be very good here) and water.

This is my goal for tonight. Wish me luck!

Salads… bad?

I went to dinner last night with the familia at the Macaroni Grill. It was an interesting experience later that evening when I happily went to the website to get the calories et al for the very nutrious, delicious Seared Scallop Salad that I had for dinner. Now I chose over the healthy chicken cause, duh salad good for you right? WRONG! The salad had 1320 calories in it which about 73% of the calories I am suppose to be eating in a day to loose weight (trying to stay around 1800 at the most) . 1320 calories! What the hell!? That is only 160 calories less then TWO Double Quarter Pounders with Cheese from McDonalds. On a damn salad of all things. On top of that there are 91grams of fat in the salad. Ugh… I am just glad I only ate part of it last night. And I am doubly glad that I went to the gym afterwards. Just wish I had worked out more now instead of heading home after about 45 minutes.

Here is the saddest part – the chicken I skipped over 330 calories. And in case you are curious the name of that chicken is the Pollo Margo “Skinny Chicken” which is a Grilled chicken breast with honey balsamic glaze served with grilled asparagus and broccoli. Those calories include everything in the dish. This was a 990 calories less then the salad.  And sadly there was another salad I was looking at and it was only 840, without dressing 490. Smack my head and call me Sally. While yes it was yummy yummy… but it wasn’t worth 1320 calories.

Now I know some of you reading this will probably say in your mind – yep, its always been like this. And while I have been aware that many salads were high in calories. I just never imagined they were that high in calories. I am not really one to count calories, I just want to hit an average and be aware of exactly what I am eating. At least now I know – I can still go the Macaroni Grill, I just need to be a bit more prepared and if I am completely and utterly not sure what is good for me, I need to just read the stupid little guide they give you and get a healthy meal from the menu.