A purveyor of healthy lunchtime cuisine, Jason’s Deli’s doesn’t disappoint with a kids’ menu loaded with good-for-you favorites, all of which hover beneath the 500-calorie threshold. With wholesome, crowd-pleasing choices like PB&J on wheat or turkey-and-cheese on an organic wheat wrap, Jason’s takes the guesswork out of healthy eating. Plus, unlike most chains, their food is devoid of artificial colors, dyes and high fructose corn syrup, so you can feel good about what’s going in your child’s stomach.
We applaud Panera Bread’s efforts to cater to younger palates with a variety of compelling (and healthy!) choices for young’ns. You’d be hard-pressed to find nutritional pitfalls on Panera’s kids’ menu, which is chock-full of healthy sandwiches served with healthy sides including chocolate milk, yogurt or fruit. For a well-balanced, nutritious meal that clocks in at just 460 calories, nudge your child towards the Kids Peanut Butter & Jelly with a blueberry-flavored organic yogurt tube.
A perennial purveyor of healthy fast-food, wallet-friendly Subway gets a stamp of approval when it comes to tasty, heart-healthy menu choices for kids. The Subway Fresh Fit for Kids™ menu, endorsed by the American Heart Association, will get your child a Fit Mini Sub, apple slices and low-fat milk for under $4. With plenty of healthy options for Mom, too, Subway is a beacon of health for kids and parents alike.
Chick-fil-A deserves a slap on the back for its sensible, wallet-friendly kid menu. Departing from their namesake breaded-and-battered chicken varieties, Chick-fil-A steps up to the plate with a number of healthful grilled chicken offerings for adults and children alike. For a well-rounded meal, order your child a 6-piece order of grilled chicken nuggets paired with a fruit cup and low-fat chocolate milk.
Chipotle makes feeding your kids a breeze with an array of appealing, healthy Tex-Mex cuisine. The Chipotle kids’ menu allows kids to get creative with a taco kit of two soft or crispy taco shells and their choice of three ingredients (one meat or guacamole). Two kids’ tacos stuffed with rice, chicken, lettuce and fresh salsa clocks in at only 320 calories, 13 grams of fat and a reasonable 250 mg of sodium.
Applebee’s menu has long been sullied by sky-high calorie counts and grease-laden entrees, but they’ve recently cleaned up their act with a smattering of sensible dishes for grown ups and children alike. A proud partner of the Kids LiveWell™ program, Applebee’s has expanded its healthful menu offerings to children. For example, one Applebee’s Kids LiveWell-endorsed entrée [LINK TO: http://www.applebees.com/menu/kids] is a grilled chicken sandwich served with with steamed broccoli and 1 percent milk or apple juice. Just be sure to steer your child away from sugary abominations such as the Oreo® cookie shake.
When it comes to their kids’ menu, Zoe’s takes home an “A.” The Greek-inspired chain steps up to the plate with a variety of healthful kid-approved fare—think grilled (not fried!) chicken fingers, or a kids chicken roll-up with mozzarella cheese. Squeeze an extra serving of fruit into your kid’s diet and insist they order the fruit cup as a side.
Call it an “unhappy meal”: Most kids’ menus are dominated by fatty, preservative-laden fare such as chicken fingers, French fries and hamburgers. And, with one in three children in our nation classified as obese, restaurant chains really need to step up their nutrition game. But that’s not to say all kids’ menus are nutritional wastelands: A number of popular restaurant chains have risen to the challenge, pioneering healthy kids menus that swap fatty burgers and fries for nutritious sandwiches and apple slices. We’ve scoped out the best healthy menus for kids that get our mother-approved stamp of approval in terms of nutrition, convenience and price. These fresh, healthy kids’ menus are sure to delight the pickiest of eaters—and leave you satisfied, too.
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