I am pleased to announce a new program from Doctor Yum called “Play With Your Plate”. Doctor Yum has partnered up with Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine to help make eating out healthier for kids in the Fredericksburg, VA area. Using this program will help local restaurants improve the nutrition offered in their kids menus. Our first kids menu project made its debut this past Tuesday at a wonderful restaurant, “FOODĒ,” in downtown Fredericksburg.
First, here is a little background. I know I am not the only parent frustrated by the lack of nutritious options featured in restaurant kids menus. We are all familiar with the choices: chicken tenders, burgers, mac and cheese, and pizza (all with a side of fries). Let’s face it. Ours is a culture that eats out. According to the USDA, a third of our meals are eaten outside of the home. As I much as I love to cook, sometimes even I need a break from the kitchen and a fun night out with the family. Some of the ways I have gotten around the unhealthy kids menus is: 1) order a veggie side dish for my kids, 2) visit ethnic restaurants where there is no kids menu and the kids have no option but to eat a more balanced meal, 3) Hide the kids menu and make the kids split an adult entree. It takes a lot of gymnastics to get the kids a healthy meal!
It so happens that a wonderful restaurant opened in Fredericksburg this year. “FOODĒ” is a cool downtown eatery that focuses on food made from fresh, organic, local ingredients. After eating there a few times, the delicious food had me hooked. I noticed that despite the natural organic offerings on their kids menu, their meals still lacked the plant foods missing in most kids menus. The owners of Foode, Joy Crump and Beth Black, agreed to my help with rehabilitating their kids menu, and Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine helped to create the marketing program promoting other restaurants committed to healthier kids menus. FOODĒ agreed to be our pilot restaurant, and our program “Play With Your Plate” began!
With the help of my friend, local artist Mary Van Slyke (of illustrativenature.com),our “Play with Your Plate” team came up with some ideas for a placemat for kids to draw and color while waiting for their meal at FOODĒ.The placemat features the new USDA “Choose MyPlate” icon which shows kids how a meal should be portioned between fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins. We also provide each family with a questionnaire that surveys their experience with the new kids menu. Part of this questionnaire uses the “Yum Score” seen on my website to rate their meal.
The second restaurant to join the mix was the Trolley Stop Deli on Caroline Street. The deli menu now includes sandwiches made on whole wheat bread with fruit and veggie sides and water, milk or 100% juice options.
Our third restaurant to debut December 5, 2011 is the Capital Ale House in downtown Fredericksburg,. Stop by and see our WONDERFUL kids menu placemat designed by Mary Washington art students Ashlely Buyers, Marie Hamilton, and Katie Sleyman (they also designed our new “Play with your Plate” logo). The new menu selections are a departure from the usual kids menu fare and include some creative and exciting new options.
We just added a brand new restaurant to the list on Feb 1, 2012. Baba Ganoush has an exciting kids menu featuring Mediterranean and Indian Cuisine.
Thanks to Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine for continuing to partner on this program. It is my hope that other restaurants will see that offering healthy food for kids serves our community and can be profitable as well. Chefs like Joy Crump who are creative and skillful with food can show reluctant young eaters that healthy food can taste great.
Contact [email protected] if you are a restaurant that wants to participate in our “Play With Your Plate” program.