Adding Healthy Foods to the Children's Menu
By Robert Stegall-Smith
Corporate Executive Chef
Performance Foodservice - IFH Florence
Adding Healthy Foods to the Children’s Menu
I can walk into almost any restaurant and guess what’s on the Children’s Menu without even looking and I bet you can too! It is possible to offer some healthy options without chasing away your youngest clients. You can introduce super foods into the menu without being overly obvious.
Super foods are nutrient rich with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is a diverse list, but a good clue is any produce item with a deep rich color. Here are a couple of recipes to get you on your way.
The first features kale and, yes, while this sturdy green does make an excellent decoration on the buffet, it is also a nutritional powerhouse, like many other dark leafy greens. Make the pesto below and toss with your favorite Piancone or Assoluti pasta for a new favorite. The second recipe features carrots hidden in marinara sauce. Being naturally sweet, carrots are easy to mix into other foods and are actually good for your eyes, particularly your night vision. Finally, a modern household classic pumped up with fresh blueberries. Any list of super foods will almost always place blueberries near the top in health benefits!
There are several benefits to providing a healthier children’s menu: parents feel better about eating at your place, children broaden their taste horizons, and we help maintain the health of our future customers.
2 cups packed torn kale leaves, stems removed
1 cup fresh packed basil leaves
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup toasted pecans
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In a food processor, combine the kale leaves, basil leaves, and salt. Pulse 10 to 12 times until chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Scrape down the sides of the processor. Add the walnuts and garlic and process again, and then add the cheese and pulse to combine. Toss with pasta and serve.
Carrot Enriched Marinara
2 ½ lbs. carrots – peeled and diced
1 can Piancone Marinara Sauce
Bring the salt and water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook until soft. Drain all but ½ cup of water. Puree the carrots and water. Add the marinara and stir. Heat as needed.
1 ½ Tbsp. butter
6 oz. marshmallow
3 cups rice cereal
1 ¼ cup fresh blueberries
Melt the butter and marshmallow over a medium heat. Stir in the cereal and blueberries. Press into a buttered loaf pan and let cool. Remove and slice.