Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Children's menu - reworked

One of the many wonderful things about living in Toronto is having access to an incredible, inexpensive, and diverse array of foods to chose from any time we eat out of the house. I mean no disrespect to the suburban landscape, but I must say that NOT having to chose between Milestones, Kelsey's, East Side Marios, etc. is truly a food blessing. Particularly for Oliver.
Over the weekend we attended a confirmation (more on that later, in an attempt to satisfy my sister in law's requests for more frequent posts, to keep her mind off her PhD) followed by dinner at Canyon Creek, a franchise "chop house". As there weren't any appropriate items for a baby vegetarian on the set menu arranged for our group, I asked to see the children's menu. If you've ever been to a similar restaurant, you can populate this list yourself:
  • Chicken fingers
  • Grilled cheese
  • Hamburger
  • Cheese pasta
No decent non-meat protein sources, no whole grains, and barely a hint of a vegetable. Maybe children in other families will only eat this way, and maybe I'm in for that as Ollie gets older and more willful, but none of the children I know have such limited pallets, and none of the parents I know would feel very good about feeding their children this way.
I know that these restaurants are aware of adult desires to eat healthy food. Most of them have gone as far as providing handy symbols and legends to help diners identify healthy/vegetarian/gluten free options. Some of them even try and respect sustainable farming and local food movements.
So what's the deal with the pathetic kid's menus? Seriously, how can these chains not have picked up on the farmers market shopping, organic food making mommy trend sweeping the nation (or at least the web)?
I ordered the cheese pasta for Ollie, based on the sole criteria that it was meatless. Unfortunately, just as a child who has grown accustomed to eating only McDonald's and Kraft is unlikely to enjoy more wholesome, homemade fare, the same is true for a child who's used to some real flavor in his dishes. Ollie ate about three pieces of penne and the rest came home with us, rejected.
For lunch today, I dressed it up to make it more appealing. Toss in some roasted tomatoes and garlic, green beans, fresh basil and parmesan, and suddenly (for a few cents and fewer moments), it's a meal with some colour, some flavor, and some nutritional value. On top of all that, it's a meal my son will actually eat. If only someone would put it on a menu!

** The title of this post is a reference to the amazing Meredith at Yours Mine & Ours, and her super amazing Re-Work week. I had hoped to follow along all week, re-creating items from my wardrobe, but this is a busy seven days, so I'm going to watch as the projects unfold, and then make my own attempts at them in a week or two. If you're looking for inspiration (or ways to stick to your newly imposed clothing budget **ahem**), you should check it out, and maybe break out the sewing machine! **

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