Kids' Meals: Prairie Grass Cafe

Featured Article, For Moms, Heroes, Local Heroes
on July 25, 2012
Crunchy Wild Striped Bass
Teresa Blackburn

Alarmed by the poor eating habits of kids, Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass Cafe in Northbrook, Ill., and Diane Schmidt, a concerned mother and health educator, decided to make a difference. Their grassroots program, Healthy Fare for Kids, enlists restaurants to offer healthy meals for kids—at least one. Stegner had been serving healthy kids’ meals for a while but was eager to get other chefs involved in the cause.

“Our message is that if you give kids a chance to eat healthy, and the food tastes
really good, they will enjoy it,” says Stegner. She has been pleasantly surprised to see kids ordering carrots, squash, spinach and even Brussels sprouts instead of mashed potatoes. French fries are not on her dinner menu. The program has recruited about two dozen restaurants to date, with Chef Rick Bayless’s famed Frontera Grill the latest addition.

Inspired by Stegner, here are four simple ways to get your kids to eat better while eating out:

  • Limit bread at the table.
  • If portion sizes are big, take half home.
  • Order sparkling water instead of soda or milk.
  • For dessert, try sorbet and a cookie.

—By Carolyn Walkup, a food writer in Chicago, Ill.