One of the many ways that fast food restaurants have done a disservice to our kids is to train their little palates to equate a fun meal out with something that is processed, fried and full of sodium. It’s gotten to the point where even the nicer sit-down restaurants have to put burgers with fries and chicken nuggets on their kids’ menus.

“If we have six items on our kids’ menu, it’s the fried ‘chicken dinosaurs’ that sell as much as the other five items put together,” says Gary Nebiolo, General Manager of the Winberie’s restaurant in Oak Park.

Winberie’s will be offering a special kids’ menu full of healthy and sophisticated offerings from April 24-28 in honor of The Week of the Young Child. “We took items that we already have in house and adapted them,” Nebiolo said. “We got the 12-year-old niece of one of our servers to come in and give us a kid’s perspective.”

Making the final cut were a grilled chicken kabob with pineapple and cherry tomatoes on brown rice (the pineapple provides that sweetness kids love) and a pizza-like flatbread with chicken, grilled tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil.

Fish dishes can be a tough sell to some kids, but Winberie’s is offering two tempting versions for the tykes to try: A cedar-planked salmon and a tilapia taco. If you have a budding foodie on your hands (like my son, who chose to eat escargot on his 8th birthday), this might be a way to develop more sophisticated – not to mention healthier – dining habits.

Did you know that the chefs at Winberie’s have been doing cooking demonstrations at District 97 schools for at least 12 years? Golden Apple award winner Sandy Noel started the ball rolling at Hatch to show kids the fun side of preparing and eating healthy foods. So it is very likely that your student has been primed to broaden their horizons a little.

The “regular” kids menu will also be available that week, but I think it would be great to show your kids the special menu first. Each of the special week’s entrées (except for the salmon, a few bucks more) is priced at $7.00, which includes a beverage and dessert.

Wouldn’t it be great for the healthy choices to be so overwhelmingly popular that Winberie’s would have to put them on the permanent kids’ menu?  Hey, a health coach can dream, can’t she?

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Lisa Browdy

We all know what to do, and many of us resolve to do it every year: eat better, exercise more, lose weight and reduce stress. We may have many demands on our time and energy, and not a lot of cash to spare...