Wednesday, October 10, 2012

National competition set for healthy kids recipes

Restaurateurs and food service operators interested in helping combat childhood obesity may want to take a look at the National Restaurant Association's "Kids Recipe Challenge."

The new NRA initiative is aimed at showcasing restaurants’ culinary ingenuity in creating healthful menu options for children. The founding partner is McCormick For Chefs, the "food away from home" division of McCormick & Company.

The idea is to recognize and promote tasty and nutritious recipes from children’s menus at restaurants and foodservice establishments nationwide. While a Apanel of industry professionals will select finalists, the real end consumers -- elementary school students -- then will choose the winners.

"Kids’ palates are evolving and they want food choices that are authentic and globally inspired. McCormick For Chefs helps meet demand and deliver the flavors that kids love," said Phil Kafarakis, McCormick For Chefs vice president of foodservice. "Partnering with NRA to conduct the Challenge provides the ideal way to showcase recipes that combine our passion for flavor and nutrition."

In my view, it would be wonderful if this project became a catalyst to improving kids' menus in the Capital Region. The average kids' menu at local restaurants runs to the hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, spaghetti variety, an unimaginative kiss-off that does little to expand kids' palates or interest in trying healthy, tasty foods.

To participate in the Kids Recipe Challenge, restaurant and foodservice operators may submit one or more recipes from their children’s menus that meet the nutrition guidelines from Kids LiveWell and MyPlate. Operators/chefs may participate in four categories:
  • Independent restaurants or companies with fewer than 20 units  
  • Multi-unit companies with more than 20 units 
  • Contract-managed foodservice 
  • Independent non-commercial foodservices
The deadline to submit recipes is January 7, 2013. Details on submitting recipes, nutrition criteria, and contest rules are available online. The winners will be revealed at the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show set for May 18-21, 2013, in Chicago.

The Challenge is a complementary project to Kids LiveWell, which the NRA launched in July 2011 in collaboration with Healthy Dining to help parents and children find healthful menu options when dining out. More than 100 brands representing nearly 30,000 restaurants are participating in Kids LiveWell.

"The Kids Recipe Challenge is another great example of galvanizing the restaurant and foodservice community around the importance of ensuring that American families have ready access to nutritious food," said Dawn Sweeney, NRA president and CEO. "We designed the initiative to be a fun and creative way to showcase healthful menu options, and a source of inspiration for foodservice operators and chefs to continue to add those options to their menus."

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