I’m very excited to be involved with Fredericksburg Parent and Family! I am a pediatrician who is also very passionate about teaching families about nutritious food options for children. One of the things that I hope to do in these posts is to highlight some of the local establishments in the Fredericksburg area that offer better nutrition alternatives for kids. I have often observed that it is actually the adults who stand in the way of kids trying new foods. Parents are sometimes quick to say, “My child would never eat THAT,” referring to a food that their child has never tried. Another example is the restaurant that fails to offer healthy options, leaving the child no choice but to pick the fried chicken and french fries. Eating establishments need to understand that with the right guidance and choices, kids are more innately willing to try new foods than adults may believe.
In this first week I want to talk about a restaurant in the area that illustrates this point. “Salad Creations” is a restaurant perfect for a quick healthy lunch with great options for kids. It is located on Route 1 just south of Mary Washington Hospital in the new Eagle Village. This is a franchise based in Florida that has about 50 locations internationally. The Fredericksburg location was opened October 2010, and the owners have a second location in the Stafford Marketplace on Garrisonville Road.
The first thing that you see when you enter the line to order your food is a wall of salad greens, including iceburg, spring mix, romaine, and baby spinach. A recently revamped menu gives customers a choice between salads in three different price points. Each salad is made in front of you from a list of preset recipes. There is also a “create your own” option which allows customers to choose their lettuce, fixings (ex: beans, mushrooms, etc.), and for an extra charge you can select protein like chicken or salmon. There are a myriad of dressings (19 to be exact) and toppings as well. Those preferring something other than salad may choose sandwich options including paninis and wraps.
What struck me most about this restaurant was the kids menu. The kids combo meals included three different kind of wraps (chicken, turkey, and tuna). Each come with cheese, lettuce and tomato with a choice of those 19 dressings. At $3.99, all of the kids menu options included juice and an option of granola bar, chips or a cookie. Surprisingly there is also a salad option for the kids called the “Kids Kreation”. This is a kid-sized salad that can be made to order with 4 toppings of your choice. A protein is an extra $1.25 and extra toppings can be selected for 25 cents each. Amazing! Salad for kids!
I was intrigued and excited about this idea of kids ordering salad at a restaurant, so I spoke with the manager of Salad Creations, Sharon King. She told me that one 8 year-old girl came in and loved her salad so much, she brought her best friends to the restaurant for her birthday party. As opposed to the typical pizza and birthday cake menu of most birthday parties, each of the kids happily ate their own salad creations instead. As we discussed this unusual birthday party, I noticed a mother and her two children eating lunch. Her ten year-old daughter had ordered a beautiful junior sized salad from the regular menu. She allowed me to photograph her creation, and her mom emphasized how much this girl loves salad. In fact, at their house it is this ten year-old who is in charge of making salad for dinner. Music to my ears!
For those who like sweets, Salad Creations offers a frozen yogurt made by a company called “Red Mango”. They offer four flavors, two of which rotate. Their staple flavors are their “original” and a pomegranate flavor which is make with POM brand Pomegranate juice. These yogurts are tangy like a greek yogurt and not overly sweet. They offer a variety of toppings like fresh fruit, candy and nuts.
A huge perk for families at the Fredericksburg location- kids eat free on Mondays from 4-8pm (with a paying adult). They also offer catering if you are looking for a healthy party option.
It is my hope that restaurants will start to realize that kids will eat good food if it is offered to them, and there are a lot of parents that wish for better food when dining out with their kids. If you are one of those parents, make your voice heard by asking your favorite restaurants to include healthy options for your children.
In the meantime here is a super simple salad dressing recipe that you can make at home. This has a mild yet sweet flavor without the additives and high fructose corn syrup of some store bought dressings. The right dressing might be the key to getting a reluctant young eater to start enjoying fresh veggies.
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 cup red wine, apple cider or balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
3/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
Place ingredients in a large clean jar. Shake vigorously until combined. Store in the fridge for 2 weeks.
For more healthy recipes and ideas about feeding kids nutritious foods go to my website, Doctor Yum.