A local restaurant is showing its pickiest eaters that healthy food can be delicious.
Registered dietitian Wendy Johnson from Inova Loudoun Hospital worked with Coton & Rye executive chef Marcus Repp to change up the ingredients on traditional “kid friendly” dishes for its new children’s menu of healthy options. They designed a menu featuring gluten free and organic versions of well-known kids items like sliders and spaghetti and meatballs, as well as less conventional fares like cauliflower with tofu.
The restaurant hosted two taste tests to try out the new options. Appealing to children’s eating habits is difficult, but initial taste tests showed the new menu will be well received.
“The kids were skeptical at first, but then you could see on their faces they really enjoyed the food,” Johnson said.
Johnson said along with healthy options, a large population of Loudoun children have food allergies, making these organic and hypoallergenic options that much more important in the community. She said healthy offerings at restaurants like Coton & Rye can help inspire children at an early age to learn nutritional eating habits.
The taste tests at the restaurant, located in the Lansdowne Resort and Spa, utilized the opinions of more than a dozen children from ages four to 15. Along with healthy twists on traditional kids menu items, children sampled dishes like Zoo Cakes (zucchini, feta cheese, purple potatoes and sour cream) and the Rainbow Party Smoothie (kale, blueberries, raspberries and milk).
“A traditional kids menu as you know it is things like chicken tenders, fries, mac and cheese and spaghetti, so it’s not really anything of nutritional value for them,” Lansdowne Resort and Spa’s Sarah Crisafulli said. “We really wanted to redefine that whole experience for a kids menu that going out to eat and having something on the kids menu doesn’t have to be unhealthy. It can still be fun and healthy at the same time.”