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Want a Healthy Kids Menu? Hyatt Figured it Out with For Kids By Kids

I’m kind of a soap box mom when it comes to kid nutrition. I just can’t imagine few things being more important than my daughter’s health and development of her eating habits. Like good manners, potty training, and a wild imagination, they are skills that will last her a lifetime.

Her very favorite foods include avocado, blackberries, shrimp, black beans, and peaches. She thinks dried apricots and pistachios are candy. And on the rare occasion we get a “real” treat, a bite or two of a shared ice cream cone is suffice. Given all of this, imagine how hard it is to take her out to eat with us. Between my refusal to give her fried junk, and her disinterest in eating it, the standard fare of a kids menu leaves a heck of a lot to be desired.

That is, until you visit the Hyatt. I often rave about the breakfast at The Hyatt’s Harvest Kitchen here in Wichita, calling it the best breakfast in the city. It’s the only Harvest in the country, but Executive Chef Paul Freimuth says another is in development in California with plans to expand further. I should think they’d want to – with locally sourced ingredients and attention to quality, the entire menu is like a work of art. While my daughter loves the yogurt bar, fresh fruit, and scrambled eggs on Sunday mornings, the Hyatt is now offering her and other kids many more options at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

This past July, Hyatt introduced its For Kids By Kids menu. It’s a kid-friendly menu that is super healthy, to satisfy parents, and full of foods kids like best, to keep the little ones happy. Hyatt didn’t just dream it up on a whim, they partnered with 11-year-old Haile Thomas, a young chef who is committed to the health of herself and her peers.

Calling Haile instrumental in developing For Kids By Kids, a representative for Hyatt said, “She is an ambitious young leader who is on a mission to inspire children to become interested in learning more about what they eat, and better understand the importance of cooking and living a healthy lifestyle. She has provided the Hyatt team with a perspective on how kids think about food and what appeals to them.”

I can say that from a mom’s perspective, Haile got a lot of things right. And from a kid’s perspective, I think my daughter appreciated the new menu, too.

My family was invited to Hyatt to try this new menu for ourselves. Chef Freimuth greeted us at our table and called the new menu “A big step in the right direction.” I’d have to agree. No matter where you go, from fast food joints to the nicest of restaurants, the kids menu looks the same: chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, French fries. It’s rather disappointing.

Freimuth mentioned that the hardest part of rolling out the new menu nationwide (as it’s available in 135 of Hyatt’s full service hotels and resorts) was meeting the organic requirements. Many of the menu items are organic, including fruits and vegetables, Greek yogurt, and cage-free eggs.

“I’m excited about this menu,” Freimuth told me, and his passion for what he does was evident. With more than 20 years with the Hyatt, you can see he is invigorated by the changes that will no doubt do a lot of good.

My little one and I perused the menu as I made suggestions for what she might like for dinner. While I talked Cinnamon Pancakes and a Sunbutter, Jelly, and Banana sandwich, she stopped and said, “I want carrots, apples, and strawberries,” pointing to the cartoon drawings of fruits and veggies on the colorful menu.

We compromised by ordering the Salad K-Bobs for her. It was beautifully presented with two skewers stacked with plump red grapes, crisp apple slices, cubes of cheddar cheese, and a small wedge of iceberg lettuce. She ate right off the skewer, but it would all have been even tastier dipped in the side of honey mustard. My only disappointment was the tiny serving. She could have easily eaten two more, or even had more toppings on the two skewers she received. The lettuce went untouched.

For myself, I ordered the exclusive Alice Waters Organic Summer Menu, a seasonal three-course meal designed to appeal to older children with healthier, but heavier appetites. The first course was a “dipping salad,” resembling a veggie tray instead of a tossed garden salad. Carrots, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, and a radish were served with a tangy lemon vinaigrette for dipping. I rather enjoyed eating it and I know few kids can pass up an opportunity to dip!

The main course was a juicy chicken breast grilled with olive oil and thyme served over a reasonable portion of roasted potatoes and a skewer of roasted red and yellow cherry tomatoes. On the side, a schmear of pesto mayo for dipping (way more than necessary). I actually dipped my chicken in the honey mustard! Kids menu or not, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. The portion was perfect, I was full and satisfied, and the flavor was delightful. At $16.95 for the meal, I can’t see ordering this for a young child, but it would certainly suit older children.

At Alice Waters’ request, the entire meal was organic. That was her requirement to partner with Hyatt to help create each seasonal menu.

Finally, for dessert, I was served a beautiful plate of strawberries and Valencia oranges drizzled with honey orange sauce. I managed a couple of bites before my daughter stole the plate away and finished it off.

There was little I didn’t like about the For Kids By Kids menu. Whole wheat spaghetti with turkey meatballs, mini build-your-own sub sandwiches, and even top-your-own breakfast tacos offered a lot of kid-friendly finger food that appealed to their playful nature. Nothing on the menu was fried, most of it was organic, and all of it was nutritious. My only disappointment was not finding calorie or nutritional information printed on the menu. However, the Hyatt spokesperson told us, “Our hope is that by next year we will be able to provide this information to our guests.”

When we’re traveling, especially, it can feel impossible to stay on track with our own eating. No doubt our kids’ diets get completely forgotten with all-you-can-eat chicken strip baskets at all-inclusive resorts. If you’re considering a stay at the Hyatt, trust that they’ve already taken care of healthful balanced meals for your kids that will absolutely appeal to them. If you don’t have a vacation planned, follow my lead and swing by your local Hyatt for breakfast or dinner. It won’t disappoint and the entire family will find something to love!

Also Read:

When it Comes to Kids Menus, Tell Your Kids to ‘Grow Up’

7 Fit Hotels Worth the Trip

Healthiest Family-Friendly Vacation Spots

August 28th, 2012

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