Articles: Local foods, healthful kids’ meals among 2012 restaurant trends/

Hottest Restaurant Menus Trends in 2012 Include Healthful Kids’ Meals and Locally Sourced Ingredients, According to National Restaurant Association

 “The American Culinary Federation has a long history of working with families to ensure that children receive adequate nutrition, so we are delighted that chefs have chosen to include healthful kid’s meals in the top 10 menu trends for 2012. We are also pleased to see an emphasis on local sourcing across major ingredient categories, including produce, a vital component of children’s diets.”

— Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, American Culinary Federation national president

The National Restaurant Association each year surveys professional chefs, members of the American Culinary Federation, on which foods, beverages, cuisines and culinary themes will be hot trends on restaurant menus. The trends were surveyed fall 2011.  Healthful kids meals is one of the main trends they see for 2012.

 Today, Chains and fast-food restaurants are trying to reverse some of the bad publicity they’ve gotten about their kids’ meals. Chains, more than independent restaurants, have a reputation for serving unhealthy food.”

There will be better options for kids’ meals. Historically, when you go out to eat with your kids, the adults have options if they want to eat healthier, but that hasn’t always been the case for kids. That’s changing.”

McDonald’s rolled out its slimmed-down Happy Meal — featuring apples and a smaller portion of fries — in Columbus this fall.

The National Restaurant Association this year launched the Kids LiveWell program in which dietitians work with restaurant chains to develop healthier menu items featuring lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.

Not everyone is eschewing fries. Andrew Freeman & Co., a restaurant-industry consulting firm based in San Francisco, predicts that French fries are making a comeback after years of languishing under the low- and no-carb diet crazes.

 “People aren’t immediately sold on the idea of potato replacing bread in their meals, but after some sampling, it’s been an easy sell,” McCarthy said. “There’s an immediate indulgent gratification, along with a sustained satiated feeling that stretches their dollar. It all boils down to the economy. People want to get the most for their money.”