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Strategies to feed kids well while dining out

KristJohnspasses an order customer Panerstore Brookline Mass. Monday March 8 2010.   Panerbread company is announcing ththey will become

Krista Johnson passes an order to a customer at the Panera store in Brookline, Mass., Monday, March 8, 2010. Panera bread company is announcing that they will become the first chain to post calories on menus nationally. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

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Updated: June 10, 2012 8:03AM

Q. What can I order for my children when we go out to eat that’s not full of fat and salt?

A. Trying to feed your kids healthful options when dining out can be stressful. Most restaurants offer the usual chicken fingers, mac ’n’ cheese, hamburger with fries or grilled cheese, but the calories, fat and sodium in these items is through the roof. Here are the healthiest options we found at popular restaurants:


The grilled chicken is the way to go at Chili’s. You can order the Grilled Chicken Platter, which has 160 calories, 3.5 grams of fat and 170 milligrams of sodium, or the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, with 230 calories, 5 grams of fat and 230 milligrams of sodium. Add a side of celery sticks with ranch dressing for an additional 80 calories, steamed broccoli for 30 calories or mandarin oranges or pineapple for 35 calories.

Macaroni Grill

Grilled Chicken and Pasta is the healthiest kids option at this Italian eatery. This dish has 350 calories, 6 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber. The sodium, however, is high, with 840 milligrams, so it should be a once-in-a-while treat.

Red Lobster

Some of the more healthful options include Broiled Fish, with 200 calories, 1.5 grams of fat and 350 milligrams of sodium, or the Garlic Grilled Fish, with 60 calories, 1 gram of fat and 580 milligrams of sodium. Good accompaniments are the fresh broccoli with 45 calories, garden salad with 90 calories or fruit with 40 calories.


The most healthful fare here is the Chicken with Broccoli, with 260 calories, 5 grams of fat and 540 milligrams of sodium. Ice cream is the main attraction at this joint; be sure to limit dessert to 1 scoop with 1 topping or have the kids share a larger treat.

Panera Bread

Although the deli sandwiches may be tempting, they have more than 1,000 milligrams of sodium each. Instead, opt for the PB&J sandwich, with 410 calories, 18 grams of fat (mostly unsaturated) and 550 milligrams of sodium.

Courtesy Toby Amidor on

Scripps Howard

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