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Beyond the deepfried nuggets: How to choose healthy dishes for kids when eating out.

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Does it sometimes frustrate you to see a kid’s menu at a restaurant with no other choices than defrosted and deepfried sausages and nuggets?Here are some tips in ordering from the adults’ menu for healthier and more adventurous meals for your little ones.

  1. If you can’t avoid the deepfried kids menus, check out the starters, soups and sidedishes for a healthy addition. Think of baked potatoes, tomato soup with meatballs or a portion of edamame to complement a greasy kiddy dish.
  2. Share a dish. I personally like to order one adult set menu and add a couple of much liked side dishes to share with my kids. My picky eaters can give the new dish a try and fall back on something familiar if they really don’t like what I am having. One of my few successes in introducing a new dish was the Indian paneer makhani (cottage cheese, tomato gravy and honey) because I combined it with their all-time favorite: the cheese naan.
  3. Bring your own tumbler with water. Sweet and carbonized drinks fill up the tummy and may cause the loss of interest in trying new foods. Most restaurants are fine with children bringing in their own drink, as long as the adults order beverages. So if you think about it, kids bringing in their own water is a) healthier and b) saving up the cost in designer water on your tab J

International cuisines.

Check out a Brunch Thing, an earlier entry in Libur Keluarga by Wendy Soeweno, for a coverage of wholesome and delicious picks at Koi, Pad28 and Loewy. Healthy variations are also available at Gourmet World and the Swiss-themed Marche.

Favorites at Gourmet are the Spaghetti Bolognese and the Katsu set with the omelet ‘dipisah’ to keep the crunchiness of the Katsu.

Marche is convenient when you have younger children. They have kids specials, which are smaller versions of the adult menus bumped with a toy, and you can sit near the play area. I often tell the Marche cook to go easy on the salt and to add in some extra cheese or veggies.

Food Courts

I personally love the food courts at Gandaria City and Senayan City because they clean the tables quite often and for some reason I find the toilets there very clean, within reach and having plenty of booths (so practically no lines).

Healthy food options: Salmon Pepper Rice at Pepper Lunch. They usually serve it without the black pepper for the kids. Chicken Doner Kebab with extra cheese and vegetables with just a dash of mayonaise and any grilled chicken or fish at steak places or udon and ramen bowls with extra seaweed.

Indian cuisine

All time favorite and rejection-proof introduction is the naan. At Kinara there is a wholewheat naan for hardcore moms, but my son will not allow me to be hardcore so we compromise by choosing the cheese naan. Try the different curries and the raita as a dip and the boneless chicken breast tikka as a main.

Chinese cuisine

Who does not like chinese food? Even the most difficult eaters can find something there. Din Tai Fung has great nasi goreng telor and you can ask them to be extra generous with the carrots. The buns there are excellent and red bean Tau Sa is a healthy favorite. Ming serves a hot pot with delicious, multi grain fried rice that most kids will love.

Mexican and Spanish Cuisine

Why I combine these two together is because there aren’t that many Spanish or Mexican places in Jakarta. And secondly, both cuisines are perfect for sharing! The kids menu at Amigos offers great quesadillas at a way better price than the quesadillas from the adults menu. Great for sharing are sizzling fajitas or the burritos. I just add an extra order of the paprika-filled Mexican rice (daughter’s favorite), tortillas or a vitamin-E bowl of guacamole

I tried both Spanish joints Moya and Movida, and my kids love Movida the most because of the bread. A popular sharing item is the massive pan with seafood paella. They say it is sufficient for four, but if you add another four eaters to your table it will still be enough.

Tapas tips for kids: Anything with cheese or tomato sauce with a bowl of bread. A winner combo is bread dipped in the garlic oil of the mushroom tapas with meatballs in tomato sauce.

Italian cuisine

Stone oven pizzas, tomatoes, herbs, cheese, bread, pasta, gelato. What is NOT to love about the Italian cuisine? And the healthy choices for kids here are abundant too. For the price conscious families, there is Warung Pasta and the Calzone is a frequently ordered dish by my son (for just 20 thousand)

Japanese cuisine

We love Sushi Tengoku at Radio Dalam because the rice of their sushi is just right. Not too thick and lemper-ish sticky, and not to loose either. For katsu dons, go to Kiyudon when you prefer a don that uses chicken breast instead of unrecognizable fatty parts dipped in batter. Ootoya has healthy and yummy omelet options in their kids’ section.

 



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