Here are a few guidelines I use when taking any child to a restaurant to eat. They are also guidelines I try to use for myself.
1. Avoid restaurants where they give you a basket of bread, crackers or tortilla chips as soon as you are seated. Alternatively, just tell the waitstaff you don’t even want it brought to the table. Choose vegetable appetizers or bring healthy options from home if your child will be hungry before the meal comes.
2. When ordering, try to limit the amount of white rice, naan or other bread products are brought to the table with your meal. In my experience eating out, children will eat a whole meal of just bread and white rice if it’s available.
3. Avoid restaurants that use a lot of salt. This one may be a little harder to figure out at first, but over time you can learn which restaurants to avoid. Overly salty foods tend to cause cravings for strong sweets and liquids during or after the meal. They can also be a factor in later irritability.
4. You may not like this one, but I try to avoid letting children even see a “children’s menu.” Too often this menu is full of processed meat substitutes, flour products and sweets.
5. The restaurants listed below have several vegan pancake and french toast options. As far as I know, they are all sweetened with cane sugar. Consider buying a single pancake, along with other non-sweet options, and split the pancake among everyone at the table. Some children can eat a small amount of something that sweet and it doesn’t ruin their taste for healthier options at the same meal. For other children, the pancake is too sweet and the vegetables, etc, won’t taste good alongside. Personally, if I order a pancake I get a single one along with a serving or two of vegetables. My blood sugar stays more stable throughout the morning than if I had the pancake solo.
I know there are a lot of healthy, kid-friendly restaurants in Seattle. Here are a few of my favorites:
Portage Bay Cafe Four Seattle locations serving breakfast and lunch. They usually have a porridge and pancakes that are vegan, a local vegetable hash that can come with tofu and some type of veggie burger. For small kids, you can order sides of tofu, a variety of vegetables (I love their sautéed greens!!), fruit and either a porridge for the grain or you may need to go with a small slice of their fresh baked bread.
Chaco Canyon Cafe Three Seattle locations serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are many options here for a grain and vegetable eater. The lentil soup is good and comes with a small side of quinoa or brown rice. You can order any grain bowl toppings, like vegetables, beans, tempeh or tofu, as sides.
Silence Heart Nest Open for breakfast and lunch. Choose from tofu scramble, a soup of the day that is often vegan, vegan sweet potato biscuits and cashew gravy, sides of black beans and brown basmati rice, sides of vegetables, portabello soft tacos and a vegan burger.
Plum Bistro Open for lunch and dinner. I like Plum Bistro best for their weekend brunch. They have the best all vegan brunch in Seattle and I often get a side of greens with whatever I am ordering. Just be careful. This is a restaurant where you can overdo it on the sweet side if you are not wary. This restaurant may be more kid-friendly during the day. I’m not sure. Happy Hour is another great option, with a variety of options and smaller portion sizes.
Seattle Center Food Court Among the food options, this local vender food court has a variety of great options and a side-shoot of Plum Bistro, called Plum Pantry.
Do you have favorite kid-friendly Seattle restaurants? How do you get healthy meals for your children when you go out to eat?