Nearly two decades ago, I wrote a column called KidStuff for a national restaurant magazine. While more dining establishments were beginning to create children's menus, parents could rarely expect more than mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and fries.
Thankfully, the National Restaurant Association's (NRA) “What’s Hot?” survey of more than 1,800 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – reveals that children’s nutrition and local sourcing will continue to be among the hottest trends on restaurant menus. Healthy dining options for our youngest generation actually garners three spots on the list of trends for the year:
Top menu trends include:
1. Locally sourced meats and seafood
2. Locally grown produce
3. Healthful kids' meals
4. Environmental sustainability as a culinary theme
5. Children's nutrition as a culinary theme
6. New cuts of meat (e.g. Denver steak, pork flat iron, teres major)
7. Hyper-local sourcing (e.g. restaurant gardens)
8. Gluten-free cuisine
9. Sustainable seafood
10. Whole grain items in kids' meals
Whether you are on your family vacation or out in your home town, here's to happy, healthy dining ahead!