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National Restaurant Association - Denny's: Big ideas for the small set

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Denny's: Big ideas for the small set

Thousands of restaurants around the country are participating in Kids LiveWell, a program developed and initiated by the National Restaurant Association in collaboration with Healthy Dining.

The program, which debuted last July, helps parents and children make more healthful choices when dining out. Participating restaurants offer kids' meals that focus on increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and low-fat dairy items, while limiting the amount of unhealthful fats, sugars and sodium they eat.

As part of an occasional series on Kids LiveWell participants, profiled here is family-dining stalwart Denny's.

Denny's: Big ideas for the small set

If you are one of America's largest family-dining chains, satisfying your smallest customers is a big part of a successful equation.

Recognizing the importance of providing children with healthful food items, Denny's became a member of Kids LiveWell and rolled out a new kids' menu that offers its youngest guests a variety of flavorful, healthful choices.

"Denny's is committed to offering options for kids that are not only delicious, but will also give them the fuel they need to tackle the day," said John Dillon, vice president of marketing and product development for Denny's. "Our new kids' menu encourages children to make healthy eating choices in a format they will respond to."

According to Dillon, Denny's worked with Kids LiveWell to create a pair of dishes that met the dual goals of cutting calories without sacrificing taste. The result was the Spartanburg, S.C.-based chain's 270-calorie Spaghetti Plate and its Build Your Own Jr. Grand Slam, which is 332 calories.

When it comes to creating more nutritious meals, 2011 was a big year for the 1,600-plus unit Denny's.

In June, Denny's introduced a series of nutritious Fit Fare® meals for all diners, which are lower in fat and calories and higher in protein and fiber.

And last September, the chain completely revamped its kids menus to encourage children -- subtly -- to make healthful eating choices by offering each entrée with a lower-calorie side item such as vegetables or Goldfish® crackers instead of French fries.

"Accessibility to nutritious menu options that don't compromise taste, value or variety is an important step to improving the well-being of future generations," said David Coltrin, Denny's senior director of product marketing and strategy. "We're excited to work with Kids LiveWell and showcase healthier alternatives to some celebrated American classics."

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