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National Restaurant Association - What’s Hot: 7 kid-friendly food trends to track

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What’s Hot: 7 kid-friendly food trends to track

Kids are fast becoming restaurants’ most important guests. Why? As future customers, attracting their palates and loyalty at a young age can pay off in the long run. The National Restaurant Association surveyed nearly 1,300 professional chefs (American Culinary Federation members) to get their take on what's trending on restaurant menus in 2017. Here are seven kid-friendly trends chefs are watching – and you should, too.

Healthful meals

Chefs are finding new and innovative ways to provide their youngest customers with more healthful and delicious menu items. These newest options are teaching children that food doesn’t have to be boring and bland to be good for you.

Whole grains

Whole grains are becoming more acceptable to kids. More and more, whole wheat is showing up in menu items like pizza, pasta and sandwiches. It’s a great way to offer vitamins, nutrients and fiber, along with a side of YUM!

Gourmet items

Chefs are really excited to introduce kids to a new culinary world far beyond the traditional grilled cheese sandwich or chicken fingers. By doing this, they can start expanding their palates at an early age.

Entrée salads

Salads aren’t always the No. 1 item kids want to eat, especially if they’re picky about food. But chefs are finding different ways to make them a must-have rather than a must-do choice.

Fruit/vegetable side items

Bananas, berries, apple slices, carrots and tomatoes are just some of the fruits and vegetables kids love to eat. Chefs are creating dishes that keep kids eating healthfully and offer fun at the same time. Have a bit of cake, but eat berries, too!

Ethnic-inspired dishes

Kids today are much more interested in exploring exotic flavors that chefs are incorporating into kids’ menus. While pizza and chicken nuggets remain popular, chefs and restaurateurs know the younger set is increaingly willing to try child-friendly versions of sushi, Mexican and Asian foods, to name a few.

Oven-baked foods

From oven-fried chicken to baked potato chips to salmon and even samosas, chefs are ensuring that more healthful and delicious options are readily available for kids to try.

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