Freshii debuts health-oriented kids' menu

Freshii, the 31-unit fast-casual chain based in Toronto, has joined a growing number of operators targeting health-conscious parents by launching a nutrition-centric kids’ menu.

The new menu contains a chicken quesadilla in honey wheat pita bread, $3.99; a wrap with strawberries, banana, organic granola and light cream cheese in a whole wheat tortilla, $3.99; a chicken teriyaki bowl with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, teriyaki sauce and a choice of brown rice or rice noodles, $5.99; and a chicken noodle soup with tomatoes, corn and jack and Cheddar cheeses, $5.99.

Kids also have the option of assembling their own salad, soup or bowl with four toppings and one dressing for $4.99.

“Children’s eating habits are molded by the choices we make for them,” said Freshii founder and chief executive Matthew Corrin. “And unfortunately, as parents, it is nearly impossible to find fresh and healthy food choices for our children. After trying to make smart choices for my own 3-year-old daughter, I realized it was up to Freshii to give parents and their children a colorful selection of tasty, quick, and healthy meals when a home-cooked one wasn't possible.”

Earlier this year, Carino’s Italian, the casual dining operator in Austin, Texas, launched a kids’ menu featuring only dishes with fewer than 500 calories.

The $4.79 items included:

• Pizza pasta — chopped spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce and topped with sliced grilled chicken, pepperoni and mozzarella

• Chicken and broccoli penne with Alfredo sauce

• Grilled mozzarella and turkey panini served with mandarin oranges — also available as plain cheese panini.

• Pizza dippers — cheese pizza slices served with tomato sauce for dipping.

• Grilled chicken with either spaghetti and tomato sauce or Italian vegetables

• Cheese-stuffed pasta with tomato sauce

Carino’s kids menu was launched a month after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee urged restaurant to create more healthful kids’ menus in order to combat obesity.

Family-dining brand Denny’s added more healthful options to its kids’ menus last year. The 1,500-unit chain added such items as apple dunkers with caramel sauce, and “High Diving Veggies” — carrots, celery and cucumber with a dip.

At the same time it removed French toast sticks, hot dogs and D-Fusion sugar beverage packets from the kids’ menus.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected] [3].