(ARA) - Summer has officially arrived, and with it, the busiest restaurant season of the year. Families will use the soaring temperatures as an excuse to get out of the kitchen and opt instead to dine out, savoring a taste of summer before the season ends. Regardless of the season, healthful menu options are a growing trend enjoyed by millions of Americans thanks to restaurants nationwide and the National Restaurant Association's Kids LiveWell program.
Kids LiveWell, a first-of-its-kind voluntary industry program developed in collaboration with Healthy Dining's team of registered dietitians, provides parents with a growing selection of healthful children's menu choices when dining out. Celebrating its one-year anniversary in July, the program continues to expand. More than 100 participating restaurant brands provide and promote kids' meals that meet specific nutritional criteria, including fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and/or low-fat dairy.
Families can enjoy those healthy menu items at more than 29,000 restaurant locations nationwide. Participating restaurants are listed at HealthyDiningFinder.com and include everything from fast-casual restaurants and local independent restaurants to steakhouses and pizza parlors.
For busy families that find themselves constantly on the go, the program has made it even easier to check for healthful menu items before even stepping foot in a restaurant with the new Kids LiveWell app. The free app enables parents to get instant recommendations for nutritious and delicious dining on-the-go across the nation. It's even geo-coded so users can quickly find the nearest participating restaurants. It's available in the Android Market and iTunes app store, and can be downloaded for free at Restaurant.org/KidsLiveWell.
It's obvious that there is a need for this type of program, as evidenced by the fact that for the third consecutive year, healthful kids' meals topped the list of hot trends on quick-service menus, according to the 2011 Restaurant Trends Survey. And in the 2011 National Household Survey, 72 percent of adults said they are trying to eat healthier now at restaurants than they did two years ago. With participation in the program exploding in a short period of time, it's clear that the industry has responded, and restaurant companies across the industry are eager to showcase their healthful choices. As a result, parents are able to find a growing selection of healthful children's menu options they can feel good about feeding their families.
The Kids LiveWell program's expansive list of healthful menu items helps ensure families can beat the heat and dine out together this summer and any season with nutritious, well-balanced meals.