Thursday, April 18, 2013

JW Marriott Makes Healthy Menus for Kids. But Who Wants 'Em?

You may not want your children to read this, but it's for their own good, so keep it a secret, if you know what's best for you. In keeping with the well-intended goal of some hotels to provide healthier food choices for the smaller set, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts partnered with nutritionist and author Keri Glassman to create a new JW Kids Menu, helping the 'tween set try to build better eating habits that can be continued at home.

The idea is to present an interactive menu, which will debut in JW hotels this spring with kids favorites, but with a healthy twist. In other words--nix the fake chicken nuggets in favor of grilled organic chicken tenders and say "peace" to processed meatballs and instead, offer the fresh, turkey-made variety.

We like anything that will keep our kids away from The Colonel, but will it go over well when the little ones want to let their hair down (just like parents do), while on vacation?

�With kids� food choices becoming increasingly diverse, we are looking to create dining options that are fresh, healthy and imaginatively tasty,� said Mitzi Gaskins, vice president & global brand manager for JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts. �These items will not only delight kids from a culinary standpoint, but will also let parents know the JW Marriott brand cares about the well-being of their entire family.�

As parents, we love the idea of organic foods nd no doubt we'll try this out with our little ones, not yet jaded by BK and McDs ads. But we can't help feel hesitant that our older kids will go for the whole "locally-sourced" spiel. Has JW met a 12-year old growing boy? We've rarely seen a carrot or celery stick win in any food choice with this set--ranch dressing dip or not, without a buffalo wing on the side.

And who wants to do food battles when you're at a hotel or resort? We're tired enough trying to cajole our 8-month angel into eating her applesauce without battling tweens and teens. We want our vacations to be fun, not filled with food angst. However, we're not giving up hope yet until we see how everything is presented.

The JW Kids Menu, available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is divided into three sections in order to appeal to pain-in-the-tookus tasters. And we're grateful for that.

Kids Nosh � This section will include items such as fresh-cut cucumber and carrot sticks with a low-fat yogurt ranch dip or cheese cubes and grapes. Served with an activity book, crayons and reusable cup, it leaves parents a few minutes peace to choose their own meal.Big Kids � Catering to the junior set, this menu will feature the aforementioned turkey meatballs and grilled organic chicken along with �mini� adult offerings for more sophisticated palatesThis, That & the Other � Designed to "empower kids to make their own healthy choices" (old-school parents will roll their eyes here) these offering let young guests mix-and-match menus with guidance from their parents, "letting them explore a variety of nutritious offerings while encouraging their imaginations." Um, this sounds to us like "Plan C in case Junior throws a tantrum from the damned carrot sticks." But we're trying not to judge! �

�Just as adults should maintain their diet and exercise routines while traveling, kids should as well,� said Keri Glassman.� �Travel presents opportunities to try new things and even lets kids bring new food favorites or habits home with them. The new JW Kids Menu helps kids accomplish just that.�

We agree, in theory. And yet, we like to indulge on the road, too. Why should kids be any different? And we also have seen wasted food left behind from programs like these. And it bugs us.

Here's the thing--good yogurt doesn't have a lot of sugar in it and most adults know that, can accept it (or have accepted it through their doctor's warnings). We rarely see children on vacation who will choose a tart yogurt and fruit over a stack of pancakes. Unless they're from Europe--where Aunt Jemima doesn't live.

Don't get us wrong, we would love these programs to succeed, but we hope that JW is going to seriously present these dishes in a way that veteran parents have been doing for years--with tricks and mirrors.

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