Family Nutrition Tips from Chef Curtis Stone

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By Bekah Wright

Love dining out, but shudder at the thought of getting the kids to eat what’s healthy? Perhaps all that’s needed is a shift in thinking. To get the ball rolling, New Parent is talking to chefs and visiting restaurants around the world, looking beyond the proverbial kids’ menu for fare befitting all family members.

Our first chef to step up to the plate—Curtis Stone. Many will recognize the Australian master chef from TLC’s Take Home Chef and guest stints on Oprah and The Biggest Loser. Starting March 6, fans can watch Stone each week via his latest endeavor, the NBC series America’s Next Great Restaurant. We asked the Stone for input on solving a parental dilemma – Is there life beyond chicken fingers?

How can families have a positive dining out experience without being limited to food courts and fast food venues?
Kids are like sponges when they’re really young; whatever they’re introduced to, they’ll grow to like. We all grow up with food that becomes our own version of comfort food. It’s up to the parents to set that tone. Show me a kid in India who says, “I hate curry,” or a kid in Japan who says, “I won’t eat raw fish.” I really believe the best thing parents can do is open kids up. Don’t be scared to order off the regular menu and keep things interesting. There are a million choices out there.

Do you think kids’ menus need to evolve?
Many kids’ menus consist mostly of burgers, fries and pizza. I look at them and think, why would we give the worst food to the kids? Surely, we want to give them the most nutrients and the best quality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going against the grain. The amazing thing about supply and demand is, as soon as you start to demand it, the marketplace will supply it. As soon as parents request items in restaurants like grilled chicken and steamed vegetables for their kids, the restaurants will respond by saying, “Alright, well, that’s what they want, let’s change the menu.”

Are there things parents can do at home to start expanding the family palate?
Cook with them. I started cooking at age five with my grandmother. It’s a great way to get kids interested in food, whether it’s making pancakes together on Sundays or teaching them how the fruit served on the pancakes changes with the seasons from berries in summertime to apples and pears in the winter. Education for kids is key. As soon as you introduce them to a food, it becomes more commonplace for them.

Ready to get started? Following is a recipe for Caramelized Nectarines with Yogurt and Honey” from Stone’s book Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone. “You can’t imagine how good this is,” says Stone. “The honey and sugar make a golden crust on the fruit, and the combination of hot nectarines and cold yogurt is fantastic. If you have some caramelized nectarines left over, they are just as good cold or mixed into a fruit salad.”

Click here for the recipe

To learn more about Curtis Stone visit his website at America’s Next Great Restaurant debuts March 6 on NBC.

The chef shows us how to have a healthy meal out with the kids (that’s not fast food).

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