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Take a Break from the Kitchen and Check Out These Places Where Kids Eat For Free

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Picture this: It’s a Wednesday evening around dinnertime. You’re out and about after picking up your kids from their most recent afternoon activity. They’re starving. You’re exhausted. Your refrigerator and pantry are a little scarce on the ingredients needed to prepare dinner – another errand you meant to run today but ran out of time with everything else going on. Also, your spouse is out of town for business so it’s just you and the kids tonight. You need dinner quickly, inexpensively and with no clean up. Sound familiar?

This scenario, in various capacities, happens to all of us from time to time, but this Wednesday is different. You pull into Hobee’s to grab a hot meal for yourself and the kids. As you walk into the restaurant, you find it lightly filled with customers, warm and inviting, and it isn’t until you sit down that you’re reminded kids eat free Wednesday nights. You’ve accomplished your goal and picked up a quick, inexpensive, tasty meal for you and your family.

Luckily, there are places around the Peninsula where kids eat free. Whether it be a Wednesday at Hobee’s or Monday at Jack’s Prime Burgers & Shakes, every day of the week there’s somewhere to take the kids for dinner.

Happi House Teriyaki 286 W. El Camino Real, Mountain View
Kids eat free on Sundays with the purchase of an adult numbered meal. All kids’ meals are served with Asian chicken salad, white or beef flavored rice and their choice of apple juice or a soft drink. Choices include: grilled chicken tenders, teriyaki beef, teriyaki pork, crispy chicken fingers and a chicken drumstick meal.




Dickey’s Barbecue Pit 570 North Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View
Children under 12 can choose between chicken nuggets or a meat or sandwich plate as well as a drink with the purchase of an adult entrée (one kids’ meal per adult entrée).





Jack’s Prime Burgers & Shakes 3723 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo
Purchase an adult meal on Mondays and kids eat free. Kids can choose between a hot dog, two prime sliders, grilled cheese and two chicken fingers (all options come with fries).






IKEA 1700 E Bayshore Rd, East Palo Alto
Get up to two kids’ meals (under 12) with the purchase of an adult entrée. Kids’ choices may include organic pasta with tomato sauce, chicken tenders with French fries, Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes (chicken and veggie balls are also available), mac and cheese with vegetables and grilled chicken with carrots, strawberries and string cheese.

Denny’s 1201 Broadway, Redwood City
On Tuesdays from 4 to 10 p.m. kids eat free at Denny’s.  Have breakfast for dinner (junior banana berry pancake breakfast, chocolate chip pancakes, build your own junior Grand Slam and junior French toast) or choose between kid-friendly favorites of a junior cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, spaghetti, mac and cheese or grilled chicken on a stick.

Hobees 4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto
Get one kids (under 10) entrée per adult meal at Hobee’s on Wednesdays after 5 p.m. Kids can choose between Hobee’s soup or salad bar, nachitos (cheese, chips and chicken), peanut butter and jelly with fruit or chips, grilled cheese with fruit or chips, turkey sliders with smiley potatoes, cheese quesadilla with tortilla chips, spaghetti with marinara, penne pasta with pesto or alfredo sauce, chicken nuggets with baby carrots and smiley potatoes or liver and onions with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, eggplant and beets.

El Torito 388 Vintage Park Drive, Foster City
Kids can choose from a variety of favorites at El Torito (also in Milpitas) and eat free on Wednesdays (one kids’ meal with purchase of any adult entrée).







Tomatina 401 South B Street, San Mateo
After 4 p.m. on Thursday kids under 10 can eat for free with the purchase of an adult meal. Kids’ meal picks include: Caesar salad; vegetable dippers (carrots, broccoli and celery with ranch dressing); mac and cheese; spaghetti or penne with butter and Parmesan, cream or tomato sauce; spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli with creamy tomato sauce or pizza.

Pho Hoa Noodle Soup 220 Castro Street, Mountain View
Every day after 2 p.m. kids eat free at Pho Hoa Noodle Soup. Soups include beef, chicken or vegetarian options.

Menu choices are subject to change. Tell us what other kid-friendly - and kids eat free - locations you love!

Tags:  dining out  food  kids eat free 

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Health: Nutritional Quality of Children's Menus Not Improving

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Updated: Sunday, January 15, 2017

The American Journal of Preventative Medicine has been studying the nutritional content in children’s meals since 2012, estimating the changes in calories, saturated fat and sodium in the menu items of 45 chain restaurants.

According to the journal, restaurant food is widely consumed by children and associated with many of their poor diets, and while many restaurants have been committed to reducing the nutritional quality of the meals offered, there hasn’t been an industry-wide impact.

Of the kids’ meals researched, the average entrée far exceeded recommendations for sodium and saturated fat, while desserts were as calorie-dense as meals and contained nearly twice the amount of saturated fats as an entrée.

In an article on, Alyssa Moran, a doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School says that  "Although some healthier options were available in select restaurants, there is no evidence that these voluntary pledges have had an industry-wide impact. As public health practitioners, we need to do a better job of engaging restaurants in offering and promoting healthy meals to kids."

The study’s data was obtained from MenuStat, where researchers examined the nutritional content of 4,016 beverages, entrees, side dishes and desserts offered at 45 of the nation’s top 100 fast food, fast casual and full-service restaurant chains between 2012 and 2015. Fifteen of those studied are Kids LiveWell, an initiative launched in 2011 to improve the quality of restaurant meals for children, restaurant participants.

Tags:  food  health  nutrition 

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Healthy Start to the New Year -- plus recipe

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Updated: Monday, January 2, 2017

When introducing new foods, it’s helpful to give kids what I call a “food bridge”—an easy path to help them travel from familiar foods to new foods. Take, for example, risotto with sautéed kale and bacon. Your kids probably like the flavor of pasta. Invite them to take a taster—one very, very, small bite—of one small piece of rice. Build on that by inviting a taste of bacon. They probably like that flavor too. Then work towards combining flavors. Try bacon and risotto, two approved tastes, with a teeny, tiny speck of kale. Then stop right there. In trying to get kids to give something new a try, set expectations! A teeny, tiny taster is all you need to start building a deeper love of wholesome foods. You don’t need them to eat a full plate, or even a whole serving. You just need them to be willing to try again (and again). It can take upwards of 15 exposures to a new food before your child might warm up to it. Big servings will only overwhelm reluctant eaters. Use espresso cups or small teaspoons to serve up your tasters. Remember: Small steps will get you there, not one great leap forward only to stumble backwards.    

When you’re ready to take your new food adventures to the next level, it’s time to start cooking together. As a busy parent, I know that can feel onerous. But what if I told you that all it takes is 30 minutes each week? That in the time you’d spend watching an episode of Modern Family, you’ll help your child build skills that are just as important as math and reading? Kids who cook their own food are more likely to eat wholesome foods, for a lifetime. Even more, the diets of young children have been directly linked to their health as adults. The key is to cook with your kids, not for your kids. And to get past the mental barrier of cooking with kids, you need to reframe it.


Instead of thinking of cooking as a chore (“I just need to get dinner on the table!”) or a big, fat mess (“Cooking with my kids is chaotic!”), think of cooking like a craft activity. Set up your cooking project on a low kids table, with all of your supplies within easy reach. Forget about working at the kitchen counter—it’s too high for kids even when they’re perched on a stool. Focus on exploring together, rather than creating the perfect dish. Let your kids do as much of the measuring, stirring, chopping, and sautéing as you can handle. Muster the patience you need to let go and let them do it, for 30 minutes (tip: have them work over a baking sheet to help contain the mess). The more freedom you afford them, the greater the payoff.

Brussels Sprouts Chips Recipe

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves 4


1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Using your fingers, peel away the leaves from the sprouts.

3. Place the leaves on a rimmed baking sheet. Add the oil and salt and toss to combine.

4. Bake for 10 minutes, then toss the leaves in the pan. Reduce the heat to 250°F and bake the sprouts for 10 minutes more, or until the leaves are crispy and almost burnt. Let your kids watch closely to figure out the best timing for your oven.

Tip: To peel the leaves, cut off the ends, turn the sprouts over, and gently pry the leaves away sta

rting at the stem. Trim off the ends as you go to make it easier to peel away the layers. This takes patience (and time), but it’s a fun activity for your kids. As you get closer to the center, the leaves will become too tight to peel, so simply save the small pieces for sautéing or roasting.

Cook Together

Kids can pry sprouts from the stalks and peel away the leaves. This step takes some patience, but the delicious reward is well worth their effort!

Eat Your Colors

These little cabbages may be small in size, but they’re big on Vitamin C!

Invite Exploration

Ask kids, “I wonder if Brussels sprouts taste different depending on their color?” Then experiment together to find out!

Keep Trying

Brussels Sprouts can be bitter for burgeoning palettes. The secret to mellowing their flavor is roasting. Kids love the crispy, almost burnt leaves.

Reprinted from The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year, with 150 Recipes.

A mom of two, Jennifer Tyler Lee is the author of  The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year and the creator of the award-winning series of healthy eating games, Crunch a Color®. 

Tags:  cooking  food  recipe 

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Navigating Holiday Dinners with a Picky Eater: A No Stress Holiday Guide

Posted By Communications Manager, Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Holiday dinners can be stressful, even for the most experienced parents. They are many times more stressful if you have a picky eater at your table. What you need is a foolproof plan that takes the stress out and puts the fun in.


Never is there a greater focus on food than at the holidays. And for parents of picky eaters, holiday meals can be immensely stressful family situations to navigate. If it wasn’t bad enough that you have to endure the never-ending playback of family stories from Great Aunt Bea, fate deals you a bum hand and you’re trapped at a linen-lined table with hot dogs hidden in your purse—poised to pounce when your toddler refuses everything on the table except the dinner rolls. Layering stress upon stress is a recipe for a meltdown, for both you and your child.


I know, because I’ve walked more than a mile in those shoes.


I’m here to tell you that there’s a simple solution to your picky eater problem. And it’s counter-intuitive. To get your kids to eat what’s good for them, you need to take a page from the junk food marketing playbook. Stop talking about “healthy.” Take the focus off the food and make it fun.


After years of testing, experimenting, tweaking, researching, gathering feedback from and cooking with thousands of parents of picky eaters across the country, I’ve distilled my experiences down to a few simple principles you can follow to take the stress out of mealtime and get your kids to actually eat the wholesome foods you make. And there’s more good news: what works for your standard, run-of-the-mill weeknight meals can be applied just as easily to your holiday meals, with a few small modifications.


Set Expectations Over Time

Holiday dinner isn’t the time to expect your kids to be healthy eating rock stars. It’s too much pressure—on everyone. Instead, think small steps, big changes. The key to creating a deep and lasting change in the way that your family eats is to take it slow and be consistent. Take the pressure off the big holiday meals and focus on your longer-term goal. No single meal is going to make the difference; it’s a series of consistent, positive experiences around food that will.


Explore Together

In the weeks leading up to the holiday, plan to explore a few new foods together. Try one each week. You don’t want the first encounter with a new food to be at a high pressure holiday dinner. Holiday regulars that can be super fun to explore with kids include Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, butternut squash, pomegranate and persimmons. Instead of concentrating on eating, focus on fun adventures that the food inspires, like figuring out how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate, peeling Brussels sprouts (and finding the Fibonacci sequence inside—a fantastic math adventure), and scouting out a bunch of different varieties of pumpkins at a local farm. Let your kids lead your new food exploration. Prompt them with open-ended questions like, “I wonder if the color on the inside of a pumpkin changes depending on the color on the outside?” Follow their questions with more questions, like, “I’m not sure why Brussels sprouts grow on a stalk. Let’s explore together to find out.” Remember, it’s about the journey, not the food.


Reinstate the Kids’ Menu (With a Twist)

The more you can involve your kids in everything, from choosing food for your meals to preparing the dishes, the faster you’ll be able to make progress changing the way your picky eater eats. An easy way to do this during the holidays is to enlist your kids to help create the menu. It is even better if you cook the recipes together and then let them serve. Do not have a separate kids menu. It’s fine to prepare dishes in a way that allows everyone at the table to assemble to their preference—more or less onion, sauce on the side—but it’s important for everyone to be eating the same meal. Invite your kids to help make the menu, and create names for each dish featuring the person who voted for it: Mom’s Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Catherine’s Brussels Sprouts Chips, James’ Jumpin’ Green Beans, Gram’s Classic Roast Turkey, Dad’s Downhome Quinoa Stuffing, Papa’s Poppin’ Pomegranate Sauce. When you give thanks, invite each person to share why they added their dish to the menu. It’s an easy way to get everyone involved, and your kids will beam with pride when the time comes to serve (and eat) their signature dish.


Don’t Say the H Word

There is one word that parents should never utter. No matter how many battles there are over broccoli, if you want your kids to eat wholesome food, and build a lifetime of good eating habits, don’t dare say it’s “healthy.” When Great Aunt Bea pipes in with, “Eat your greens, James! They’ll help you grow big and strong,” you have my permission to tell her to zip it. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research confirms what junk food marketers have known for a long time: telling kids a food is healthy will make them eat less of it. In a study of preschool-aged children, researchers found that when you tell kids a food makes them strong, a perceived health benefit, they’ll conclude the food is not as tasty and consume less of it. It turns out you’d be better off if you said nothing at all. Instead, talk about the deeply delicious flavor of the Brussels sprouts sautéed with bacon, or the sinfully savory flavor of the homemade butternut squash soup. When your kids see you thoroughly enjoying the food you’ve made together, they’ll be many times more inclined to give something new a try.

A mom of two, Jennifer Tyler Lee is the author of The 52 New Foods Challenge: A Family Cooking Adventure for Each Week of the Year and the creator of the award-winning series of healthy eating games, Crunch a Color®.

Tags:  food  parenting 

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Member Musings: Peanut Butter Smoothie

Posted By Communications Manager, Wednesday, March 30, 2016
I stumbled upon this amazing concoction one day almost by accident. I love to put together strange combinations in the kitchen, but who would have thought about nutritional yeast in a smoothie?

Years ago I discovered the secret of mixing nutritional yeast with peanut butter when making homemade peanut butter cups. Apparently the nutritional yeast gives the peanut butter a more full flavor.

So, why not try it in your morning smoothie? It might not be everyone’s, um, cup of tea — but I think it works! Go ahead and see for yourself.

1 cup almond milk (or coconut milk, or whatever milk you like)
1 banana
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
½ – ¼ C peanuts (or about 2 T peanut butter, depending on what your blender can handle)
ice – as much (or as little) as you like
½ tsp tumeric
1 Tbs maple syrup (optional)

Place all ingredients in the blender and mix until smooth. Pour into a cup and enjoy!

Mama B

PAMP gladly accepts member blog submissions, including anecdotes, advice, confessions, recipes, outing suggestions and more! Want to join in the fun? Submit your own musings.

Tags:  food 

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