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Children's menus in El Paso will change for the healthier
By: Stephanie Guadian
EL PASO, Texas -- Getting kids to eat healthy can be a challenge -- especially when a family is dining out. But the city of El Paso has come up a way to revamp restaurant menus. The goal is to save lives.
When Jesus Roybal opened up Mambo restaurant, he brought many of his family's recipes to the menu.
In fact, his mom is the cook. "I take a lot of pride in the good food we have here," said Jesus Roybal.
Mambo restaurant specializes in Mexican food. But the items on the kids' menu were the same as just about everywhere else -- chicken nuggets, hamburgers, fries and a soda. That's why El Paso's Department of Public Health has come up with a new initiative -- Eat Well El Paso.
A registered dietitian visits a locally owned restaurant, reviews the menu and then comes up with some healthier options for the kids.
Sue Beatty works for the city's health department. "When the restaurants owners get the tips from the restaurant professionals, then they can learn to prepare it a little bit different. Add less salt, use different kind of seasoning. Not use lard. All of that makes a big difference in how many calories, fat and sodium will be in the meal," said Beatty.
Most the young people we asked like the idea and seem to know a lot about making healthy food choices. "Things like fruits, vegetables, salads. Things without high fat, like fish and chicken," said Santiago Reyes.
Mambo restaurant is the first to join the Eat Well El Paso program. The kids' menu now has three options.
The meals have fewer than 500 calories -- and cost less than $5. "I learned that it is all about portion. I learned if you can substitute a few things here and there, you can have a well- balanced meal," said Roybal.
For example: fruit juice replaces soda and pineapple substitutes for French fries.
Eat Well El Paso hopes to help prevent chronic disease down the road. And who knows -- maybe the healthy menu choices may even rub off on mom and dad. "It's good to be part of a change, a healthy change. That's why I'm excited to be on-board.
You can find more information on theEat Well El Paso program at ephealth.com.