Ellen Briggs thinks children generally do the right thing—at least when it comes to food. “Kids love to eat healthy foods,” she says. “In fact, they will choose healthier foods over other [options].” Briggs is a Boca Raton food consultant, radio show personality and co-founder of Kids Kritics Approved, a local company that recommends healthy foods for families based on nutritional criteria and an all-important blind tasting by real youngsters.
Foods to be “tested” for the tasting are screened for all manner of nasty additives—things like hydrogenated oils, MSG, corn syrups and caffeine. The amount of food processing also is determined, including how it has affected the original nutrients. Then a group of kids between the ages of 5 and 13 have at it, answering the following four questions along the way: 1) Does it look good? 2) Does it smell good? 3) Does it taste good? and 4) Should your family buy, serve or make it? The results must be at least 70 percent positive before they are given the Kid Kritics’ seal of approval, which is at the center of Briggs’ business.
Why the fuss? Because pack ing that healthy lunch is more important than ever. “Kids need protein and complex carbs and water to finish the day on a high note,” she says. “They need to be refueled, so you want to give them those foods.”
Briggs says children respond most to “finger foods,” and she likes the idea of lunches filled with cut-up fruit, cut-up veggies, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumbers and dips—especially bean dips and hummus. What she doesn’t like in a lunchbox is candy, soda, sports drinks or any foods with artificial flavors or ingredients.
Just in time for the start of school, Briggs offers a weekly lunch box menu (above), which she says meets “mid-day nutritional needs of protein, complex carbohydrates, good fats, dairy, whole grains and water.”