When dinning out with the family… a healthy option is most likely the last thing on your list.  Let’s face it; we go out to eat to grab something quick or something different!  I myself am guilty of indulging in a burrito or burger here and there because it’s easy and everyone gets what they want.  There are times when I just don’t have enough hands or hours in the day to do everything the way I would like to.  When these times arise grabbing something “quick” is almost always the answer.  Unfortunately, after we’ve all eaten… I can’t help but feel a bit of guilt for not making a hot home cooked meal.  Today, I’m here to let you off the hook a bit because if you know all of your options… it’s okay to take a short cut once in a while. 

I’d like to introduce to you, the “Smart Meal” option.  Long story short… this program partners with local restaurants to showcase meal selections that meet the nutritional guidelines specified by the Colorado Department of Health.  I feel that these menu options are invaluable to the family on the go!  So, when I was tapped by LiveWell Colorado to try out some of the meals offered with the “Smart Meal” seal of approval, I was thrilled to give my feedback on the total family experience!

My family and I chose to eat at Qdoba.  We have frequented this quick service restaurant … but never really looked into their healthier options.  As we walked up to the counter to order I was pleasantly surprised to find an entire poster and pamphlets regarding the Smart Meal campaign.  On the menu we found that they offered 3-4 items in both regular and children’s portions.  I had a hard time choosing between the naked burrito and the naked veggie taco salad… but ended up with the salad.  Eric chose the naked streak burrito, Gabriella chose the kids naked burrito with applesauce on the side and Gabriel chose the kids steak taco, also with a side of applesauce.  The kids’ meals came with a beverage choice, and they went for white milk while Eric and I chose Green Tea.  We found that the flavors for the kids’ meals were simple and classic, just how kids like’em… while the regular sized items offered a colorful array of veggies and proteins to compliment the vibrant flavors of each dish.  

At the end of the meal I asked everyone what their favorite part of the evening was.  My kids loved the idea that they were making their own” healthy choices” and my husband didn’t have much to say… but the smile on his face along with a clean plate was a good indicator that he was not only full but satisfied.  This time that guilty feeling was nowhere to be found because I knew that my family’s bellies were full with the good stuff, and that filled me with comfort.  It just goes to show that food can bring a family together… but in time, eating “smart” can keep a family together and healthy for many years to come!