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Eating Out Can Be Healthy

Eat Like a Healthy Kid

by Nancy Ransohoff

Eating out and sticking to a healthy diet can be a challenge, especially with kids and their sometimes picky palates. But we’re lucky to have a buffet of delicious options from family-friendly beachside cafes to easy-breezy pizza joints, where kids and their grown-ups can eat happily and healthfully. Here are a few time-tested and kid-approved spots in the Santa Barbara area:

Padaro Beach Grill (3765 Santa Claus Lane, Carpinteria, (805) 566-9800, offers ocean breezes, spectacular views and a casual, fun vibe. Sit at a picnic table overlooking the beach and dig into fish tacos, fresh salads, lean ground turkey or veggie burgers or grilled chicken sandwiches. Kids love playing in the giant sand pit and running around on the lawn. Other flip-flop-friendly beach spots include East Beach Grill (1118 E. Cabrillo Blvd., (805) 965-8805), where families sit on the patio in swimsuits just steps from the sand. Pass up the burgers and fries and nosh on blueberry wheat germ pancakes for breakfast, fresh salads for lunch, and sip a smoothie. A swing set and kids’ playground are a few feet away. Shoreline Beach Café (801 Shoreline Dr., (805) 568-0064) is another spot where kids can play in the sand just a beachball’s toss away, then dine on a garden burger or turkey dog and wash it down with a strawberry or mango smoothie. At Pizza Mizza (140 S. Hope Ave., Suite 102-A, (805) 564-3900) in La Cumbre Plaza, choose from a variety of veggie-topped pizzas and fresh salads from Mandarin Chicken to Loaded Spinach. Don’t miss the thin-crust piccolo pizzas (add some veggies) at longtime favorite Petrini’s (Santa Barbara and Goleta locations). From the para los ninos menu at Los Arroyos (Santa Barbara, Montecito and Camarillo locations), kids might opt for chicken soft tacos with milk or juice. Kids of all ages love Solvang’s Chomp (1693 Mission Dr., (805) 688-7733) and its updated diner vibe—try the fish tacos or turkey burger with apple slices. Other family-friendly local standbys include The Natural Café (nine locations), featuring fresh, healthy dishes from salads and homemade soups to sandwiches, whole-wheat flatbread pizzas, and vegetarian specialties like the Buddha burrito with sautéed veggies, pinto beans and rice.

And now it’s easier than ever to make healthy choices at chain restaurants from Chipotle to McDonald’s, thanks to a federal law (part of the Affordable Care Act) requiring restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets to post calorie counts. So eat up and eat healthy!

Nancy_Ransohoff_LR.jpgNancy Roberts Ransohoff is a Rhode Island native who has lived in Santa Barbara for 22 years and raised two daughters here. A former editor for Bon Appetit and Architectural Digest magazines and the Bon Appetit books, Nancy covers restaurants for Westways and writes for local publications including Seasons and Montecito Magazine. On weekends, you’ll find her at the farmer’s market or hiking Tunnel Trail.


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