Happy Summer! It is officially picnic time!
This season of summer is also a great opportunity to make changes to benefit the health of your entire family.
When reaching for quick-fix items to fill our picnic baskets, we put our family’s health at risk given the depleting effects of processed foods. Yes, I know, we want to make our picnic baskets colorful and fun, but those nasty artificial ingredients can cause hyperactivity in children and end up ruining the day as hyper-energy turns to low energy, crankiness, and tears.
How can we make our picnic baskets fun, colorful AND a source of wonderful sustained energy for more family fun? I’d like to suggest a format you can cheerfully call “Rainbow On-The-Go.” Intrigued? I will bet your kids will be too. Most children are fascinated by rainbows and you just might find yourself with kids eagerly asking for and consuming lots of colorful fruits, veggies and whole foods that support their growing bodies.
What is a Rainbow On-The-Go?
The idea is to assemble a colorful array of fruits, veggies, cheeses, meats, or even whole-grain bread on a stick, kabob style. Simply arrange the items like a rainbow. Here is an example:
Red: Red cherry tomatoes
Orange/Yellow: Sun-gold cherry tomatoes
Green: Basil leaves
Blue/Purple: Roasted eggplant chunks
White: Fresh Mozzarella pearls
I call this one Savory “Italian-inspired” Rainbow On-The-Go, but you can also have sweet snacks as well by simply using a colorful array of fruits (raspberries, orange slices, grapes, blueberries, and coconut). Yum!
Why Kids Love a Rainbow On-The-Go
One of the most important things to remember when feeding kids is that presentation is a huge part of the experience. If your kids won’t try a new food, present it in a totally different manner and see what happens! As a nutrition educator, I have seen even the most self-proclaimed “picky” kids gobble fruits and veggies when told to “give it go, eat a rainbow!”. Here are just a few reasons why a Rainbow-On-The-Go will be a hit at your next summer picnic.
Fun to Dip. Snacks on a stick are perfect for dipping. Whether it is a sweet yogurt dip, nut butter or hummus, food on a stick can be dipped in a variety of flavors!
Portable. Snacks on a stick are portable and can be eaten at picnics, before a music recital, or after a sports game.
Provide Variety and Nutrition. Every color from Mother Earth has a benefit for the body to support a healthy body from the inside out. The stick format allows the snack to be an artistic creation and visually appealing.
Assembled by kids. If they have a role in making it, they are more likely to eat it!
Why Mom and Dad Will Love a Rainbow On-The-Go
Ahhh…the peacefulness of a steady blood sugar level throughout a long day of play can’t be beaten. There is more peace in knowing that Mother Earth has a plan for us when we consume a variety of fruits and veggies. As I teach kids in my picture book series Give It a Go, Eat a Rainbow and Where Does a Rainbow Grow? each natural color helps the body in a specific way. The simple recipe for health is as follows:
Red: Healthy heart and brain
Orange/Yellow: Glowing skin and clear vision
Green: Strong bones and teeth
Blue/Purple: Overall energy
White: Mineral balance and digestion
To your good health!
*Note on safety: Children should never walk or run with food on a stick. Always remember good table manners and sit while eating! Very young children should not have food on a stick (use your own judgment and supervise).