I hope you are having a happy and healthy winter!
One of the best ways you can keep your immune system strong and avoid those colds that tend to attack us during the cold winter season is to eat lots of fruits and veggies.
When I talk about how to Create a Plate that Makes You Feel Great, I suggest that we fill half of our plates full of fruits and veggies.
But we get the most benefit from our fruits and veggies when we have a large variety in the kinds of fruits and veggies the we eat.
When I teach kids about eating a variety of fruits and veggies, I try to inspire them to eat a rainbow!
Each of the colors can be associated with health promoting components found in the foods, from antioxidants to vitamins. In this post, I will explain the benefits of each color of the rainbow, and remind everyone that as we seek out our Five a Day (two fruit servings and three vegetable servings) or more, we should be looking for real fruits and veggies.
Beware of wanna-bes (foods that are marketed as being “made from real fruit” and “contains real vegetables” but have other non fruit/veggie sources as their main ingredients).
Why A Rainbow?
Colors in food (if they are natural, of course) often correlate to certain micronutrients. It is fun to understand the benefits of each color group, using the chart below as a guide:
(For more information please visit: www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov)
You might be thinking, how can I possible get all of those colors on my (or my child’s) plate? You might be surprised how easy it is to find fruits and veggies in all colors of the rainbow.
Parents: Use the following as a guide, but allow your child to be your shopper’s assistant in the grocery store (“can you help me find a purple vegetable?”), see what kind of colorful plates you can create.
Fruits and Veggies: A Rainbow of Colors
Give me 5! (Servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Three servings of veggies, and two of fruit. One serving = approximately ½ cup)
Yes, your child should be eating more vegetables than fruit. I think we might all agree that getting our kids to eat vegetables is a bit more difficult than fruit. How to get in all those veggies? If our kids need three ½ cup servings per day, that is a total of about 1 1/2 cups of vegetables every day. Here are some examples of ½ cup servings of vegetables that you might find easy to provide your child:
-6 Baby Carrots or 6 Cherry Tomatoes (put in a morning or afternoon snack)
-5 Broccoli Florets (include in your child’s lunch)
-1/2 Sweet Potato (serve at dinner)
We did it! It wasn’t that hard, was it? And just for kicks here are some additional ideas:
-Add veggies to pizza, wraps and sandwiches
-Eat a small salad
-Snack on carrots, celery, and cherry tomatoes
-Add veggies to your favorite pasta/rice dishes
Looking for even more ideas? Check out our recipe database at Make Nutrition Fun.
Fruits, Veggies, and Wanna Bes.
Kids are smart, but so are the big marketing companies that want to sell us foods that they proclaim to be healthy. When I teach kids about fruits and veggies, we go through a fun game that I call “Fruit, Veggie, or Wanna Be!?” I show them some pictures of REAL fruits and vegetables, but then I also include some items that are marketed as “contains real fruit!” or “made with real vegetables!”, and we look at the ingredients list to find out if they are instead a “wanna be” (real fruits and/or vegetables are not listed as a top ingredient). If they are a “wanna be”, I remind them that these foods do not contribute to the total five servings that we want to get each day, and they do not count as far as eating a rainbow! Here are some “wanna be” examples:
I hope you have a very happy and colorful month! As a special gift, you can download my latest children's book about healthy eating, “Where Does a Rainbow Grow?”. The book has been changing the lives of parents and children since its release in 2017. Here is one of the latest reviews on Amazon:
“This is a delightful children's book that meters out interesting nutritional information in easy to understand beautifully crafted rhymes. Children are really drawn in with the rhymes. There are prompts throughout the book to keep your child actively engaged in the learning process. It seems like a game to them, artfully disguising the learning experience. The interaction has the added benefit of helping them retain the information they learn.
The photographs are brilliant and, of course, explosive with color. The crowning touch is the adorable cartoon character, Sammy the Bunny, who makes the journey through the book with you. Every time I turned the page, I found myself looking for where Sammy the Bunny would be hiding next. I enjoyed this book so much I read it twice and even I learned a few nutritional facts I didn't know.
This book is going on my Christmas list for not only my grandkids but my great nieces and nephews too. They all know to expect good books when they see me. It's important to teach children the love of reading at a young age and when you can add nutritional education in that mix it's a great bonus. Children need to learn great nutritional information while they're young. It will stick with them.
I highly recommend this book because it's fun, it's engaging, it's visually stimulating and it's very educational.”