A Fun Way to Get Kids Eating Fruits and Vegetables
Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is considered one of the most important factors of a healthy lifestyle. Phytonutrients, the nutritional super heroes such as carotenoids, flavenoids, isoflavones, organosulfides, lignans, and polyphenols, along with other plant-based compounds, are getting a lot of well-deserved publicity these days.
Research indicates phytonutrients can stimulate the immune system; neutralize free radicals; balance hormone levels; and they also possess anti-viral and antibacterial properties. All of this means they can reduce the risk of the frightening and prevalent diseases of our time: from cancer, to heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and more.
Okay, so the Fightin’ Phytos make great allies in the quest for good health, and healthy eating habits learned and practiced in childhood are likely to be continued throughout adulthood, but how can you get finicky kids to swallow all of this? Two seemingly unrelated, but very nearly universal truths spring to mind:
1) Kids often don’t want to eat foods that are good for them.
2) Kids love rainbows.
Try combining both truths for a fun and healthy activity where you are literally eating a rainbow!
Using the acronym for the colors of the rainbow, R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet – pronounced, ROY – gee – biv) work together to create a list containing as many fruits and vegetables as you can to represent each color.
Many foods (peppers, potatoes, corn, carrots, tomatoes, grapes, plums, etc.) come in different colors, and can be added to more than one list, but just be sure that the part you are eating the colorful part(s) (i.e. one eats a red, yellow, or green apple peel, but not a red or yellow banana peel).
Once you have your lists in hand, it’s time for a family field trip! Local farmers markets are wonderful places for fresh and often, less expensive produce, but the supermarket will work in a pinch.
Purchase at least two or three items from each of your “rainbow lists”
and paper plates in each color (party store may be needed).
Prepare your fruits and veggies any way you choose. Many are quite delicious raw, but more nutrients are often released through gentle cooking. Plan recipes using your rainbow of ingredients prior to, or following your excursion. Serve them up on plates of corresponding colors (or ones decorated with non-toxic markers or crayons). Arrange them in an arc and take pictures of your eye-catching and lip-smacking rainbow, then enjoy!
The broader the spectrum of colors you and your kids consume on a regular basis, the more you’ll be following that rainbow to a treasure more precious than a pot of gold: a healthier, happier family!
Rainbow produce suggestions:
BLUE/INDIGO/VIOLET (a.k.a. Purple)
Blue and black berries
Blue potatoes (and chips)
Note- did you know you can buy yellow and purple cauliflower?