Why should your kids be eating a rainbow every day? Each color group provides a unique set of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. When kids eat from the 5 color groups it becomes an easy and fun way to ensure that they are benefitting from this wide spectrum of nutrients.
By breaking produce down into groups of fire-engine red, bright orange, sunshine yellow, emerald green and rich blue/purples you can make eating fruits and vegetables fun for your kids and we all know that kids love to have fun!
So how do you get your kids to eat a rainbow? As parents, we need to get into the habit of serving fruits and veggies at every meal and snack! If you do the typical 3 meals and 2 snacks per day then you have five opportunities a day to get your kids eating colorful fruits and vegetables! I encourage you to make this fun and keep it light, no pressure and no battles. If your child starts off by eating just one color a day that is a great start…you can build up to a rainbow over time. Healthy bodies are made one bite at a time so celebrate every step towards the rainbow!
Breakfast: This is an important meal and one where you can easily add fruit or veggies. If your family eats dairy and your kids like to dip their fruit, Greek yogurt works well! Sometimes I’ll incorporate the fruit into the meal, such as a bowl of yogurt, granola and apple chunks. Or I’ll add a handful of Raisins to a bowl of oatmeal. Other mornings we’ll make a colorful fruit smoothie! If your family eats eggs you can easily add some baby spinach or other veggies such as chopped up peppers or green onions to accentuate this meal.
Snack: Veggie Time! Try offering veggies in different ways such as sliced, cubed, grated, changing the appearance and texture of veggies can work magic for picky eaters. We also like to serve snacks on a cute plate or in a muffin tray to make it a little more interesting!
Lunch: Sandwiches are a great way to add veggies to a meal! Sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, leafy lettuce, avocado all work well in a sandwich. If you’re not having sandwiches, make sure there is a plate of veggies for your kids. By keeping track of the colors eaten at breakfast and snack time, we then offer a color or two that hasn’t been eaten yet to make sure we reach our goal of five colors.
Snack: Fruit Time! Do yourself a favor and keep snacks simple, for example a little bowl of frozen blueberries is a tasty treat that doesn’t take more than a few seconds to prepare. Start thinking of snack time as fruit/vegetable time, in our house if you want a snack it’s automatically only a fruit or vegetable. If you don’t do snacks at your house then it’s extra important that you serve at least one produce item at each meal, ideally two, so that your children will reach the goal of five colors a day.
Dinner: We always have a vegetable with dinner! Whether it’s a salad, roasted veggies, raw veggie slices, it’s important to get into the habit of always including a veggie! We also try to include veggies in our main dish; for example we add things like zucchini, carrots, and tomatoes to spaghetti sauce. At this point in the day be sure to think about what colors still need to be eaten…then serve a vegetable that belongs to the color group that is needed.
Dessert: Fruit again! If we re-think what “dessert” is, we see that it can actually be a fantastic time to get in another serving of fruit! Fresh fruit over a scoop of frozen yogurt, apple slices with a sprinkle of cinnamon, frozen bananas made into ice cream…the possibilities are endless.
When it comes down to it what we eat and serve our families is all about habit and those habits can be healthy or unhealthy ones, you get to decide. Once you get yourself into the habit of serving a fruit and/or vegetable at every meal, it will become a natural part of your meal planning. Just remind yourself that your kids need FIVE to THRIVE!
How many colorful fruits and veggies do you and your kids eat a day?