Did your kids eat a rainbow today?

What color is on your kid’s plate during meal time?  Blue, red, purple, green, yellow… YUM YUM!  Well the most common color on kid’s plate is beige or white (pasta, chicken nuggets, etc..).  March is National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme for promoting healthy habits in children is to “Eat Right by Color”. How fun!  It turns out that color is the best way to understand the nutritional density of the fruit or vegetable. The darker the color, the more nutrient dense the fruit or vegetable.  The great thing about this breakdown is that you can substitute alternatives from the same color group to get the same nutrients.

Here’s a breakdown of the nutrients for the different color along with some recipe ideas.

Color Benefits Fruit & Veggies Recipes on yumkid.com
Purple/Blue Good sources of antioxidants like anthocyanin (they make  blueberries a super food). Purple grapes, plums, raisins, dried plums, purple asparagus, purple cabbage, purple carrots, eggplant , purple potatoes Blueberry Yogurt Parfait, Cherry Plum Olive Salad
Yellow and Orange Rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and immune boosters like beta carotene Apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes, organs, tangerines, butternut squash, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes Orange Avocado Mint SaladPumpkin pancakesMoroccan Inspired Carrots,  Sweet Potato fries.
Red Great resource of health promoting compounds such as lycopene, which has been found to fight cancer Cherries, cranberries, red grapes, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, beets, red peppers, tomatoes Watermelon Popsicle (Zoku), Beetroot RiceStrawberry-tini for kids, peanut butter and jelly the healthy way, Strawberry Mint Puree
Green Lots of  folates and carotenoids. Folates help produce red cells, fight anemia and prevent cancer from messing with your DNA. More carotenoids means reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans, leafy greens, peas, snow peas, spinach, zucchini Brussels Sprouts salad,  Roasted BroccoliLentils with Spinach

Here are 5 ways in which you can include this concept in your daily lives:

1)      Pick 2 colors  for the day. So on that day you only eat fruits and vegetables from that color source. Better yet, have your child pick the colors.

2)      Go all out when eating that color – maybe you match your plates or glasses or napkins with the color you are eating to make it more fun.

3)      Pick the color or the favorite color of your child’s favorite Cartoon character. i.e. Dora loves purple – so maybe you eat purple, or SpongeBob is yellow so you eat yellow etc. This can get the child excited and interested in trying something especially since his/her fav. Character loves the color.

4)      Have a rewards system or a color chart that lets you keep track of what veggies and fruits you are eating by color and have the goal to hit all the colors during the day.

5)      Have the fruits and vegetables to the color the kids are wearing that day.

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