March is National Nutrition Month and their theme this year is to Eat A Rainbow! I couldn’t agree more! Using a rainbow as a guide, you can ensure that your children benefit from a wide range of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
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 and easy for your kids! Even at a very young age, kids can easily grasp the concept of eating a rainbow.
So how do you get your kids to actually eat a rainbow?
As parents, we need to get into the habit of serving fruits and veggies at every meal and snack! Start off with ones that they like (if they don’t like any…stay tuned for my next guest post!) then you can slowly try new produce! If you do the typical 3 meals and 2 snacks and dessert per day then you have at least 6 opportunities a day to get your kids eating colorful fruits and vegetable!
Make it fun and keep it light, no pressure, no battles. If your child starts off by eating one color a day, that is a great start. You can build up to an entire rainbow over time. Healthy bodies are made one bite at a time so celebrate every step towards the rainbow!
How to Eat a Rainbow of Fruits and Vegetables
Breakfast: Always provide a fruit! Bananas, apple slices, seedless grapes, pears slices. If you eat dairy and your kids like to dip their fruit, yogurt works well! Try incorporating the fruit into the meal, such as a bowl of yogurt, granola and apple chunks, adding a handful of raisins to a bowl of oatmeal, or making a yummy fruit smoothie!
Snack: Veggie Time! Cut up celery, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes. Once again, a dip might help encourage your little one, try hummus, or a homemade dressing (a store bought salad dressing works fine too)! Try serving it on a fun plate or in a muffin tray to make it a little more interesting!
Lunch: Sandwiches are a great place to add veggies! Sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, leafy lettuce, avocado slices all work well in a sandwich. If you’re not having sandwiches, always make sure there is a plate of veggies based on the colors eaten at snack time and then offer a color or two that hasn’t been eaten yet.
Snack: Fruit Time! At this point in the day think about what colors still need to be eaten…then serve a fruit that belongs to the color group that is needed. A little bowl of frozen blueberries is a tasty treat!
Dinner: Always have a vegetable with dinner! Salads, steamed veggies, raw veggie slices should all make their way onto your table! Try to include veggies in your cooking by adding things like zucchini, carrots, tomatoes to spaghetti sauce.
Dessert: Fruit again! Think strawberry slices and raspberries to top off a meal. For a treat, serve them on top of frozen yogurt! If you re-think what counts as “dessert”, it’s easy to fit in another serving of fruit!
Kia Robertson is a mom and the creator of the Today I Ate A Rainbow kit; a tool that helps parents establish healthy eating habits by setting the goal of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day.