Do Your Kids Taste the Rainbow?

As any parent will tell you, kids can have picky palates. Unfortunately, that means the most colorful items they consume in a day might be red licorice, blue raspberry gummies and purple energy drinks. Beige foods like breads, pasta, cereal, potatoes and cookies are tasty, but when they make up the bulk of a child’s meals and snacks, he or she is missing out on lots of important nutrients.

A better plan: Incorporate fruits and vegetables of all different hues into their day. That’s because each color of produce has different vitamins and minerals. For example, red foods have lycopene (it protects against cancer and reduces symptoms of asthma) and green foods are rich in antioxidants (they help with eye health, among other things).

Need some culinary inspiration? Here’s just a sample of the fruits and vegetables that fall into each color:

  • Red: apples, red peppers, cherries, tomatoes, strawberries, watermelon
  • Orange: butternut squash, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, oranges
  • Yellow: mango, pineapple, peaches, yellow peppers, lemons
  • Green: spinach, peas, honeydew, green beans, cucumbers, broccoli, asparagus
  • Blue/Purple: grapes, eggplant, blackberries, figs, blueberries
  • White: mushrooms, jicama, ginger, onions

As any parent knows, it’s not always easy to get kids to eat strange fruits or vegetables (that’s probably why most kid meals come with fries or mashed potatoes as the side). Don’t despair–these five strategies will get even the most selective snacker excited about tasting the rainbow:

  • Turn shopping in the produce section into a game. Ask your kids to point out as many different colored fruits and vegetables as possible and say you have to put at least one from each color in your cart.
  • In the morning, get your kids to draw a rainbow on a piece of paper. Every time they eat a fruit or vegetable, they get to add it to that day’s rainbow. The goal is to get as many colors checked off as possible by the end of the day.
  • When grilling, cook up skewers with a rainbow of vegetables on them. Or for snacks, make fruit kebabs that go from red all the way to purple. You’ll knock out the whole rainbow in one sitting.
  • Don’t forget to be a good example by eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in front of them. It’s a lot harder to encourage your kids to try beets if you won’t touch them yourself.
  • Come up with fun names for the vegetables. For example, asparagus can become Super Spears and broccoli can become Towering Trees.

Need more help getting your kids to eat better? Check out these other blogs:

This blog post is part of #MIKidsCan, an initiative created by Blue Cross Blue Shield Michigan to promote positive change in the health and well-being of Michigan youth. To learn more about the campaign, visit http://www.ahealthiermichigan.org/mikidscan

Photo credit: Breville USA

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