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  • Writer's pictureMary Brophy

Inspire your child to eat healthy with rainbow foods

Most parents know that eating healthy includes consuming a rainbow of colours from different fruits and vegetables. But what are rainbow foods?

With so much nutritional info out there it’s easy to get confused about what foods we should be offering our children.

So what are rainbow foods? Plants contain different pigments, or phytonutrients, which give them their color. Eating colourful foods, or the “rainbow”, ensures that your child will receive a broad range of nutrients. Curious to know more about rainbow foods and their importance? Keep reading below to find out.

Why are colorful rainbow foods so important?

Children eat first with their eyes, that’s a fact. Brightly colored foods appeal to little palates. Using the rainbow is a great starting point for food choices as it encourages nutritional variety. The more colours they eat, the more benefits they will get.

According to a report based on the data from the Vlaams Instituut Gezond Leven in Belgium, only 8% of toddlers eat home-cooked vegetables more than once a week. That’s very little and these toddlers end up consuming less than the recommended 100–150 grams of vegetables per day.

So what exactly is in a rainbow and how can you get your child excited about eating a range of colorful foods? Here are simple tips to make it easy for the whole family to eat the rainbow.

Health benefits of rainbow foods

Red foods make your heart stronger

Red foods are full of powerful antioxidants like lycopene and anthocyanins. Their anti-inflammatory properties help keep your heart healthy, help improve your memory, and can lower your risk of cancer.

They can be found in red bell peppers, strawberries, apples, beets and tomatoes.

Here are some tips to add those foods in your families menu:

  • hide vegetables in your tomato sauce which can be used on pasta, as a soup, or spread on pizza. You can try this this recipe recipe;

  • serve a grilled cheese lunch with a bowl of tomato soup;

  • add raw beets to your next berry smoothie. It will give it a beautiful pink color (warning: beets stain so don’t drink this on a white couch!).

Yellow and orange foods help you see better

Yellow and orange foods are high in vitamin C and A, as well as several antioxidants such as carotenoids and bioflavonoids. Not only do they help maintain a healthy heart, but they also improve your vision, boost your immune system, and promote healthy joints.

They are found in lemons, corn, banana, squash, and pineapple.

Here are some tips to add those foods in your families menu:

  • I serve this soup year-round and my kids love it! Try this coconut carrot curry soup;

  • keep some frozen mango, pineapple, and cantaloupe for an easy tropical smoothie. Research confirms that frozen is just as nutritious as fresh;

  • one medium baked sweet potato provides all the vitamin A you need daily. Not a fan? Try adding it mashed into your pancake batter.

Green foods help you fight off sickness

Green foods are rich in minerals, namely magnesium, potassium, and iron, greens also provide B vitamins, folate in particular, as well as vitamins K, C, and E. These are essential for healthy bone and teeth, tissue healing and aid in digestion (full of probiotics),

They can be found in spinach, broccoli, kale, lettuce, peas, cucumber, apples, and kiwi.

Here are so tips I use to include more green foods in our family’s diet:

Blue and purple foods give you a strong brain

Blue and purple foods are high in vitamins C and K. Purple foods boost memory, protect cells from damage, help digestion, and reduce inflammation. Bonus: these foods are full of flavonoids and have also been shown to play a role in reducing the risk of cancer.

They can be found in cabbage, plums, aubergine, grapes, and blueberries.

My tips for including this color in more of your foods:

  • freeze some purple grapes and have them as a snack;

  • purple cabbage can be used in the same way as green cabbage and makes an excellent addition to slaws, stews, and stir-fries;

  • make this homemade apple blueberry sauce to top your yogurt with. It’s sugar free and easy to do.

Looking for another easy way to incorporate more colors into your toddler or child’s diet? Try Moqqi veggie snacks made with spinach, tomatoes, beetroots and carrots. They are as colorful as the rainbow.

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