Add Colorful Autumn Fruits and Vegetables to Family Meals

When Autumn arrives, most people think of the beautiful colors of the trees that fill the hillsides and incorporate these colors into their décor.

When Autumn arrives, most people think of the beautiful colors of the trees that fill the hillsides and incorporate these colors into their décor. The reds, yellows, oranges, and other Autumn colors are used in both indoor and outdoor displays. Why not brighten your table by adding these beautiful colors to your meal plate?

vegetables

Colorful foods can make your meal more enticing and children often respond to color. To get into the Fall spirit, show children the various fruits and vegetables available at a neighborhood farmer’s market or grocer. Let each child “design” their meal plate by picking out 3 fruits and vegetables.

For meal preparation ideas, let’s start with breakfast. A colorful breakfast can be tricky as many foods lack color – eggs, pancakes, waffles, cereals, and toast are all neutral colored. Even the proteins we traditionally add such as bacon, sausage, and ham are not particularly colorful. The easiest way to add color is through fruits. Colorful, seasonal fruits include blood oranges, Barbados cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, grapefruit, lemons, cantaloupe, blackberries, and raspberries. These can be added as a side dish, incorporated as a breakfast juice or smoothie, or added to yogurt.

Lunch and dinner are good times to incorporate colorful seasonal vegetables in your meal plan. The dark greens are in season this time of year and include broccoli, spinach and kale. Orange vegetables in season include carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Yellow corn and squash can brighten a plate as well as the more dramatic purple eggplant.

berries

There are numerous sources for recipes involving all these seasonal foods with cookbooks, recipes on Pinterest, and website dedicated to healthy meals. Remember, for most foods, they should be minimally processed to get the most nutrients. Berry cobblers are delicious, but a simple serving of washed berries in a healthy yogurt can give the appearance of a treat while keeping the nutritious value high with a reduced caloric intake. For example, 1 cup of blackberry cobbler may contain 488 calories, providing 12% Daily value of Vitamin A, 29% of Vitamin C, and 27% of Calcium. A half cup of blackberries in a ½ cup of plain fat free yogurt may contain 176 calories, providing 9% Daily value of Vitamin A, 37% of Vitamin C, and 48% of Calcium.

Kids may have strong ideas about foods and be hesitant to try new things. Don’t be discouraged – to try new recipes. Children should learn about new foods, textures, and combinations so they can find foods they enjoy while getting the nutrition they need.

To learn more, a Nutrition Basics course is available with enrollment in the Advanced Childcare program.

Summer Food Fun for Kids

Summer is a wonderful time to be creative with food for kids of all ages and to get them to try new things.

fruit on bagel halves

Summer is here and we all have our favorite summer foods – meat on the grill, fresh corn on the cob, berries and other fresh fruits. Summer is also a wonderful time to be creative with food for kids of all ages and to get them to try new things. From trips to the farmer’s market to harvesting a backyard garden, there are a ton of ways to introduce children to the variety of nutritious foods available in the summer. The next time you are in the fruit and vegetable section, let the children pick out a new food to try. Here are some other age appropriate activities to help children learn about food and nutrition.

Toddlers like to play with food and it teaches them fine motor skills. So, it’s fun to transform eating healthy a craft project. Cut various fruits and vegetables into different shapes and let the children create art on their plate. You can use various things for the base – try bagels which can bet cut and laid out to form a “snake” and decorated with cream cheese, peanut butter, fruit, seeds, and nuts. Then, take a picture to show off their work! While creating and after it’s complete – let the kids dive in a try the various parts of their art project!

Preschool children can create their own shapes, letters, and numbers from various fruits and vegetables. Grab the cookie cutters (the metal kind are best) and make stars from pineapple slices and hearts from watermelon. Use wooden skewers and create ‘stick people’ or kabobs from apple slices, carrot sticks, and cherry tomatoes. When grilling, let the kids pick the vegetables that will be grilled with the meat so they each have their own personalized veggie side. Kids are more likely to eat vegetables they picked out.

Older children usually love smoothies. Have a selection of fruits and vegetables available. Encourage the children to try new combinations and analyze the ingredients with respect to nutrients to develop healthier smoothies that they love to drink. Carrot juice may sound funny to kids but when mixed with bananas and strawberries, it can add some healthy nutrients to the natural sugars in the fruit. Not all smoothies have to be sweet and full of fruit. Encourage the use of vegetables such spinach and kale to increase the nutritional value and expose the children to different tastes.

4th of july themes popsicles

Everyone loves dessert and summer is the best time for frozen goodies! Home-made ice cream is always a huge hit and each person can add their own toppings. You can also make your own yogurt pops with berries or nuts. Fresh lemonade can be frozen as well as low sugar grape juice. Let them freeze and enjoy a special cold treat on a hot summer day.

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