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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eat a Rainbow!

Trying to figure out what to feed the kids can be a daunting task (see Lunch should be a four letter word), especially if we want to serve healthy meals. If we don't work at it, our kids could go days (weeks? months? a lifetime?) without ever eating a vegetable.

Lately, my family has been trying its best to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day. Canada's Food Guide recommends eating 4-10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (see suggested daily servings by age). A serving is defined as one piece of medium-sized fruit or half a cup of fresh, frozen or canned fruit or vegetables (see examples of serving sizes). It is further recommended that we eat at least one serving of leafy greens and one serving of an orange fruit or vegetable every day in order to meet daily folate and vitamin A requirements (see Tips for Fruit and Vegetables).

Some of the ways we try to eat a rainbow every day:

We like fruit for breakfast and snacks. The only rule is that it has to be something we haven't already eaten that day. It's fun for Jack to remember what he's already had and to remember what we have in the fridge or pantry that he hasn't had yet.
example: strawberries or banana cut up into cereal for breakfast, grapes with a muffin for the morning snack, apple slices with crackers and almond butter for the afternoon snack
I try to include vegetables with the lunch and supper meals. Jack can choose between a salad and cut up vegetables. The same rule applies as for fruit. He needs to choose vegetables he hasn't had yet that day. He is also encouraged to pick at least two vegetables per meal that are different in colour.
example: carrots and celery sticks for lunch, red pepper and cucumber chunks for supper

We try to eat foods from the five basic colour groups every day, and vary them day by day. What Color is Your Food? is a gorgeous article that outlines the properties of each of the five colour groupings. Kids can try creating sample menus by adding fruits and vegetables to meals. Here you'll also find tips on how to increase the number of fruits and vegetables you eat. Some of their suggestions that we like the best are:
  • Keep cleaned fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator — ready to eat.
  • Have vegetables with low-fat dip for a snack.
  • Drink 100% fruit juice instead of fruit-flavored drinks or soda pop.
  • Keep a bowl of apples, bananas and/or oranges on the table.
  • Choose a side salad made with a variety of leafy greens.
  • Add lettuce, onions, peppers and/or tomatoes to sandwiches.
  • Enjoy fruit smoothies for breakfast or snacks. 
  • Pack fresh or dried fruits for quick snacks.
The Mix It Up! web site also has some great tools and information about fruits and vegetables. You can download a colour chart, place it on your fridge and track how well you did each week eating the colours of the rainbow. For information about what to look for when buying, nutrition information and storage and preparation tips, see Fruits from A to Z and Veggies from A to Z. There are also some tasty looking recipes on the site.


If you're still having trouble convincing your kids to eat their fruits and veggies, check out this product: Today I Ate A Rainbow!™. Kids get a colourful chart, magnets, a bookmark, shopping list and story book, all designed to help them eat fruits and vegetables from each colour of the rainbow. There's also a great Kid's Zone on their website where kids can get colouring pages and play games.


  1. Hi Cookie, loved this blog, just read it now. Appropriate after my rant about Jamie Oliver's show. Will visit some of the links when I have a moment..

  2. Just read your Jamie Oliver post, and I agree - scare tactics, yes, but if that's what it takes...!

  3. Awesome tips! I'm trying really hard to keep my babies healthy. Found you through Create with Joy. http://clutteredgenius.blogspot.com/2011/08/happy-12-valentines-day.html

  4. Thanks for sharing these awesome tips, its never easy getting the right amount.

  5. This is a great visual tool for people to use when trying to eat healthy! My sister's a hospital nutritionist; I will pass this one along to her, too.

    ~Tui, from Chasing Joy's Flashback Friday linky :)

  6. Hi there - I found you via #FBF and was touched by your comment on Chasing Joy's site about your son's recent diagnosis. I recently wrote an article on Gluten Free 101 and would love to send you all the resources I found (including a GREAT recipe website run by one of my friends - http://www.unrefinedkitchen.com/); just let me know if you would be interested! My email is jennah@onlytruenorth.com.

    I also loved your thoughts on eating the rainbow - something we would ALL do well to live by! :)