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:
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 snackI 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:
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.
- 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.
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.