Colorful Fruits and Veggies Makes Meals More Appealing
January 27, 2016
Every mom I know is concerned about the health and well-being of her children, but that’s often easier said than done. Labels can be confusing. Headlines can be misleading. And honestly, some days I just feel overwhelmed. That’s why I decided to consult an expert! I asked a registered dietitian to help me understand what “healthy eating” really means.
“The crucial part of healthy eating is having a balanced diet,” says Anne Hytrek, MSEd, RD, LD, CDE, who works at Ankeny Prairie Trails Hy-Vee. “One food group doesn’t give all that your body needs for proper brain and muscle function. That’s why it’s so important to eat foods – in proper portion sizes – from all food groups.”
After talking more with this dietitian, I learned that I didn’t know as much about portions as I thought! Did you know that two little cuties, or mandarin oranges, are equal to one serving? One small apple is a serving, so a large apple might actually count as two servings. One serving of green beans is equal to one cup, and one serving of fresh spinach is two cups.
You might be able to add two servings of fruit to your diet simply by enjoying a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack, which in turn, will help you stave off hunger until meal time. Another tip for getting the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily is to have at least one different colored vegetable and one different colored fruit at a meal. This is a win-win because your plate will be more visually appealing, and you’re more apt to eat a colorful meal.
Don’t be overly concerned with whether the fruits and veggies you’re purchasing are fresh, frozen or canned. Be more concerned about whether salt or sugar have been added to them. “Hidden sugars” can negate the nutritional value of certain foods. For example, a fruit smoothie may not be the healthiest choice. Most smoothies contain real fruit, which contains natural sugars, plus juice and added sugar. If this is the case, a recommended serving size for a fruit smoothie is actually be an 8-ounce cup or smaller!
Some smoothie recipes call for Greek yogurt or unsweetened almond milk, which can provide nutritional benefits without all the added sugar. One of my favorite recipes is the Tropical Pineapple-Mango-Orange Smoothie from Iowa Girl Eats. It was a hit when I made it for a Girl Scout meeting!
Kids enjoy eating the foods they help make. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is “to get creative in the kitchen.” I’m making a special effort to seek out recipes we can make together as a family. Here are a few that I’ve tagged to try: Bacon-Cheddar Omelets, Banana Pancakes and Oven-Baked Carrot Fries.
How do you encourage kids to try new (and healthy) foods?