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?
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.
There are numerous sources for recipes involving all these seasonal foods with cookbooks, recipes on Pinterest, and a 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.
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