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Eating a rainbow of vegetables

Henry started off with green vegetables, because that’s what we happened to have on hand. He has now branched out to orange and red vegetables with sweet potatoes, carrots, bell pepper and tomato.
Henry examines a slice of green zucchini
Each color of vegetable provides unique nutritional benefits. But Henry doesn’t really care that green vegetables can reduce his risk for cancer, purple vegetables can boost his immune system, red vegetables can lower his blood pressure, white vegetables promote a healthy heart, or that orange and yellow vegetables support healthy bones and joints.

What Henry does enjoy is exploring the different colors and flavors of the rainbow. Infants as young as four months can differentiate between colors. Children prefer bright colors like red, orange and yellow more than dull colors like brown and gray. Plus, reds are known for making people hungrier which is one reason why grocery store and restaurant logos tend to have lots of red.
Henry tests out a slice of red bell pepper
Helping your kids to eat more veggies may be as simple as livening up your meals with a rainbow of color. We all know that a colorful meal is more appetizing than one filled with monochromatic foods. A recent study found that children eat more diverse diets when their plates are filled with more colorful fare. The research illustrated how color variety is especially important for kids, who favored meals with six different colors, compared with adults who preferred just three colors of food on their plate.

You can also use veggies as a tool for teaching your kids about colors. Henry is a little young for this, but here is a rainbow activity to get kids excited to test out an assortment of colorful produce.

Food Rainbow Activity
1. Have your child draw a picture of a rainbow using crayons or markers while you prepare a colorful meal using lots of different veggies and fruits.  Include a mix of familiar and new produce.
2. During the meal, help your child identify the colors of food on their plate.
3. Encourage your child to try a bite of each food color.
4. As they try each color of food, have your child place an X or a sticker on each part of the rainbow that matches the food color.
5. Display your child's rainbow drawing on the refrigerator.

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