Four ways to introduce healthy foods and their nutrients to keep our families healthy.

Many studies in the medical literature support consumption of vegetables and fruit as the mainstay of our diet (1). So when planning a meal, such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even snacks, we should concentrate on the vegetable or fruit part of the meal and add ingredients to enhance or compliment the taste.

The beauty of fruits and veggies – so many choices to suit almost any palate, especially when combined with favorite herbs, spices, and natural flavoring.

This way of eating should be a long-term goal for most, if not all of us, so take a deep breath, and enjoy the journey. As parents, we strive to get it right, and our children need support and encouragement to keep trying. When making meals, be creative, and focus on taste rather than trying to convince the little critters it is good for them and, therefore, they should consume the food in front of them. 

It is vital to ensure a wide variety of BENEFICIAL vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (the treasured part of the plant) present in our foods. Some of the different ways we can consider adding a variety of fruits and vegetables to our families’ diet are as follows:

  • Eating the rainbow: choose from red (apples, beets, red peppers, tomatoes, radish, radicchio, raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, watermelon), orange (papaya, oranges, apricots, pumpkin, orange peppers, peaches, tangerines), yellow (corn, bananas, lemons, squash, golden beets, yellow peppers), green (broccoli, kale, spinach, collard greens, apples, cucumber, olives), blue/purple (blueberries, eggplant, blackberries, plum, kohlrabi, cabbage), and white (mushrooms, cauliflower, artichoke, potato, onion, garlic)..
  • Seasons: Spring (apples, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, onions, strawberries, kale, mushrooms), Summer (avocadoes, bananas, beets, blueberries, corn, watermelon, raspberries, blackberries), Fall (Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, rutabaga, pumpkin, turnips), Winter (Grapefruit, kiwi, leeks, pears, winter squash) (3) OR what’s on sale
  • Looking at the different families of VEGGIESAllium (onions, garlic, leeks, chives), Brassica (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, collards, radish), Gourd (cucumber, squash, pumpkin, zucchini), Legumes (peas and beans), Nightshade (tomato, eggplant, peppers, potatoes), Umbel (carrot, celery), Beet (beet, spinach), and Daisy  (lettuce, artichoke, chicory). (2)  FRUITPomes (apples, pears, loquats), Drupes (peach, plum, mango, apricot), Berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, elderberry, goji berry, acai berry), Hisperidia (oranges, grapefruit, lime, kumquats), Pepos (watermelon, cantaloupe) Multiple Fruits (pineapple, mulberry).
  • My wife’s suggestion, and possibly my favorite, is to try different Ethnic food meals. This approach presents many benefits, including foods you may never have heard of or tried. As a family, you can have a new and fun shopping experience at your local Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, or African supermarkets. Enjoying different tastes while possibly learning about other cultures or having a dress-up night. Look to healthier food recipes, as the need for convenience has created some unhealthier options.

The above is a guide, a partial list, hoping to get you interested in obtaining more diversity in your food choices. Choosing a variety of plant-based foods will further contribute to your health. Each color of the rainbow, each family of veggies, and each season of eating can bring your body a variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. This approach can benefit your health today and into the future. And if this is important to you, which it most certainly should be, then go for it. Enjoy the results.

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