Eat a rainbow with your kids
Eating a rainbow sounds as magical as riding a unicorn, finding Atlantis or singing with a mermaid, all of which I’d adore.
However, there is one big difference – you can eat a rainbow - a satisfying, fun experience for both you and your children.
It's now well known that there are many health issues linked to poor diet, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, osteoporosis and more. At the present time, in Great Britain, more money is spent in the NHS on diseases caused by poor diet than by smoking.
Many of our attitudes towards health are set in childhood. Obesity is a rising epidemic in the West.
We can encourage the next generation to look after their bodies by heating healthily and taking exercise -at the same time helping ourselves.
The Five a Day message has become part of everyday language. We are all aware of the vitamins and minerals we get from fruit and veg, and that all important fibre. But just as essential and possibly more are the phyto nutrients, the chemicals that give plants their colour. Each one has its own health giving property.
So how can we help our little ones develop a love of healthy food?
Children love cooking and eating their very own creations, we can tap into that and foster an interest and wonder at the variety of colours and textures everyday fruits and vegetables have.
Cooking up a rainbow an exciting learning experience. Most children will know from a very early age how a rainbow is formed from sunlight being split into the colours of the rainbow as it shines through raindrops. Older ones will have learnt that each of the coloured lights in the spectrum has a different wavelength. We can explain how plants get their energy to grow from the sun and use the different colours to make a variety of chemicals. Fruit and vegetables store them in their skins and flesh, and this gives them their distinctive colours.
In my book TG and the Rainbow Warriors I have used the term Phyto Power to describe the healing power we get from the colours in fruit and vegetables. There is also a little ditty I wrote that the Rainbow Warriors sing to TG:
Phyto Power ©
Phyto power, Phyto power
Put some on your plate
Phyto power, Phyto power
Makes you feel just great!
In my experience children really enjoy chanting the ditty as they chop up their fruit and veg.
Have you ever noticed how kids love to play with long words, the weirder the better?
Most six and seven year olds take great pride in learning as many dinosaur names as they can. As much as this is fun, it is also an important step in language development, building vocabulary plus fostering a love of reading.
We can utilise this knowledge and have fun with our children playing with the chemical names of phyto nutrients – believe me they love it!
Lycopene - the red in tomatoes
Carotenoids– the orange in carrots
Bio-flavonoids – the yellow in grapefruit
Apigein– green in avocados
Anthocyanins– purple in blackberries
As I mentioned before, all fruits and vegetable have a number of these phytochemicals, each with their own special mix.
At the end of TG and the Rainbow Warriors, TG designs his own delicious Rainbow Pizza.
Another little fun activity is to challenge each other to eat a rainbow every day - we try to do just that in our house.
I hope I have inspired you to indulge in a magical experience with your children - Cooking Up A Rainbow.