At a passionate nutritionist in Maroubra, I love when the government promotes eating vegetables. However, in spite of all the campaigns in the media to ensure all of us are eating at least five serves of vegetables a day, statistically, we are not doing too well in this area. Remember eating only fruit isn’t the same. There are certain nutrients which are far more abundant in vegetables than fruit and or course less sugar. So have you ever wondered why we need to eat a rainbow of vegetables?
Red vegetables are coloured by a natural plant pigment called lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of cancer and keep our heart healthy and strengthen the immune system.
Think – slices of red peppers, baby tomatoes, sliced beetroot or beetroot dip.
Purple/blue vegetables get their distinctive colour from the plant pigment anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that protect cells from damage and can help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease.
Think – sliced red cabbage (which is really purple but could also fit in the red group ), and thinly slices of eggplant baked or grilled
Carotenoids give this group their vibrant colour. One of the well-known carotenoid is called beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A, which helps maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes. Another carotenoid called lutein is stored in the eye and has been found to prevent cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness.
Think roasted sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots (raw, roasted, lightly steams).
Green vegetables contain a range of phytochemical including carotenoids, indoles and saponins, all of which have anti-cancer properties.
Think – Leafy greens like baby spinach in salads or sandwiches or sneak into savoury muffins and add lightly steams bite-sized broccoli to your vegetable box or blitzed and hidden in a coleslaw
White vegetables contain a range of health-promoting phytochemical such as allicin (found in garlic) which is known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Think – a few cold roasted potatoes, lightly steams cauliflower and saute a few mushrooms.
The busy lives we lead often leave us pressed for time, so it comes as no surprise that being organised and planning ahead is key for healthy eating. I have included an example of a weekly menu planner. It works a treat in our house.
So get the pen and paper or your phone out and write down per meal per day what vegetables you are going to add to your child’s diet – lunch and dinner.
Here are some ideas for lunches:
- Zucchini spiralled mixed with fresh homemade pesto (minus the pine nuts for nut-free schools)
- Salad made with poached chicken and bite-sized leftover roasted or steamed vegetables.
- Use a savoury muffin as your base and include different vegetables.
- Add grated carrot or freshly made coleslaw to your sandwich
- Vegetable sticks and a dip (eg hummus)
Kids (and adults) eat with their eyes, so it’s important to make their food appetising – look appealing, easy to eat, variety and cool food. It’s also a great idea if possible get the children to help prepare their lunchbox and ask your child to express their preference.
For some more inspiration check or a health check why not book in for a consult with me