Kids Eat Right with Colorful Gardens
Photo by Melody

Kids Eat Right with Colorful Gardens

By Diana Wind (wind)March 15, 2011
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The American Dietetic Association brings us National Nutrition Month (NNM) every year as a reminder to eat right from all the food groups for good nutrition and health. This year's NNM theme is "Eat Right with Color." As research has shown, an effective way to get children to eat right with more colorful fruits and vegetables is to encourage their involvement in gardening. Kids like to eat what they grow! This article features colorful plants selected by children as some of their garden favorites to grow and eat. Enjoy the crossword puzzle at the end of the article too!

Gardening picture

The American Dietetic Association's National Nutrition Month theme, Eat Right with Color, suggests eating from a variety of colorful foods. Food group colors highlighted in the Food Guide Pyramid include: green for vegetables, red for fruits, yellow for a small amount of fats and oils, blue for calcium-rich milk, and purple for proteins from meats and beans.

Colorful foods can be purchased fresh, dried, canned or frozen. The real reason eating right from color is so important is because different color foods contain different nutrients. By eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, you will get more vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytonutrients that your body needs for good health.

              Eat colorful fruits and vegetables!

Best Plants for Gardening Kids ~ part 2 

Image

#1 Turnip
Brassica rapa 'Purple Top'White Globe

 'Purple Top' White Globe heirloom turnips were first introduced in 1870. Hardy crops of two-toned purple and white heirloom turnips are not exactly what you would imagine a child liking, but little Michalah will convince you otherwise. She enjoys turnips from her grandparents' garden and helps her grandmom pick and rinse each and every one off with the hose, before taking them into the kitchen to be cooked.

Not only are turnips full of nutrients, so are turnip tops/greens. Turnip greens provide an excellent source of dietary fiber; vitamins A, C, K; and calcium. Turnip greens also provide a good source of protein, vitamin E, folate, iron and magnesium. Popular heirloom varieties grown especially for their healthy greens, include Brassica rapa 'Seven Top' and Brassica rapa 'Shogoin'.

#2 Snap Peas, Pisum sativum

A friend's family lives with their gardening kids in a place many of us have only dreamed of visiting - Hawaii. Their home is situated in a tropical paradise, surrounded by lush greenery and tropical garden beauty. Of their 3 children, their son Gardening Kids eat more veggies!Connor has taken gardening to heart. "He'd rather go 'plant seeds than play a video game or watch a movie," says his mother.

Their Hawaiian home garden boasts tomato plants, whopper eggplants, banana peppers, habaneros, serannos, bell peppers, sweet potato, strawberries, pineapple, onion and herbs, not to mention colorful wildflowers. Four-year old Connor says, "crackin seeds" (snap peas) are his favorite because, "they climb on stuff." He likes to pop them open when it's time to eat them.

Heirloom snap pea varieties include: Sugar Sprint, Sugar Snap, Sugar Daddy, Amish Snap, Golden Sweet, Dwarf Gray Sugar and Cascadia.

#3 Strawberries Fragaria x ananassa

Connor and his brother and sister "are berry freaks," according to their mom. She tells me, "They'll eat pints of berries at a time, just fresh and in a giant bowl for sharing. I'll put a bowl of mixed berries on the table while they're watching cartoons and they go to town!" Strawberries are a popular favorite for many folks, including the children enrolled at the teaching garden at HealthBarn USA® in north Jersey, according to its founder Stacey Antine, MS, RD. 

Stevia growing in the teaching garden at HealthBarn USAWhether you direct sow them or cascade the berry plants out of a strawberry pot, even the smallest toddler will be able to pick these vitamin C rich fruits with their own hands. There are many varieties of strawberries to choose from, including: Seascape, Tribute, and Albion - large and bright red, with berry flavor so good, both kids and adults find them addicting.

#4 Sweet Stevia, Stevia rebaudiana

No need for candy when sweet stevia is planted in the garden. Stevia is actually sweeter than cane sugar. This green plant is fun to pick leaves from for a sweet treat while working in the garden. Kids love chomping on stevia leaves as they play and plant in the garden. Stevia can also be grown in pots and overwintered indoors, as this tender perennial is hardy to USDA zones 8a-11.

#5 Swiss Chard 

Kids gave me the thumbs up for Australian heirloom Swiss chard 'Rainbow' and hybrid 'Bright Lights'. The magnificant colors show vibrant shades of yellow, orange, crimson and white. Packed with nutrition, Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Magnesium and Potassium. Chard also provides a good source of dietary Fiber, calcium, Vitamin E and antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. Enjoy eating right with color!

Click here to read 'Best Plants for Gardening Kid's ~ part 1', featuring: Jelly Bean Tomatoes, Silly Dilly, Tickle Me Plant, Flying Saucer Summer Squash, and Red Strawberry Popcorn.  

                                                                                                               

Print out and Enjoy this Crossword Puzzle

for Eat Right with Color fun!

Across

2) A close relative of beets with crinkled leaves and edible prominent central ribs that can be bright colors of yellow, orange, crimson, or white (Hint: one variety is called Bright Lights)
5) Annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds that are yellow, orange, red, brown or black
8) A crop that can produce at least twice as much protein per acre as any other major vegetable or grain
9) A Vitamin that comes from sun exposure
11)
Rice, maize and this grain, provides 60 percent of the world's food energy intake.
14) Unrefined carbohydrate high in fiber (Hint: contains endosperm, bran and germ)
17) Too much of this mineral is bad for your blood pressure
18) Refreshing summer fruit that contains the highest levels of lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable (15 to 20 mg per 2-cup serving)
19) An ancient, nutritious grain that originally came from the Andes and was holy to the Incas of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico
20)
Something Americans need to do more of for a healthy heart

Down 

1) This grain feeds almost half of humanity
3)
The mineral in milk that helps build strong bones and prevent osteoporosis
4)
These come in white, black, red, orange and green; they are high in protein, and are projected to be a food trend in 2011 (Hint: sometimes they need to be soaked overnight)
6) Hot or mild vegetable in green, red, orange, purple or yellow that is high in Vitamin C  (Hint: they like hot temperatures and grow slower than tomatoes)
7) Fast food is generally higher in __ __ __ 
10)
An _____ a day, keeps the doctor away
12)
A Vegetable that is really technically a Fruit
13)
A variety of celery and the name of my favorite feral Garden Cat (Hint: I wrote a story about him for Dave's Garden)
15) An orange root vegetable high in Vitamin A
16) Green or red vegetable most often used to make a garden salad

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National Nutrition Month® and Eat Right with Color are trademarks of the American Dietetic Association. Logo used with permission.

Photographs: Thumbnail photo courtesy of ARS United States Department of Agriculture - Photo by Stephen Ausmus. Eat Right with Color logo copyright ©2010 American Dietetic Association, used with permission. Michalah watering Grandmoms turnips used with permission, copyright ©L.Juelg. Photo collage of Connor in the Garden used with permission, copyright ©KristinG. All other photos Copyright ©2010 Wind. All rights reserved.

Related DG Articles:

Stevia, Sweet Stevia By Marie Harrison

Teach a Child To Garden...They will Grow for Life By Paul Rodman

Related Links: 

Eat a colorful variety of FRUITS and VEGETABLES every day!

Antioxidants 101

Kids Eat Right

Kids World Plant Nutrition

Why Youth Gardens?

School Gardens as a Strategy for Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption


  About Diana Wind  
Diana WindDiana is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion for gardening and sustainable foods. She is a graduate of the Academy of Culinary Arts and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Food from the garden fuels her enthusiasm for eating right and nutritional science. She especially loves gardening as part of a healthy lifestyle. Gardening engages us with nature, gives us health benefits from exercise, and rewards us with fresh, nutritious foods. To assess your food and garden activity level, visit choosemyplate.gov or her blog. You can also follow Diana on Google.

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Discussion about this article:
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childred eating vegetables diedrika 1 3 Mar 27, 2011 8:24 AM
A Food Pyramid for Adults gloria125 1 12 Mar 16, 2011 4:18 PM
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