It always bothers me to hear the advice “Eat the colors of the rainbow.” As the thinking goes, the more colorful the produce, the more nutrients it contains.
But the fact is many white or off-white plant foods can be just as nourishing as those colorful red, blue and yellow foods. Which foods are they and how can they be made kid-friendly?
While the peel is banana yellow, the edible portion is a creamy white. Bananas are a perennial kid favorite and can be baby’s first food when mashed with a fork. Everyone knows they’re loaded with the mineral potassium, but did you know they’re packed with fiber? Bananas are perfect for a backpack, need no refrigeration and help to soothe hunger pangs when a meal isn’t forthcoming. Whirl into a smoothie, slice on top of cereal or nut butter or even freeze for a cool treat.
This classic cold weather vegetable is loaded with vitamins C and K and glucosinolates.
“Cauliflower is one of my go-to vegetables. It’s a great vegetable that you can prepare and serve in different ways as your kids grow, according to Kathryn Maher, a culinary and public health dietitian in Indianapolis, Indiana. “Pureed cauliflower can be a great beginner food. Cooked, whole florets are easy to grab and munch on when your little one is ready.”
For older kids, cauliflower is fantastic when cut into flowerets, tossed with a little fresh chopped rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven.
Rich in both iron and vitamin K, this root vegetable is a good source of dietary fiber which is lacking in many kids’ diets. Traditionally mashed, it can also be eaten raw with a dip.
“If you haven’t tried jicama yet, I challenge you to pick one up on your next trip to the grocery. You will not be disappointed. Jicama has a similar texture to apples, but a milder flavor,” Maher says. “You can bake it, eat it raw or make it sweet or savory. Let your kids help experiment with adding flavor.”
Pungent and sharp when it’s raw, onion becomes sweet and delicious when cooked until it’s soft and translucent. Like the drummer in a band, always in the background yet missed when it’s absent, onion adds depth of flavor to nearly every savory dish there is. Onions contain the antioxidant quercetin.
Try this the next time you grill hamburgers: Slice a few onions thinly, put into a covered frying pan with a little oil and cook slowly over low heat. After about a half hour, the onions will have caramelized. You can top not only your burgers, but you can add them to sandwiches and salads as well.
Most kids won’t eat cooked parsnips, but they will eat them if they’re sneaked into stew or soup or included into a medley of oven-roasted root vegetables. A cup of parsnips takes care of almost a third of your vitamin C needs and is an excellent source of the mineral manganese and dietary fiber.
These sturdy, budget-friendly tubers tend to be a kids’ fave when ordered as a “fry” at a quick service restaurant. When cooked up at home in the form of oven fries, baked, sliced into wedges and roasted or even mashed with a little milk and butter, potatoes are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Surprisingly, they’re a better source of potassium than a banana.
During this month of winter wonderland of snow, incorporate one or more “winter white” foods for good taste and good health.