I absolutely LOVE my local Whole Foods Store (if you can call an hour’s drive one way local). When you walk in the door, you are met with a HUGE produce section that looks alive. It’s almost like a giant piece of artwork. So many different colors, different textures, and different smells are just waiting for me there. It’s like a party for my senses!
When I was in college, the produce section represented something completely different. I knew the basics: heads of lettuce, tomatoes, apples, oranges. But I grew up in a small town and I just did not see eggplants or acorn squashes among the bananas and the carrots. It all seemed so foreign to me and I decided that if it was in a can or a box and could be ready in 5 minutes or less, that was good enough for me (I was basically pretty lazy about cooking for myself). I thought I was healthy because I was thin and I took that for granted for a long time. But I have done a complete 180 and I look at food quite differently now. Motherhood will do that to you.
As a mom moving toward that green lifestyle, fruits and vegetables represent life itself. They are healthy, vibrant, and life sustaining. I can equate all of my favorites to what they actually do for the body. So, if you’re not up to speed on produce and what it can do for you and your kids, here is a handy guide:
Avocado: Are your kids at the age where they fall down and scrape their knees? Avocado is a great source of Vitamin E, which helps to heal those knees. Some people shy away from avocado because they have heard that avocado is fattening. Avocado contains “good” fat which whisks away cholesterol from the bloodstream. Avocado is also a great source of fiber.
Butternut Squash: This is one of my new favorites. The beta carotene promotes eye health and it’s also good for the skin. Butternut Squash is also a good source of potassium.
Spinach: Popeye knew what he was talking about! Spinach packs a powerful punch because of the amount of iron it contains, which delivers oxygen to the cells and gives kids’ muscles the energy they need to develop and grow strong. It also contains folic acid, which helps all of the body’s cells grow and function.
Cauliflower: Most people don’t realize that cauliflower contains Vitamin C, which helps kids to resist infections. It has also been found to help prevent certain types of cancers.
Broccoli: Like cauliflower, broccoli is a great source of Vitamin C and it’s also a great source of calcium, for strong bones and teeth.
Bananas: Besides the heart healthy potassium that bananas are typically known for, they are a great source of Vitamin B6, which is important for your little one’s brain function.
Pineapple: Besides all of the Vitamin C that helps with cuts, scrapes and warding off infection, pineapples are great at reducing inflammation and helping with digestion.
There are many other “kid friendly” fruits and vegetables out there to try. The key is to try a wide variety of them. Remember, beta carotene helps with eye health, Vitamin C helps with infection and healing, fiber helps with digestion, antioxidants are great for cell repair and growth, potassium is necessary for heart health, and anthocyanins (as found in cherries and strawberries) assist with brain health and warding off certain types of cancers.
There is the old saying that “you are what you eat”. Well, if you think your kids are a work of art, like I do, then why not feed them that way?
To your health and happiness,