The DeLish Bite

Lindsay Evans blogs about food, entertaining and her favourite recipes for Green Living.

What we feed our children has the ability to determine their health in the future. A good base of knowledge and a well-stocked pantry are the keys to successfully ensuring you feed your children the optimum foods for health. Super Foods are foods that have roles in addition to just being simple components of our diet (like a protein, carbohydrate or fat). They have many roles, including prevention of illness, boosting energy, increasing brainpower, and repairing tissue damage. Super foods have these abilities due to their high levels of phytonutrients and antioxidants, which are powerful chemicals that have essential functions including healing and disease prevention. Fruits and vegetables in particular are excellent super foods, which are chock full of phytonutrients and antioxidants. It is imperative that you introduce your children to these foods (at the right time and using the proper methods as stipulated by your doctor or pediatrician) to get them on the track to healthy eating patterns for life. Green Foods: Green fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants including Vitamin A, C, and E. These have the ability to protect of tissues and cells and repair damage. Green leafy vegetables are also good sources of calcium and iron. These foods include broccoli, asparagus, avocado, lettuce, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, peas, spinach, kale and watercress. Kid tip: Try serving your greens with cubes of cheddar cheese – your kids will not only love the taste but they will get an added calcium bonus too! Red Foods: Red fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of Lycopene, which is one of the most potent cancer-fighting carotenoids available. As our body does not produce lycopenes, we must obtain them from our diet. Red foods include strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, cherries, grapes, pink grapefruit, tomatoes and red bell peppers. Kid tip: Try adding some fresh raspberries or sliced strawberries to your child’s bowl of vanilla ice cream! Orange and Yellow Foods: Antioxidants abound in the orange and yellow vegetables. The heroes of this group are the carotenoids that give these vegetables their bright colour. A wide range of other phytochemicals such as Vitamin C and flavonoids are also found in this group. The yellow/orange group is also a good source of fiber, folate, potassium and calcium. Orange and yellow foods include carrots, lemons, pumpkin, sweet potato, squash, rutabaga, corn, apricots, cantaloupe, mangoes, oranges, passion fruit and peaches. Kid tip: Sweet potato is gaining in popularity as one of the best first foods for babies as they are very appetizing and delicious simply mashed. Dark Blue or Purple Foods: Blue and purple fruits and veggies are rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are the most abundant and powerful of all the phytochemicals contained in the foods we eat. There are many categories of flavonoids. One group of flavonoids helps reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease and helps prevent the first stages of cancer development, another is beneficial in reversing short-term memory loss, while still another aids in the improvement of our motor skills. Dark blue or purple foods include blueberries, beets, blackberries, raisins, purple cabbage, purple potatoes, black currents, eggplant, plums and prunes. Kid Tip: Toss some blueberries into your kids morning cereal or yogurt. White Foods: Whilst not vibrant in colour, don't underestimate the nutritional contribution of the white and brown vegetables. They contain varying amounts of a range of phytochemicals, including phenolic compounds. The sulphur compounds found in garlic and onions are also wonderful for our health. White vegetables are a rich source of the potent antioxidant Vitamin C. White foods include potatoes, turnips, onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, cauliflower and apples. Kid tip: Try making homemade and healthy Yukon gold potato frites – I promise, your child will love these (although they might not like the lemon mayonnaise yet, they will love them with some good ole ketchup!). Food styling by Lindsay Evans (www.delish.ca) and photography by Jodi Pudge (www.jodipudge.com)