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Dietitians Dish: Reach for rainbow of food everyday

Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld

By Elizabeth SommerfeldDid you know that only one in five children eats the recommended five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day? Also, nearly 1/4 of all vegetables eaten by children and adolescents are french fries.

Do you ever hear yourself telling your children, "Eat your fruits and vegetables, they're good for you?" Now, how many of you follow your own advice? Children are more likely to eat these recommended foods if they see their parents enjoying these foods daily and if there is a plentiful source in the house.

The American Dietetic Association has some simple tips to fit five fruits and vegetables into any family's daily routine.

It's in the pasta sauce

Just 1/2 cup of pasta sauce is a serving of vegetables. Add some finely chopped carrots or spinach for extra color and benefit.

Get started on right fruit

Add fruits like bananas and berries to cereals or pancakes: 1/2 raw, cooked, frozen, or canned (in 100 percent juice) is one serving of fruits.

Serve 100 percent fruit juice with breakfast: 3/4 cup (6 oz.) is one serving of fruits.

Veggie up your meals

Add beans, peas, or corn to casseroles, pastas, soups and stews: 1/2 cup cooked, canned, or frozen vegetables or legumes (beans and peas) is one serving of vegetables.

Pull up an apron

Have your kids help you prepare foods with fruits and vegetables.

Make a veggie-packed "pizza face" using pita bread for the face, spread with pizza or pasta sauce, decorate with carrot shreds, sweet peppers, tomatoes, black olive slices, spinach and cheese: 1 cup raw, leafy vegetables is considered one serving of vegetables.

Snack smart

Cut apples or bananas and serve with peanut butter or yogurt.

Vegetables can be served with salsa or low-fat dip.

Pack dried fruit if you are on the road: 1/4 cup dried fruit is one serving of fruits.

Serve "ants on a log" using celery as the log, fill with peanut butter or cream cheese, top with raisins as the ants.

Strive for at least five a day, and try to eat from the rainbow of colors provided by fruits and vegetables.

Eating the recommended amount can help maintain a healthy heart, memory, vision, strong bones and teeth, healthy weight levels and a lower risk of some cancers.

So, not only is eating five a day good for kids, but for adults also. Remember, it's never too late to start.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld is a registered and licensed dietitian and has a master of science degree. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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