Wednesday, October 29, 2014

#52New Foods... Sweet and Sour Glazed & Pickled Rainbow Carrots

Your kids eat a few bites of broccoli every day or nibble on a couple of carrot sticks... isn't that getting them to eat their vegetables? No, it's simply not enough. Colour is important, but not just one colour... it's eating all the colours in a variety of fruits and vegetables! Brightly coloured food contain plant chemicals called phytochemicals with many containing powerful antioxidants that protect us from everyday damaging free radicals. In The 52 New Foods Challenge book, Lee speaks to leading health experts about the role colour plays in our health, especially the health of our children. The key to nutrition is variety- not too much of one colour or lacking in others but diversity on our plates! What I learned immensely is, to make healthy food appealing, we should use the word "colour" to our marketing advantage. Colour is a treasured part of a child's vocabulary. It brings feelings of fun, playful adventures at preschool. Ask them to eat purple, and they get it... ask them to eat the vegetable and they turn up their noses. We need to speak their language!

Here are some awesome tips from Lee's book to make it easy to eat your colours:

Be A Good Facilitator. Your role as a parent is to make the colours available and encourage everyone to keep trying. Challenge them in a game on how many colours they can eat at dinner. And model good behaviour by loading up your plate full of colours and trying something new!

Stock Up: Take your kids shopping and have them fill the carts with colours. Aim for at least one of the five colour groups: green, red, yellow/orange, blue/purple and white/brown. Give new colours a try with old favourites- purple beans instead of green, orange peppers instead of red. The deeper the colours the better it is for you- deep green in kale over light green butter lettuce. Having a range of colours in your fridge allows you to easily combine a few in one night.

Plan Your Meals: Plan your menu in advance to feature two or three colours during dinner. If you don't have time, cut vegetables up and offer them with a dip. After a while, you'll get the hang of it and your family will expect to see those colours on the table!

Simple Formula: Use a simple formula for building a balanced meal that is easy for the family to remember: 3 colours + 1 protein + 1 healthy grain = a winning plate. Lee also has a fun points systems outlined in her book, to tracks points according to the colours you eat! 

Keep Colour Within Reach: Keep low shelves and drawers in your fridge stocked with pre-washed, precut veggies and fruit in containers they can easily pull out. A bowl of seasonal fruit on the table makes it accessible too!

Be Flexible: Think about all the colours over the course of the week rather than focus on each meal which gives you the chance to gage your family's eating habits and adjust what and how you cook. And be realistic. One "bad" meal is not going to erase a week of good ones. In fact, I think eating well most of the time, buys you the right to eat bad some of the time without the guilt!

It's challenging to get just one vegetable onto the table sometimes, but with rainbow carrots you get three! At the height of fall, coloured carrots are readily available at health food grocers such as Whole Foods and at farmer's markets.  Of course you can simply serve these cut into sticks with a nice dip, or as I will share with you today, do it one of two ways... a side dish with sweet and sour glaze or pickled... 

Orange for vitamin A, purple for anthocyanins and yellow for carotenoids and vitamin C

Have your kids help you with tasks in the kitchen depending on their age such as washing and peeling. When kids get involved with meal preparations they are more likely to eat it and its a bonding time! If they can't help with the actual cooking, let them watch you, tell them what you're doing and encourage questions!

The healthy nutrients in rainbow carrots are close to the surface 
so instead of peeling all the goodness way, either get organic
and scrub them well without peeling or peel lightly.

The first recipe is a cinch to prepare and super delicious with a sweet and sour profile that resonates with the pickiest kids! Cook carrots to your family's taste preference and add nuts for some crunch. Mine likes carrots crisp-tender. If your kids like soft carrots then cook it for five minutes more.

Sweet and Sour Glazed Rainbow Carrots

8 rainbow carrots, cut on a bias (an angle)
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. ketchup
2 Tbsp. water
1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1-2 Tbsp. chopped toasted almonds, walnuts or pine nuts (optional)

Look at the beautiful contrasting yellow centres in purple carrots!

Heat skillet on medium-high and add maple syrup and ketchup and bring it to a simmer. Add carrots and stir to coat; add water and cover. Turn down to medium heat and cook for ten minutes stirring halfway until crisp-tender. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley and nuts.

Served with quinoa tossed with tomato, sweet potato and
parsley, and chicken chorizo sausage. Nice and colourful!

Preserving and pickling is huge in the fall and these coloured carrots make a fabulous homemade pickle alternative as a side or in sandwiches with eye popping vibrancy. These have sweet and sour notes with crunch, inspired by the trendy daikon and carrot pickles in Vietnamese cuisine especially banh mi sandwiches.

Pickled Rainbow Carrots

(Half the recipe to make half the amount)

8 rainbow or regular carrots, cut into 2-inch sticks
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup warm water
½ cup rice vinegar
½ cup white vinegar
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed (optional)

Dissolve salt and sugar in warm water placed into a clean 3-cup jar. Fill with remaining ingredients, and carrots. Liquid should cover the top. Best eaten after 24 hours and can keep refrigerated for one month.


Thanks to the 52 New Foods Challenge we got inspired to eat the rainbow tonight!

If you are looking for ways to get your kids engaged in food and with meal preparations read Handy Helpers for some things I've done with mine. Stay tuned for more recipes and tips in the upcoming weeks to get you inspired in the kitchen with new foods! Don't forget to enter here for my book giveaway. Cheers!

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