Colorful Cookouts with Kids!

Memorial Day is a time to celebrate everyday HEROES who have selflessly sacrificed to enable us to have carefree cookouts. It also represents finish and starting lines of sorts. Its arrival means I have survived another long New England winter of snow, sleet, freezing rain and other forms of precipitation I never knew existed.  And it starts summer vacation, when my children, "Miff" & "Moe" are on their three month summer break (yes, you heard me correctly). And while I treasure those months of unstructured good times, it is, well, you know… So hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day, and thank you to our heroes!

This flag snack for kids has been repinned from our Pinterest page almost 100 times!!!

This flag snack for kids has been repinned from our Pinterest page almost 100 times!!!

I am going to come out and say it. I hate kid food. When we were growing up do you remember going to a restaurant where it was widely assumed that you could only eat five things? Neither do I. (You know those five things, right? Pizza, chicken nuggets, mac n cheese, burgers, hot dogs, and french fries for all). And kid food never comes with any vegetables because kids don’t like vegetables, right? Ughh! I like to call this the boring beige world. Well, it’s time to move beyond beige. Children love color. 

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Children’s clothing, toys, things are all brightly colored. Think of  your children’s art work – the best bright colors. Your kids pick out their clothes,  right? Some innovative color combinations, no? So why when it comes to kid food does it need to be beige?

Well this summer, let’s bring color to their food. There are so many wonderfully colorful fruits and vegetables that children can love. A client recently said to me one thing she had learned from me is how important presentation is to children. Color and  presentation go together. Colorful, beautifully presented food is enticing for people of all ages. And Summer cookouts are the perfect time to amp up the presentation and get kids excited about colorful food.

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Colors represent different nutrients, so the classic nutrition education approach for chidlren – eat a rainbow –  is  effective because they will consume a variety of nutrients in different colors.  In this blog, we will focus on the nutrition of different colors in the coming weeks, but in honor of memorial day, RED foods are typically high in antioxidants (lycopene, anthocyanins) that fight heart disease and may prevent some cancers. Strawberries are high in folic acid (important in pregnancy), and vitamin C (immune boosting). Cherries are high in fiber, vitamin C and potassium (which helps lower blood pressure). And watermelon and tomatoes are good sources of vitamin C and A. Tomatoes are also a rich source of Biotin (a B-complex vitamin that plays a role in blood sugar regulation). Yes, red foods are nutritional power-houses!

I host an annual Memorial Day family birthday cookout for my husband. It is a great time to get the generations together and celebrate the beginning of the season, and his birthday!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Side dishes and salads for cookouts can be healthy, colorful and delicious. I was determined to make a lighter cole slaw (not being a traditional cole slaw lover), so I came up with this colorful Jicama Slaw. It was a big hit at my party. Try it at your next cookout, and get your kids to help mix!

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Photo Credit: Petite Nutrition

Jicama Slaw

(Adapted from Sunset Magazine, May 2009)

1 Jicama, peeled then grated

1/2 small red cabbage, very thinly sliced

4 small carrots, grated

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1/2 bunched cilantro, finely chopped

For the dressing:

6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

6 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 Tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

1 champagne mango, diced

Combine all vegetables. In a separate bowl, whisk together dressing. Add dressing to vegetables, and refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to enhance. Garnish with cilantro.