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Mother Knows Best

My mother, that is (not me).

Maybe it’s because of all the wisdom she accumulated raising three kids, or maybe it’s just plain old Midwestern resourcefulness, but she seems to often (not always) know best.  She knows how to paint rooms and arrange flowers and install screens and strip floors and sew comforters and fix almost anything.  She knows how to make people feel special and loved, no matter who they are.  And most impressively to me these days, she knows how to get kids to eat vegetables.

Her trick is simple: between the time you wake up and the time you go to bed, make sure you eat a food from every color of the rainbow.  Jelly Bellies don’t count.  I’ve heard the “you should eat a rainbow of foods every day” meme for decades, but I never thought about actively using it to get my kids to get more greens and purples; and most importantly, how to check my own diet (lots of days, I’d eat oatmeal for three meals a day without thinking about getting some colors beyond grey).  My mom makes it into a checklist.  At lunchtime, she takes the kids through which colors they’ve hit thus far (blueberries for breakfast – check, avocado at lunch – check) and then sets them up to fill in the missing colors during snack or dinnertime.  It’s brilliant — they love it.  All of a sudden, prunes aren’t disgusting, they’re the key to checking purple off the list.  And instead of snacking on crackers, they’re snacking on edamame (green – check).

It’s a gift to give a kid this mental checklist to carry with him/her into adulthood, and I’m grateful my mother has given them one that never occurred to me.  If you like the rainbow concept and are looking to fill a bowl with lots of colors, here’s an amazing chili recipe we made the other night:

Turkey Chili

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 T jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 14-oz can Mexican style tomatoes
  • 2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 T cumin
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 C water

Brown meat with onions, add everything else, simmer 1-2 hours.  And voila — red, orange, yellow, and green checked off.  Just add a few blueberries and grapes for dessert and you’re all set!

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