Science Enrichment at Home and After School
Everyone knows that eating fruits and vegetables is good for you, but new studies show eating enough of them may actually improve your mood, and the same is true for kids. Researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand tracked the eating habits of 281 young adults and found a direct correlation between the amount of fruits and vegetables (juice doesn’t count) and positive moods and feelings. “On days when people ate more fruits and vegetables, they reported feeling calmer, happier and more energetic than they normally did,” says researcher Dr. Tamlin Conner.
How much makes a difference? According to Dr. Conner, “young people would need to consume approximately seven to eight total servings of fruits and vegetables per day to notice a meaningful positive change. One serving of fruit or vegetables is approximately the size that could fit in your palm, or half a cup. My co-author Bonnie White suggests that this can be done by making half your plate at each meal vegetables and snacking on whole fruit like apples.” A Harvard study suggests that the same is true for adults, citing a connection between feelings of optimism and the amount of serum antioxidants in the blood. Those can be found in deep green and orange foods like spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli, kale and apricots.
While fresh fruits and vegetables can be high in price and low in flavor during the winter months, food guru Mark Bittman reminds us that frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutrients as fresh, as long as you don’t boil all of the vitamins out of them.
It’s easy to say that we all need to eat more fruits and veggies, but how do we make it happen? My kids much prefer cold veggies to hot, even in winter, so our dinner table usually includes a plate of cut vegetables – carrots, cucumbers, red and yellow peppers, and grape tomatoes. We also leave out a bowl of apples and pears, which have good flavor in winter. Our salads always have deep greens like spinach and arugula buried in them, and I add a little goat or grated romano cheese to counter the bitterness they can have.
But if the salad and plain fruits and veggies don’t appeal, here are ten winter food to try that might tempt kids and adults alike: