Cornucopia of vegetables

Autumn decorations such as pictures of cornucopia’s overflowing with vegetables provides opportunities for parents to introduce more vegetables to children.

Most autumn decorating images are of a horn shaped basket overflowing with bright colored autumn vegetables called a cornucopia. Orange pumpkins, red, yellow and green striped squash, bright yellow ears of corn, green and red cabbage, red beets, cranberries along with wheat stalks and a variety of nuts and seeds billow out of the cornucopia. This image over the years has been used to represent autumn and Thanksgiving.

The colors of these vegetables are vivid and their shapes are as unique as their taste. It is not surprising that we are attracted to their unique shapes and bright colors. Michigan State University Extension says that green, leafy vegetables and orange colored vegetables have the most amount of vitamins compared to other vegetables, and therefore are recommended to eat more often. Most households decorate their doorsteps with pumpkins and cornstalks in celebration of autumn. The Jack-o-lantern is the number one symbolic feature of Halloween. An assortment of squash and leafy vegetables such as kale and cabbage are becoming just as popular due to their whimsical shapes and textures. For this reason, autumn is the best season to introduce children to vegetables.

Parents need to think of autumn as an opportunity to get children interested in vegetables to eat, not just a medium for creative art. Pumpkin is the largest of the squash family and can be served as a side dish. Roasted and seasoned pumpkin seeds and kale can be prepared as a healthy snack. Cranberries can be used in a variety of creative ways – add a punch to sauces to use for meats, prepare appetizer dips or use to add color and nutrients to ice water. Children who are included on the meal preparations will usually try at least a small sample of what they helped prepare.

Another option to consider to get children interested in vegetables is to leaf through vegetable catalogs that arrive in the mail (usually in January) and consider having a vegetable garden or container garden next spring. Children (and adults too) usually will consume more vegetables if they plan, nurture, harvest and prepare them. The vegetables that you don’t consume can then be used as fall decorations.

Next time you see a cornucopia, be sure to point it out to childen and identify the healthy benefits.

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