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Northern Panhandle Head Start

Serving Pregnant Women & Families With Children, Birth to Five Years Old in Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall & Wetzel Counties of West Virginia.

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Nutrition - Understanding the Importance of Purple

Growing up did you ever think that the colors of the rainbow could have healthful benefits?  In fact, studies have shown that the more color we put in our diet by consuming different fruits and veggies, the greater our chances are of fighting off certain diseases, namely certain types of cancers.  The colors of fruits and vegetables out there literally provide us with a cornucopia of vitamins and nutrients as well as anti-oxidants, so what’s not to like about that rainbow?

With this is mind during the month of March and celebrating National Nutrition Month, I armed myself with information specifically on purple fruits and veggies to share with our Head Start Families in the hopes of stirring some interest in this overlooked “super-food” category.  I say this because what could be a better way to “Get Your Plate in Shape,” which was the theme for the month, as 93% of individuals do not even consume the color purple!  However the benefits of reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome (precursor to type 2 diabetes) might give this color a head start over their red, green or yellow counterparts.   I spoke at a few parent meetings touting the benefits of consuming purple and how simple it is to grow these overlooked fruits and veggies.  I even did a comparison shopping basket to prove that you could buy the color purple cost effectively to feed your family for a week!

The end result was that a teacher and her class opted to plant a “purple garden” at the Orchard Park Centerwith the hopes of sampling some of their homegrown goodies.  We carefully planted the seeds in pop bottle planters against the playground wall in the spring and lovingly watered and watched for signs of life.  As the beans, corn and lettuce began to sprout there was much discussion over the fact that the plants were actually green and how the end product could possibly be purple.  Meanwhile the plants continued to grow in their small homes till it was time to transplant them to an in-ground location on the Early Head Start side of our facility. The older children were out for the summer and this gave the little ones a unique opportunity to participate in the gardening process.  The end result was the three years olds in OP C classroom could pick the purple lettuce when it was ready to be harvested and then washed, dried, and pulled it apart into bite sized pieces for individual salads.  Each child was then given a bowl and their choice of dressing.  We talked about the growing process, what it looked like, what it smelled like, and what it would taste like.  Then one by one the children began sampling their salads, some of them digging in with gusto, others following the leader and some just liking the dressing from the leaves.

Overall the experience was exactly what we hoped it would be, a positive experience tied to exposure with a new food from garden to table and all with the children participating in every step of the process!   Click here to view this adventure in story format.  Each child received a copy of the print "OP C and the Tale of the Purple Lettuce".

For more information on the benefits of purple fruits and veggies, please visit www.healthmad.com, www.producepedia.com, or www.livestrong.com.     

To learn more about this fun activity, please contact Laura Weigel, Health/Nutrition Specialist, 304.233.3290 or via email at lweigel@npheadstart.org

 

 

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