Taste the rainbow: 6 colorful, kid-friendly meal ideas

colorful recipes

I'll never forget the night before my son's first really big day of preschool; I was going to mark the occasion with a healthier, homemade version of his fast food favorite. I smugly cooked up some chicken fingers (organic with whole grain breading, of course) and some oven-baked fries. Dessert was vanilla yogurt topped with banana slices.

Culinary Arts

My enthusiasm diminished as I plated it. Sure, I healthified the heck out of the happy meal, but the result was still a sad beige result void of nutritional variety (and visual interest). Was this how I wanted to fuel my son for such a momentous occasion? That night, I committed myself to serving much more colorful dishes.

Eating by color

Nutritionists will tell you that the best way to ensure your child is getting a broad variety of nutrients is to serve a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. The color of your produce provides clues to its nutritional content: red choices tend to be high in cancer-fighting lycopene, orange and yellow choices are rich in beta-carotene, and so on. Colorful plates also add visual interest, a clever ploy for encouraging your little one to eat up. Here are just a few ideas to help you get started.

Colorful meal ideas

Oatmeal with mix-ins: Start with a wholesome bowl of Irish oats, the healthiest variety on the shelves. Stir in an assortment of dried or fresh fruit. Toss in some walnuts, almonds or flax seed to boost healthy fat, including brain-empowering omega fatty acids. Tip: Prepare slow-cooking Irish oats overnight in the crock pot for stress-free mornings.

Rainbow salad: Start with shredded or thinly sliced carrots, red peppers, cucumber (or zucchini), and any other veggie you think your kids will eat, then toss in your favorite homemade vinaigrette. For an Asian flare, toss in a dressing of olive and sesame oils, garlic, grated ginger and a dash of soy sauce.

Fruit kabobs: Everything tastes better on a stick. Cube or slice a diversity of colorful fruit and thread onto either blunted skewers or coffee stirrers. Serve alongside a yogurt or cream cheese dip.

Summer pasta: Toss hot, cooked pasta with sautéed zucchini, onion and mushrooms. Stir in chopped, roasted red pepper and spinach. Cover until the greens have wilted, then finish with some feta cheese and a drizzle of heart-healthy olive oil.

Hummus faces: Toast a whole grain pita or English muffin, then top with a layer of hummus. Use assorted vegetables to design a "face." Be creative. Use olive for eyes, a tomato wedge for a mouth, shredded carrots for hair and so forth.

Veggie roll-ups: Start with a whole grain tortilla spread with a layer of cream cheese (hint: mix the cream cheese with some mashed avocado for a healthy boost). Top with finely diced veggies. Roll the tortilla and slice into bite-size "pinwheels" or "snails." For a sweet treat, replace the veggies with fresh or dried fruit.

Strategies for picky eaters

If a colorful plate doesn't tempt your child to indulge in their veggies, try another approach. If you serve a side salad with pizza, your child is much more likely to fill up on the latter. Instead, offer a variety of veggies with dip while you prepare dinner to limit the unhealthy competition. Also consider including your child in meal preparation: pick out your produce together, then encourage your child to help you prepare and serve it. Getting your child involved in the kitchen is a sure-fire way to pique their culinary interest.

Featured Culinary Schools

Refine School Matches
Hide filters

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            1 Program(s) Found
            • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
            • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
            • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
            • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 11:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            3 Program(s) Found
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Le Cordon Bleu provides hands-on training from professional chef instructors.
            • Offer Flexible schedules and online programs to fit busy lives, Certificate, Associates, Bachelors and online programs available. Programs vary by location.
            • Le Cordon Bleu provides a pathway from essential foundational training to advanced culinary degrees.
            • Building on 100 years, Le Cordon Bleu is a leader in the culinary arts with a well-known name and quality reputation in the culinary and hospitality industry.
            • While attending, you’ll spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Gives students the opportunity to earn their associate’s degree in the culinary arts field in less than 15 months or bachelor’s degree in the food service management field in 2.5 years through their year-round schedule.
            • Located in Norfolk and Newport News, Virginia.
            • Offers externship experiences to students for experience in the field.
            • Hosts regular career fairs for employer recruitment.
            • Has student housing available.
            • Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC).
            Show more [+]