Eat a Rainbow!

The enthusiastic participation of many different people and organizations made this fall’s Eat a Rainbow Week a success. Here are some highlights from the week.

On Monday, students from CCCC’s Natural Chef program visited Kindergarten classes throughout the county. They read fun fruit and vegetable themed books like Lunch by Denise Fleming and Rah Rah Radishes by April Pulley Sayre and talked to Kindergarteners about what it’s like being chef students.

On Tuesday, young and old joined for fun Eat a Rainbow activities at the Fearrington Farmers’ Market. It was yellow and orange day and there was an amazing variety of yellow and orange winter squashes on sale.

On Wednesday, the Children’s Librarian for the Chatham Community Library held one of her weekly story times, but this week’s story times were all focused on fruits and vegetables. And it wasn’t just fun for the kids, as she told us it was fun for her too! “My two favorite books this year were Lunch by Denise Fleming and Banana by Ed Vere. Lunch has beautiful, colorful illustrations showing the very edge of a veggie on one page, letting kids guess what veggie the little mouse is going to eat next. Lots of fun guesses, the hardest one to guess was a turnip. Banana is one of my new favorite books, it utilizes only the word ‘banana’ and ‘please’. When you get 20 or so kids yelling ‘banana’ at you, you can’t help but love your job.”

On Thursday, kids and families, wearing the colors of the day (blue and purple), braved the rain and cold to participate in Eat a Rainbow activities at the Pittsboro Farmers Market. Among the fun opportunities, Angelina from Angelina’s Kitchen gave kids the chance to turn different foods purple using beet powder!

Friday was a day off from school, but schools were busy throughout prior few days with nutrition-focused, colorful fun! Staff and students wore the colors of the day, ate the colors of the day at snack and at lunch, and participated in nutrition-focused lessons and activities in their classes. As one teacher told us, “It is much more meaningful when they (students) see a unified approach to promoting healthy eating, with the message coming from the cafeteria, their regular classrooms, their art, P.E., and music classes, in announcements, and from the principal and the rest of the school staff. The students are aware it is my job, as a health/PE instructor, to teach them about how to establish healthy habits, but it really hits home when the whole school is involved.”

On Saturday, a number of kids got the chance to do an Eat a Rainbow Scavenger Hunt at the Chatham Mills Farmers Market. They searched for different colored fruits and vegetables at the various stands and talked with growers about their favorites.

Throughout the week, Chatham residents enjoyed fruit and vegetable artwork created by Pittsboro Elementary School 1st grade students, Perry Harrison Elementary School 2nd grade students, and Jordan Matthews High School art students. The Chatham Community Library received many compliments on the art display in their lobby, and student artists paid a visit to Chatham Marketplace to see their artwork on display. Photos of some of this artwork are included in the slideshow above.

Please let us know what you thought of this Fall’s Eat a Rainbow Week Click here to take survey


Eat a Rainbow Week, Spring 2011

School Health Liaison, Ellie Morris, with students' artwork

The creativity and dedication of many different organizations and individuals all over Chatham County led to a successful Eat a Rainbow Week 2011, coordinated and led by Ellie Morris, School Health Liaison with the Chatham County Public Health Department. Participants included all of Chatham County Schools 10 primary and elementary sites as well as local businesses and restaurants, the CCCC Natural Chef Program, and the Chatham Community Library in Pittsboro.

The Eat a Rainbow focus at the schools meant that students got to snack on and fill their cafeteria trays with a variety of fruits and vegetables over the course of the week. Thanks to cafeteria staff, teachers, and parents at all 10 schools, students tried new foods such as kiwi, seaweed, squash, celery, and purple cabbage.

One staff member at Virginia Cross Elementary told Ms. Morris, “I really enjoyed the salad because it had flavorful greens like chard in it. The students were wary at first, but when I pointed out the many leaves and explained how tasty they were, they were more willing to try it out.”

Students also learned about healthy eating in class, and with the guidance of their art teachers, created fruit and vegetable themed artwork to decorate their cafeterias and local restaurants.

The Chatham Community Library spread the Eat a Rainbow message to young children and their families by reading food-related books during their story times and making a prominent display of their favorite food-themed children’s books.

Restaurants in Siler City, Silk Hope and Pittsboro displayed artwork from Virginia Cross, Perry Harrison, Pittsboro Elementary and Silk Hope School students which was enjoyed by the students, restaurant staff, and customers. A few restaurants also made a point of highlighting fruits and vegetables on their menus during the week.

Some dishes of note included the Catherine’s Cranberry Pecan Salad at S & T’s Soda Shoppe, the rainbow-colored Veggie Cobb Salad at Virlie’s, a dish with locally grown purple sweet potato and collards at Angelina’s Kitchen, and a vibrant butternut squash soup at the CCCC Natural Chef Café. Chatham Marketplace encouraged residents to Eat a Rainbow by discounting a different color of produce every day.

You can learn more about Eat a Rainbow Week 2011, see what we posted during the week, and view a slideshow of activities by scrolling down.

If you have questions about Eat a Rainbow Week or would like to be involved in the future, contact Ellie Morris, School Health Liaison with the Chatham County Public Health Department at 919-545-8514 or


Check out photos of Eat a Rainbow Week Spring 2011 activities around the county!


Monday- 3/7/11- Eat Red Today!

Red fruitThe color of the day is red.  There are so many delicious red fruits and vegetables, that fitting red into your meals today and every day should be a snap! And as the weather starts to warm, be sure to check your local farmers markets and farm stands for locally grown strawberries in early summer and for watermelons and tomatoes when summer is in full swing.

Why eat red?

Many red fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, like grapefruit, guavas, raspberries, radishes, red bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon.  Vitamin C is important for the body as it helps the gums stay healthy and helps your skin heal from cuts and scrapes. Red fruits and vegetables also contain lycopene and anthocyanins. Research is being done to determine if these substances have a role to play in cancer prevention and treatment.





Try these healthy red snack ideas:

  • red apple, blood orange wedges, pomegranate seeds, dried cranberries, red grapes, strips of red bell pepper with dip
  • red/pink 100% juices like tomato, pomegranate, cranberry or pink grapefruit
  • Strawberries, raspberries, and cherries can also make delicious snacks, but this time of year it’s hard to get them fresh and for a good price.  Using frozen berries or cherries in a smoothie is a great way to snack on berries out of season. Check out this easy smoothie recipe.

Celebrate red at lunch or dinner with a salad!

For a savory salad that celebrates red, start with a bed of salad greens and top with sliced radishes, strips of red bell pepper and dried cranberries, chunks of blood orange, or pomegranate seeds.  If you want to get extra fancy, look for red leaf lettuce or mix some finely sliced radicchio in with your salad greens.  To keep with the red theme, you can even dress this salad with raspberry vinaigrette! (here’s a recipe!)  To make this salad into a more substantial meal on its own, think about topping with a lean protein source such as grilled chicken, tuna or salmon, or drained canned beans such as chick peas or red (!) kidney beans.

Eat red in Pittsboro!

See what Angelina’s Kitchen is serving up today for red day and everyday this week!


Tuesday – 3/8/11 – Eat Orange & Yellow Today!

papaya With two colors to choose from today, you have double the options for eating today’s colors! There are some great, easily available fruits and vegetables in this color category like oranges and carrots, but there are also some wonderful tropical fruits that you might like to try, like mango, papaya, pineapple, Ugli fruit, kumquat, or star fruit.  If you’d like to try one but don’t quite know where to start, check this website to learn how to choose and prepare them:

Why eat orange and yellow?

Many orange and yellow fruits and vegetables provide the body with Vitamin A which helps keep the eyes and skin healthy and helps protect the body from infections. Even though oranges are orange in color, they actually don’t provide Vitamin A (but they do provide a lot of vitamin C!). Crunchy orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes are a good bet for Vitamin A.  They contain 20% of the recommended daily value per serving, along with fruits like cantaloupe, apricot, mango, and grapefruit.

Veggie of the day!

Farmer's market, Jul 2009 - 10Sweet Potato: Not only are sweet potatoes full of vitamin A like other crunchy orange vegetables, you can find North Carolina-grown sweet potatoes almost year-round here! And, they’re so versatile—sweet potatoes can be substituted in place of white potatoes, can be eaten as dinner or dessert, and can be found in cuisines from around the world.  Try a baked sweet potato instead of your normal baked potato, oven-baked sweet potato fries or sweet potato custard . Learn more about sweet potatoes from The Produce Lady from  North Carolina Cooperative Extension.

Try these orange and yellow snack ideas:

  • Sliced papaya or mango, orange wedges or clementines, dried apricots, or pineapple chunks
  • Baby carrots, carrot sticks or yellow/orange bell pepper strips with dip


Wednesday – 3/9/11 – Eat Green Today!

The color of the day is green. A green salad is always a good standby for getting in your vegetable servings. Remember that because of the air mixed in with the salad greens, you need to measure out 2 cups of salad greens to equal a 1 cup serving.

Why Eat Green?

spinach bowlDark green vegetables like collard greens and spinach contain calcium for strong bones.  And as we know from Popeye, spinach also contains iron to feed the blood and keep us feeling energized and strong.  Green soybeans are another green vegetable that is a good source of iron. Did you know that because of the Vitamin C that it contains, drinking orange juice along with your iron-rich foods will help your body absorb the iron?

Many green vegetables also contain high levels of folate, which may reduce a woman’s risk of having a baby with certain birth defects and may reduce the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases. For folate, eat broccoli, collard greens, spinach, lima beans, brussels sprouts, lettuce and artichokes.



Try these healthy green snack ideas:

  • Many green fruit and vegetables are great for dipping, like broccoli, celery, green pepper slices, snow peas, cucumber sticks, and green apples. You can make or buy low-fat dips, or just dip celery and apples into a little dollop of peanut butter!
  • Other great green snacks include, green grapes, kiwi slices, green apples or pears, honeydew melon, and edamame (green soy beans)

Green up your meal!

portabella burgerYou can always have a side salad with your meal or have a side dish of green vegetables, but what about featuring green in your main dish? Here are some ideas!

  • Stuff your sandwich! Lettuce, spinach, and other salad greens are an easy way to green up a sandwich. What about adding sliced cucumber, avocado, or green bell peppers? Or, using guacamole instead of mayonnaise? You can even mix sliced green grapes or diced green apple into a favorite chicken salad recipe for a great sandwich filling!
  • Add green to pasta by adding frozen peas, broccoli, or spinach to boiling pasta water a couple minutes before the pasta is finished.  Drain everything together and use your favorite sauce.  Another easy green pasta idea is this Crazy, Curly Broccoli Bake.
  • Try a green quesadilla by making your filling with spinach and low-fat Monterey jack or cheddar cheese.  Serve with avocado and salsa verde (green salsa)!


Thursday – 3/10/11 – Eat Blue and Purple Today!

Purple Sweet PotatoesAlthough less of the common fruits and vegetables that we eat are blue and purple (compared to other color groups) there are still some delicious options. Summer’s fresh-picked blueberries are a treat, frozen blueberries are perfect for whole-grain pancakes or smoothies, and raisins make a great snack anytime. Also, you can increasingly find purple varieties of vegetables like string beans, bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, and even sweet potatoes at local farmers markets!

Why Eat Blue and Purple?

Similar to red fruits and vegetables, purple fruits and vegetables also contain anthocyanins which may have a role to play in preventing and treating cancer. Additionally, blueberries may increase memory function in older adults.


berriesTry these healthy blue and purple snack ideas:

  • Raisins, purple grapes, and dried or fresh plums
  • Frozen blueberries and blackberries can be blended into a delicious blue or purple smoothie!

A versatile dish to help you fit purple in every day:

Try making cole slaw with red cabbage instead of green for a purple take on an old favorite.  Slaw is great because you can stuff sandwiches with it, use it in tacos, or just keep it as a side dish.  Slaw recipes abound-use your favorite or try this one.

6 responses to “Eat a Rainbow!

  1. I didn’t know that Vitamin C helped with those things, good to know. Have a fun Eat a Rainbow Week!

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