A rainbow of food for children to eat

Hemi Coates and his wife Nikki just love eating rainbows and creating rainbow food for children! Taranaki Community News caught up with them to find out how you can nourish your family with rainbow food.

Hemi, what’s your favourite nutritious food for each colour of the rainbow?
Red – Tomato
Green – Broccoli
Yellow- Kumara
Orange – Carrots
Purple – Beetroot
White & Beige – Potato

The reasons these foods are our favourite is because they’re cheap, easily accessible in NZ, versatile and super nutritious.

Last year you and Nikki launched a food delivery business for children called Eat a Rainbow. Where did that name come from?
The term “Eat a Rainbow” was something Nikki suggested to the families she worked with, when she was a maternal and youth dietitian. “Eat a range of foods that are naturally colourful and as close to their whole form as possible”.

Where did the idea for Eat a Rainbow come from?
Seeing families struggle through the concept of good nutrition is tough. That’s what motivated us to share our ideas with other families. We wanted to bring something positive to the table and help families feed their kids real, wholesome food. Nothing fancy, just food full of the good stuff they need to develop and grow.

Starting a family of our own helped us see what parents go through in today’s world. Ideally we would all have the time to cook healthy meals for our kids every night. But with many of us heading back to work to help cover living costs we simply don’t have the time, often resorting to the easy, cheap and bland alternative.

In your journey as a PE teacher, a parent, and as a part of Eat a Rainbow, you would have learned a lot. Can you share some of your top tips for nourishing your family?

  1. Don’t over think good nutrition. Serve simple, naturally colourful food. You can’t go wrong.
  2. Make vegetables the norm. Offer them at every meal as a side and/or try to hide them in the meal itself.
  3. Make sure your kids are hungry at dinner time.  Avoid offering too many snack foods for afternoon tea.
  4. Eat dinner with your kids at the table.
  5. Make peace with the fact that sometimes you might have to throw some food away. If its new, chances are they will be apprehensive about trying it. Even a sniff or a lick is an achievement.

Check out link to our blog about why kids like the tastes of some foods and not others.

What are three must-have ingredients you always have at home?

  1. Tinned tomatoes
  2. Frozen chopped Spinach
  3. Brown Lentils

All three of these ingredients can be added to heaps of meals, store well and lentils can act as a replacement for meat.

What can you tell us about your Eat A Rainbow meals?
It’s important for our meals to be fresh, full of vegetables, protein and good carbohydrates, and of course be affordable. We wanted to give parents the option to choose a healthy meal for the same price and effort as it is to feed them the cheap takeaway alternatives.

Our meals are designed to take the pressure off parents a few nights a week, enabling them to spend more time with their kiddies before the bath/bedtime rush.  If there is one thing I have come to realise from being a working parent, it is that time is a precious and limited resource when it comes to spending it with your kids.

Eat a Rainbow started out just offering meals for children, but you now create meals for older people as well. Is there a difference in what nutrients toddlers need, verses older people?

We all go through a dietary circle, whereby we start life as a baby eating simple, unsalted, low sugar, nutrient dense foods and ironically end up needing the same sort later on. Our meals are perfect for those with smaller appetites and are soft to the bite.

What has the community reacted to Eat a Rainbow?
Great! We did a lot of market research and established that there was a growing need for a product like this. And we aren’t surprised that there are so many other parents out there just like us, wanting to offer good food to their children but don’t have time on their side.  

Many of our customers are from dual income households with both parents working. For them it’s not about being lazy, it’s about being efficient and accepting the help on offer.

What we were surprised with was how many people started buying the meals for their parents and grandparents who were struggling to make a decent meal for themselves at home. It’s a great feeling knowing that we are helping them now too.

Care to share an easy recipe for our readers to make at home?

Fast & Healthy Spag Bol

Onions (diced)
Garlic (crushed)
Carrot (grated)
Tomato paste
Dried oregano
Dried basil
Tinned Tomato
Beef stock
Tinned brown lentils
Frozen spinach
Wholemeal Spaghetti

Brown the mince and set aside.
In the same pan saute the onion, carrot and garlic until soft.
Add tomato paste, herbs and worcestershire. Stir until fragrant.
Add the tinned tomatoes stock, lentils and spinach and allow to simmer until reduced.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 12 minutes until al dente.

Drain the pasta and serve the mince mixture on top of the spaghetti topped with grated cheese.