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Colorful meals, using a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, are a great way to make sure you're getting a range of vitamins and antioxidants, suggests reader Laurel Swartz, who wrote to Wellbody Blog in response to another reader's query for tips on raising slim children.Colorful mealA rainbow of vegetables with bison meat and tomato sauce on polenta

Laurel shares some sample meals and snacks as well as her recipe for slow cooker chili!

A sample day of eating for my son is a bagel and cream cheese with blueberries for breakfast; a turkey and cheese quesadilla, sliced cucumbers and a mango for lunch; cookies and soy milk for a snack; and a colorful dinner to end the day. He also drinks water [rather than soda or juices] throughout the day. That keeps his calories where they need to be, in the food!

A simple colorful dinner: Roasted chicken with baked sweet potatoes, roasted beets, yellow peppers and Brussels sprouts. A good way to include some leafy greens is to use them as a base for the meat, laying the piece of chicken on the bed of kale or spinach and arranging the vegetables around the edge. Sometimes I top the whole plate with a bit of salsa or roasted tomatoes.

By the way, the picture is not of the chili. It is polenta with bison meat and tomato sauce [surrounded by an array of colorful vegetables.] It's another quick, yummy meal that's a little different than pasta.

A favorite crock-pot dish of ours is chili. It's a good way to include meat in smaller quantities.

Laurel's Slow Cooker Chili


1 lb grass-fed organic beef
1 onion, diced
2 C black beans
2 C kidney beans
Glass jar of organic tomato sauce or homemade sauce
2 whole fresh tomatoes, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
2 T chili powder
1 T pepper
1 t sea salt
1 T dry garlic or 2 – 3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 t Italian seasoning
Crushed red pepper to taste


Sauté the beef with the onions. While that's cooking, put the black beans and kidney beans in the crock pot, adding a glass jar of organic tomato sauce or homemade sauce. Add the tomatoes and yellow and orange pepper to the mix. Season with chili powder, pepper, sea salt, garlic and Italian seasoning. When the ground beef has browned, add to crock pot, letting it cook on low for two to three hours. Season with crushed red pepper to taste. Suggestion: Serve with a blend of quinoa and brown rice and a simple salad and steamed vegetable.

When Wellbody Blog posted readers for advice on how to eat healthy when you're eating out with kids, we received many wonderful tips as well as a this request: Please interview parents who raise slender children and share with us on Wellbody Blog about their staples, their food, their snacks, and how much they eat, regarding desserts, etc. Thank you a lot.LaurelandLucas

Many thanks to Laurel Swartz, mother of 12-year-old Lucas Fultz, for writing in to share her tips on meal planning, crock-pot cooking and the importance of eating fruits and veggies.

My son is twelve years old and he has never been overweight. He always has at least three meals a day, with a healthy snack thrown in on most days. He is home-schooled, in part so that he has a balanced diet. I still give him the foods he likes, but he can't have dessert unless he finishes his fruit and veggies.

My approach has never been denial of anything in particular, so no foods are off limits. However, I have taught him the importance of eating healthy foods so that he is getting the most nutrition from what he eats. We eat mainly organic foods and we don't have soda pop or too many snack foods on hand (other than fruit) to maximize nutrition benefits. Meals tend to be well-thought out events.

Since I am a personal trainer, nutrition is very important to me. I like to share nutrition facts with my son. We have gone over the food groups and how important fruits and vegetables are in your diet. I told him that it is best to try to balance protein, carbohydrates, and fats carefully and he has learned what groups each food falls into. I also told him that there is a place for every food, but fruits and vegetables remain the highest priority since they are packed with vitamins and minerals. I also don't limit his choices, encouraging him to try new foods and eat what he likes.

I chose to start eating primarily organic foods because I read a few articles that stated that kids could reduce their toxicity levels greatly by eating organic food. I am also conscious of where the fruits and vegetables come from, sometimes choosing conventional local produce instead of organic. It all depends upon what is in season.

I choose different colors to serve during the day. I always try to include as many colors of the rainbow in our diets as I can. With variety comes a spectrum of nutrition, too. I also don't like to just grab things on the go. If it is not quality food, it doesn't seem to be worth consuming. Quality definitely trumps quantity. I cook at home most days of the week, and when we do eat out, we choose sustainable and local foods from reputable restaurants. We limit processed foods and I create tasty meals with wholesome, fresh ingredients.

I think the most important thing about meals and meal preparation is giving it the time necessary to make good decisions. Instead of just rushing through the process of cooking, think ahead. Using a crock pot or setting the oven on low for a few hours are good techniques to give care and thought to what you are feeding your family. I feel that nutrition deserves a great deal of respect and everyone should use it as a means of preventing problems later on instead of just thinking about what to eat quickly in the moment.

Thank you, Laurel! Stay tuned for sample meals and snacks from Laurel as well as her recipe for slow cooker chili.