Eat the Rainbow

Eat the Rainbow

Ever heard the expression, 'Eat the Rainbow'? Dr Preeya Alexander’s newest book Full Plate explains how (and why) to do exactly that, even when you have a house full of picky eaters.

Preeya, tell us how the idea for this book came about?

"Full Plate" is all about simple, delicious, veggie packed meals that anyone can create. I love cooking and am passionate about the impact that diet can have on both mental and physical health (for adults and kids), and this book encapsulates that passion. I'm also all about one meal for everyone—whether you have allergies, intolerances or fussy eaters around the table. To make things easy, the book has a key so the reader can navigate the recipes that might suit them and their family. There are also tips on how to tweak recipes for people with additional requirements, like infants and young children.

What’s your belief on feeding a family? What philosophy do you follow?

I'm really into the idea of having one meal for everyone! I try and shove as many rainbows as I can into a meal (without any judgement eithera rainbow is a rainbow whether it's canned, fresh or frozenit yields benefits for the body and brain) and keep things simple, cost effective and perhaps most importantly delicious.

I think food should be enjoyed and I do believe that food is about more than just nutrition aloneit's about bringing people together, creating joy and comfort if needed.

You’re a doctor which means you know a lot of stuff. What are your top tips on kids and food?

I could go on about this topic. When it comes to infants and starting solids my top tips are to try and introduce the common allergy causing foods into the diet before the age of one (and keep them in the diet if there is no reaction) to reduce the risk of food allergies (there are lots of tips on this in the book!).

And with young kids, never underestimate the power of food exposure. There is lots of research showing that for young children, particularly under the age of three, it can take 11-15 food exposures before they accept a particular target food. So if your child doesn't love broccoli todaydon't despair, persistsing about broccoli, read about it, point it out at the supermarket. Get excited about broccoli in the kitchen and at the dinner table and don't give up! Again, I talk about this in the book and provide parents/caregivers with lots of tips on feeding kids.

What veggie do you feel is the most versatile? 

Gosh I do love zucchini and throw it into nearly anything to bump up the veggie intake. In Full Plate I constantly talk about ways to sneak veggies into meals, and zucchini comes up time and time againas does silverbeet and canned beans (be warned, I get very passionate). I also share a chocolate and zucchini muffin recipe, so yes, zucchini is probably the most versatile veggie! 

What fruit packs the best bang for its buck? 

Whatever is in season! I try to eat seasonally and it certainly helps keep things budget friendly. So, I don't think I have a clear answer here. Every fruit has a place, and ideally you want to aim for a broad range of fruit and veg (and colours) in the diet to support gut health. So eating mandarins, grapes and all the rest when they are in season has it's wins.

What are your top three dishes from this book that are regulars on your table? 

Gosh this is a BIG question and my kids would answer differently, I think (they definitely have their favourites). The ones I make fortnightly (at least) are "Staple Beans" (budget friendly, so easy to whip up, veggie packed and SO versatilethink nachos, burritos, bowls), tuna mornay (the kids request this all the time), and dahl (such a great, easy, cost-effective recipe that feeds our whole family). 

What kinds of eaters are your kids, and have they always been this way? 

My kids are fairly adventurousmy daughter in particular is a foodie who will try new things and have a go. Both of them are very used to my rainbow language (and put up with it) and have been in veggie gardens and kitchens with me (chopping and mixing) since they were toddlers.

Whilst we have had fussiness rear its head at times (which is also developmentally very normal)I have to say that day to day, they are pretty easy-going eaters who will try most things. But please know I've had my frustrating moments as a parent when fussy eating patches entered our home.

You have 10 minutes. What recipe can you whip up in that time that goes by the 'eat the rainbow' philosophy? 

Tuna mornay, or the 3-minute dumpling noodle rainbow soup that I share in the book.

What are your go to meals to freeze? 

Dahl, bolognese and any soup from the book.

Who inspires your cooking? 

I'm passionate about doing everything I can to reduce our family's chronic disease risk and support physical and mental wellbeing. As a GP, I am very conscious of the role that diet (along with other things like physical activity, stress management and others) plays in this. It’s a huge factor that inspires my cooking. When I'm cooking, I'm actively thinking of ways to bump up the veggies, reduce the salt and yield all the health benefits!

What kind of cooking did you grow up around? 

My Mum was a huge inspiration for me. I've been in the kitchen with her from a very young age and adopted her ethos of one meal for everyone with plenty of rainbows! Mum's always been about quick, easy, nourishing meals and it's rubbed off.

What was your comfort food as a kid?

My grandma's tuna curry and my Mum's dahl. 

What’s your one tip for busy families who want to 'eat the rainbow'? 

Yummy veggie packed food doesn't have to be difficult or expensive and don't forget that every rainbow (fresh, canned or frozen) counts.


Eat the Rainbow was an interview with Dr Preeya Alexander for Hello Lunchlady.

Full Plate is proudly published by Simon & Schuster. For stockists see here. Portrait and recipe photographed by Lawrence Furzey.

Tags parenting