While some kids enjoy eating their vegetables, others need more encouragement and motivation to do so. Our guest bloggers have striven to present quick and easy dishes that they have found to appeal to their children.
Meet this week's featured blogger for the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 virtual event - Sarah Creighton of Veggie-Kids. Sarah is a mum of three and the author of two children illustration books - The Boy Who Loved Broccoli and Clover's Great Escape; the latter is endorsed by farm sanctuaries as well as John Robbins, author or "Food Revolution" and "Diet For A New America" and also by Neal Barnard, MD, founder of PCRM.org and revolutionary clinical researcher.
When I learnt about how Sarah cured a large ovarian cyst through her diet only, I was reminded yet again of the healing power of the food we eat. For the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids event, Sarah is sharing with us her quick and easy Broccoli Tomato Pasta recipe. But let's get to know Sarah a little bit more first.
- When did you start your blog and what triggered your interest in writing a vegan food blog?
Veggie-Kids began back in 2009 after I was diagnosed with a large ovarian cyst. Wanting to avoid surgery, I went on a mission to heal myself through plants (foods, teas, tonics). I learned that although I was eating healthy at the time, my pH balance in my body was off. I healed myself completely within 2-3 weeks using plants only. At that point I was sold! I decided to dedicate a blog to keep track of the healthy foods I was making for myself and my family. Veggie-Kids.com has been growing ever since!
- Was the transition to a vegan diet challenging for yourself and your family?
Becoming vegan wasn't much of a challenge for me as I was so motivated and amazed by the new world of foods that were opened up to me. My kids were fine with it as they've always loved healthy foods since that's what I've fed them from the start. Kids seem to be excited by whatever the grown-ups in their household are excited about though (i.e., if mom likes veggies, kids most likely will too!)
My husband is a meat-eater and although I've tried to change him, he's set in his ways. He has come around to drinking green smoothies every morning and eating much healthier though! ;)
- What type of vegetable dishes have you found to be most successful with children?
I've done a lot of research finding out what vegan meals families and kids would like best. While many families here in America prefer dishes with cheese such as lasagna or mac'n cheese, they also like foods you can eat with your hands like tacos. The very best veggie-filled meals that kids will actually eat are the ones they participate in making. If a child has a chance to pick out a few ingredients from the grocery store and help prepare the meal, they are so much more likely to eat and enjoy it!
- How do you deal with your children when they refuse to eat a particular vegetable or dish?
In dealing with a child's refusal to eat a vegetable or dish I think parents need to chill! I believe in intuitive eating and kids are the best at this, as long as they have healthy choices. So I suggest parents give their kids 2-3 healthy options if they're a picky eater. That gives the power back to the child but it's still a win-win because they only have a healthy choice to make. For example, if the child refuses to eat his broccoli, don't make a big deal out of it (although I would suggest reading my book "The Boy Who Loved Broccoli" to them!). Just set out some other options like cauliflower or salad leaves with salad dressing to dip if they like.
I like to tell parents to look at the whole week of their child's eating, not just a day's worth. Most likely, they're getting in all their nutrients over a few days. Most of us have seen a baby or toddler only want to eat one or two foods only over and over again. Once their body has had enough of whatever nutrient they're craving, they will move on!
- Do you have any tips for vegans mums or parents to make dinner preparation quicker and more appetizing for kids?
In making mealtime a smoother process, I suggest setting out a plate of freshly cut veggies, bell peppers and olives-making it look fun and colorful. So while mom (or dad) is cooking the meal, the kids are munching away on healthy stuff. This also eases parents minds when their child refuses a vegetable at dinnertime because they know he/she ate some healthy goodies before dinner!
- Can you talk a little about your illustration books - “The Boy Who Loved Broccoli” and your newest one “Clover’s Great Escape”? What inspired you to write them?
My two children's books are both now available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. My first book, "The Boy Who Loved Broccoli", was to help kids get excited about eating their green vegetables. It's had great success as I've heard from many parents who were amazed at their kids reaction after reading the book to them. They actually are eager to eat broccoli and get superpowers! It was designed to help alleviate that struggle parents have with getting their kids to eat veggies.
My brand new children's book "Clover's Great Escape" was based on a real-life events. It's about a cow who escapes the slaughterhouse and eventually finds her way into a farm sanctuary. I wrote this book to raise our consciousness about factory farming. It's a real problem in many countries and effects so many things, not just the animals and our bodies but our waterways, our ozone layer, our world. Written in a gentle way, "Clover's Great Escape" was endorsed by farm sanctuaries who loved it as well as two people I highly respect in the plant-based eating industry; John Robbins, author or "Food Revolution" and "Diet For A New America" and also by Neal Barnard, MD, founder of PCRM.org and revolutionary clinical researcher.
Both books can be found at Veggie-Kids.com or Amazon.com.
- Are there any other projects you are working on?
As far as future projects,
I am currently working hard on a 30-day vegan dinner eCourseI've now officially opened enrollment for my eCourse, The 30-Day Vegan, where moms and dads can sign up to learn how to cook easy, family-friendly vegan dinners for 30 days. I've created delicious recipes that have been kid-tested and approved. The eCourse will includeincludes meal plans, shopping lists, support and bonus material. I'm hoping to have it launched in late July '14!The course starts August 1st. Enroll here.
- Anything else you would like to share?
People wanting more help with vegan eating can get my FREE Vegan Starter Guide at Veggie-Kids.com, along with a FREE Vegan Q & A's guide, answering the most common questions and concerns about going vegan.
Quick Broccoli Tomato Pasta
This is a fantastic go-to meal during the week when you're pressed for time. Have your kids help you wash the veggies or stir the onions. It's also great served cold the next day for lunch!
Ingredients (makes 8 servings)
1 lb. (16 oz.) whole wheat rotini pasta
1 1/2 tsp. coconut oil (for sautéing)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cup fresh broccoli florets
2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Sea salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
- Bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook pasta al dente.
- Meanwhile, sauté onion in a large skillet over medium heat in the coconut oil. Stir and sauté until onions become translucent, about 5-7 minutes, then add garlic and turn heat to low.
- Stir in vegetable bouillon cube and broccoli, turning the heat back up to medium. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and cooked pasta. Drizzle with olive oil and toss well.
Thank you Sarah for being part of this wonderful event!
Connect with Sarah:
Youtube (check out her awesome videos!)
Visit the Merry-Go-Veggie-Kids Summer 2014 event main page for updates on participating guest bloggers every week until August 2014.
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