Tag Archives: parents and kids

BookS on MondaY: Certified health coach and plant-based chef Vicky Marquez talks about her newest book for kids, THE ROOTLETS, how eating healthy begins in childhood, kid-pleasing recipes, & more

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By Leslie Lindsay 

As a vegetarian momma, I’ve always found it a fun challenge to raise healthy, independent food-conscious kiddos. When they were babies, my husband and I often got the question, “Are you going to raise your children as vegetarians?” Sometimes it came across as simple curiosity, other times, it felt judgmental. My response was always something along the lines of, “We’re providing a balanced diet with plenty of protein, fruits, and veggies, though I will not be handling raw meat at home.” That said, I was totally fine if my kids wanted to order chicken fingers at a restaurant, or have a bite of grandma and grandpa’s steak. Trouble-at-Plantasy-Land-.png
Food choices, we determined, were to be determined by the person eating them, what he or she felt comfortable with. In no way did my husband and I try to “force” a plant-based diet on our kiddos, but now, at nearly ten years old, our youngest almost exclusively rejects meat, all her choice. The oldest seems to think chocolate is its own food group!
When I came across THE ROOTLETS series of children’s books, about cute little veggies who have myriad adventures, I knew I had to check it out! 
Join me as I chat with nutritionist and plant-based chef Vicki Marquez, on her darling, children’s books about healthy eating. 
Leslie Lindsay: Welcome, Vicki. I’m always curious about what sparks an idea for a story. What inspired you to create the ROOTLETS series?
Vicki Marquez: The idea of THE ROOTLETS popped into my head one day as I was thinking about how I could help inspire kids to want to–and to be excited to–eat their veggies and make good, healthy choices. That thought lit a fire inside of me and I immediately knew that these characters were something special that’s what inspired me to take action, create this series, build this brand and bring these characters to life.
L.L.: How would you describe the dynamic between THE ROOTLETS—Brocc, Carrotina, Cornelius and Kaley?
Vicki Marquez: THE ROOTLETS are best friends, with a special bond and a lot of trust between them. They count on (and value) each others’unique set of talents and strengths, and they operate like a little team…always rooting for and looking out for one another, no matter what kind of trouble their next adventure brings!
L.L.: How did you decide what traits the Rootlets would possess?
Vicki Marquez: It wasn’t actually a conscious decision–they each began taking on certain characteristics with that initial vision I had of them. Right away it was clear who they were and what was important to each one of them. Brocc was smart and into studying, Cornelius was the jokester who loved to have fun. Kaley was a fancy girly-girl and Carrotina was a brave adventure-seeker. It felt like I knew them. A few months after I wrote the first book (Super Rootabilities), my husband said to me that each Rootlet reminded him of me, like they were me–at the core–divided into four. And in retrospect, I can totally see that…
everything that The Rootlets love, I love. So, I guess that maybe I subconsciously selected their traits based on those things…and that each one actually represents a little part of me.
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L.L.: I have a couple of little redheads–carrot tops, much like Carrotina–so I have to ask about one of the most distinct aspects of THE ROOTLETS—their vegetable hair. What inspired that idea?
Vicki Marquez: When I first transitioned to a plant-based diet, my best friend kept calling me her “veggie head.”That nickname was running through my brain when I first had the idea of THE ROOTLETS. I envisioned these adorable kids with big, veggie hairdos:a broccoli
afro, carrot pigtails, blonde kernels, leafy green locks…it was how I saw them, and it was absolutely perfect.

“where super-powered adventures and veggies collide!”

L.L.:  The Rootlets features bright and brilliant illustrations. Did the characters look the way you envisioned while writing the book?
Vicki Marquez: [My illustrator] Jeremy and I actually developed the characters long before I wrote the first story, so I was lucky to have a very clear visual reference of these kids as I
was developing the series. But I will say that when Jeremy sent me those very first
sketches of THE ROOTLETS, he 1000% captured on paper what these characters looked like in my head.
L.L.: Since you are an expert in health and nutrition with years of experience, what types of research did you do to write THE ROOTLETS?
Vicki Marquez: THE ROOTLETS series is all about the evolution of these four young kids who learn that they’re superheroes and who now have to navigate the huge responsibilities that come along with that, so all of my research was focused around character and story development, as well as general writing tips and guidelines for kids literature.
The health and nutrition aspects of this series are indirect and expressed creatively, so that requires a lot less research, and a lot more imagination.
L.L.: In THE ROOTLETS, adventurous kids who love to play and a healthy lifestyle go hand-in-hand. Was that connection intentional?
Vicki Marquez: Yes, it was intentional, but also very obvious. The Rootlets are relatable role models who love to play, explore and go on little adventures, just like most kids–and those
are all really great health-promoting activities to encourage.
L.L.: What is the key to inspiring kids to make healthier choices?
Vicki Marquez: There are two keys: fun and familiarity! Fun is the easy one…kids seek it, love it,have to have it…and they’re motivated by it! So, when veggies and fruits are presented in a fun, exciting way, kids are much more interested in them.Familiarity is the other key. Most kids (and adults) prefer to try (and buy) things that they’re familiar with. The Rootlets series introduces and popularizes healthy, plant-based foods, so that when kids see them in the grocery store or at the farmers market,they’re much more curious and excited to try super-rootabilities-coverthem.
L.L.: Why is reaching and educating kids about healthy choices in elementary school so important for lifelong health?
Vicki Marquez: Because so many of the habits that we have as adults stem from the habits that we developed when we were little. Good habits, like brushing our teeth, are gems that’ll
serve us well our whole lives, but bad habits–especially unhealthy eating habits–are
really hard to break and can lead to serious chronic disease and illness. Teaching kids,
from an early age, about the superpowers of veggies and the importance of making good nutritional choices, establishes the foundation for them to build strong, healthy habits that will stay with them as they grow up.
L.L.: What would you consider to be the biggest challenge to raising healthy kids today?
Vicki Marquez: Time…for sure! Parents are SO busy these days that finding the time to meal plan, shop and cook can be a real challenge. That’s why I’m really excited that our Rootlets blog now features quick and healthy kid-friendly recipes that parents can easily whip up and feel really good about sharing with their little ones.
L.L.: You are a certified plant-based chef. What are some of your most popular dishes among kids?
Vicki Marquez: Ooh, there are so many good ones, but I’d have to say that the most popular dishes are the ones that kids can customize on their own or help make. For example: power
bowls (where you start with a grain and then add your favorite toppings and sauces) tacos, wraps, homemade pizzas, smoothies…all of those are always kid-pleasers! And anything with cacao or chocolate, of course!
L.L.: You also host a healthy living cable TV show,“Nourished.”How does the process of preparing for the show compare to writing THE ROOTLETS? 
Vicki Marquez: Every episode of “Nourished” and each ROOTLETS story is part of a larger overarching series, so while each one has to independently stand alone, they also have to be Nourished.pngable to work well within that series. As for the actual prep process,it’s basically the same. I begin with an outline, then I put on my creativity cap and continue to write and expand on
the story or episode. I edit, get my team involved, consider visuals, edit some
more until I have a concrete finished product…then it’s production time!
L.L.: When did your interest in nutrition and healthy food begin? Which authors inspired you as a child?
Vicki Marquez: In my mid-20s, I started paying close attention to what I was eating and how it was affecting me. I cut back on the highly processed junk food that I had been
accustomed to eating my entire life, and I began eating real, whole, natural foods. Becoming aware of that food/body connection, and how my diet had been directly impacting my overall health, was a huge a-ha moment for me! Once I saw (and felt) the correlation between eating well and feeling good, my interest in health and nutrition grew naturally. As a kid, I loved Valerie Tripp, Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, Peggy Parish and of course, Dr. Seuss.
L.L.: The Rootlets are superheroes with special powers, which contribute to their big adventures. Which superpower would you choose to possess?
Vicki Marquez: Ooh, good question! I’d LOVE some sort of healing touch
power. To be able to free people and animals from pain, sickness and illness…that would be the greatest!
L.L.:What other projects are you currently working on?
Vicki Marquez:Right now I’m devoting the majority of my time to THE ROOTLETS, writing book three, developing our app, attending school events and marketing the brand–
and when I’m not working on that, I’m writing, creating content and testing recipes for
“Nourished” and coaching my private and corporate clients.
  • Hashtag #TheRootlets

  • Facebook: The Rootlets

  • Twitter: @Therootlets

  • Website
  • To purchase THE ROOTLETS, click here

download-16ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vicki Marquez is a certified health coach, plant-based chef, author and TV personality whose passion for living a healthy, vibrant life has become her mission to help others do the same. After earning her degree in nutrition and health science, Vicki continued her wellness education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where she studied over 100 dietary theories with the world’s leading nutrition and holistic health experts. Vicki went on to receive her culinary education and training at Rouxbe Cooking School where she earned her plant-based chef certification. In 2013, Vicki launched Inner Figure – her health coaching practice that offers one-on-one lifestyle coaching, robust corporate wellness programs and a monthly plant-based cooking club all built around her philosophy to “live healthy from the inside out.” As Inner Figure’s client base grew, so did Vicki’s desire to help inspire and empower children to make healthier choices. From this inspiration, The Rootlets were born: four veggie-haired, cartoon superheroes on a quest to promote good nutrition by making veggies fun and exciting. Vicki launched The Rootlets, LLC, and authored the first book in her series, The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities, in October 2014. In 2016, Vicki branched into television as the creator and host of the healthy living cable show, Nourished. The program blends wellness how-to tips and delicious veggie-centric recipes into a series that’s structured much like her one-on-one coaching sessions. Through her private health coaching practice, children’s brand and TV show, Vicki aims to make healthy eating and living easy, accessible and entertaining for everyone. Vicki is a founding member of The New Self-Health Movement; a member of the International Association for Health Coaches and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators; and is board certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Vicki lives in Chicago with her husband, stepdaughter and two Yorkies. When she’s not writing, coaching or cooking, you can find her on the yoga mat, traveling the world or snuggled on the sofa with her pups and a great book.

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You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay at:

[Special thanks to PRbytheBook. All images retrieved from the author’s website on 10.15.16]

The Teacher is Talking: The Whole-Brain Child Continues

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By Leslie Lindsay

Product Details (image retrieved from Amazon.com on 9.4.12) 

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson (Sep 11, 2012)

We have been discussing the book, THE WHOLE-BRAIN CHILD by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.  The premise:  if you “speak” to both sides of your child’s brain (right=emiotion-driven and left=logic-driven) through 12 strategies, then you may have a better chance at picking your battles, helping your child, or problem-solve.  And who wouldn’t like to get better at those things?  Last week, we focused on strategies 1-6, today we’ll tackle the final 7-12 strategies.  Here goes:

  • Strategy #7:  Remember to Remember–Making Recollection a Part of Your Family’s Daily Life.  For some, remembering things is well…a no brainer.  For others, it’s a little more challenging.  It’s an exercise, if you will–the more you work it, the better your memory.  Give your children practice with remembering things.  Telling and retelling a story works, so does remembering a list of letters or numbers (+/- 5 items).  This all helps create memory for experiences; important for later problem-solving skills and developing friendships/relationships.  Try it at home:  Instead of saying, “How was your day?”  Ask something more active, “What was the best part of your day?”  Or, “Who did you eat lunch with?”

 

  • Strategy #8:  Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll By–Teaching that Feelings Come and Go.  Important, yes that kids learn to identify their feelings, but just as important is that kids learn that feelings are fleeting.  That’s right–they come and go.   On average, an emotion comes and goes in 90-seconds.  Try it at home: Instead of labeling oneself forever, try this, “I’m not dumb, I just feel dumb right now.” 

 

  • Strategy #9:  SIFT–Paying Attention to What’s Going on Inside.  Kids need to be aware of what they are actually feeling inside.  Yep–all of those emotions, desires, ideas whirling around need to be acknowledged.  Enter SIFT:  Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts.  Try it at home:  if your child is feeling out-of-sorts about something, help her identify it by talking about SIFT.  “It must be scary having pictures of that monster in your head.  You know what you can do?  You can change the picture!”  And then talk about how the monster may not be scary after all…maybe even funny?  (see earlier post on Marlow and the Monster

 

  • Strategy #10:  Exercise Mindsight–Getting Back to the Hub.  Sometimes kids can get fixated on one set of problems–their “points of awareness.”  Help them re-set.  This doesn’t come naturally to children, but they can be taught to develop coping skills and strategies to get “back to the hub.”  Try it at home:  When my daughter, Kelly was anxious about kindergarten (see previous post), I tried to ease her anxiety by  talking with her at bedtime.  She was tucked in, comfy and cozy.  The lights were dim.  Her special bedtime music was playing.  I spoke to her in a soothing voice, assuring her that she is a “sunshine girl who can do anything.”  Next, I had her relax every part of her body starting with her head and working all the way down to her toes.  Add something silly like “relax your earlobes,” and you’re sure to get a  giggle. 

 

  • Strategy #11:  Increase the Family Fun Factor–Making a Point to Enjoy Eachother.  Most of us feel as if we just cart kids around or discipline them…but what about just having fun?!  It’s easy to forget how to have fun as a family.  But it’s an important part to learning to connect with others.  Take interest in your kids’ interests, play games, tell jokes…Try it at home:  we recently had a “fun” weekend.  Sure, we still did laundry and grocery shopping, but we also went to a giant trampoline place, took a hike, and went Go-Karting.  Can you tie in some fun, too?
  • Strategy #12: Connection Through Conflict–Teach Kids to Argue with a “We” in Mind. Each new arguement is just a way for us to survive. Belive it or not, there’s almost always a lesson there. But, you’ve had it with mediating those diagreements. Teach your child to see through the other person’s eyes (recognize other points of view) and how to read boyd language. It’s tough to do in the middle of a heated arguement. Try it at home: Have your child watch the other one recreate the tower of Legos or the art project he just smashed. How do you think your sibling feels having to do all of that work again?

This concludes our series in “The Teacher is Talking.”  If you liked what you learned here, consider reading the whole book (sorry, couldn’t resist)!  I merely high-lighted some snippets here, but there is soo much more in the book itself, including some really clever comic-strip-like diagrams.  At just 168 pages, it’s not a big, overwhelming book, either. 

This is a personal book that belongs to our family.  No form of compensation was given for writing about THE WHOLE BRAIN CHILD (Delacorte Press, 2011).

Apraxia Monday: Preparing Yourself for School

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By Leslie Lindsay

Welcome Back to School

Sending your child back to school–or just sending her there for the first time–is nerve-wrecking.  Will she be okay?  Will she be able to verbalize her thoughts?  Answer the teacher?  Get her basic needs met?  Deep breath.  I know you have concerns.  I have been there myself. 

The best thing you can do as a parent is present a happy, carefree approach to school. Kids pick up on stress and anxiety like ants on a crumb at a picnic…if they feel your anxiety, they will carry it away, too.  Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t worry, or you shouldn’t have questions…you do and that’s a good thing.  Writing down a list of your concerns can help, as does talking them over with your spouse/partner, your child’s teacher, a trusted friend, even your child’s SLP may have some insight.  

Worry about the things you can control.  I have been known to worry about things waaay out of my control, like how is she going to get from the bus to her classroom?  But the thing is, I am not there when that happens.  I don’t have to be.  There is a trained and (hopefully) compassionate bus driver behind the wheel and school staff  educated to ease the transition.  It’s what they do for a living.  Plus, you’ve taught your child all of the proper things about safety, strangers, and the like.  She will do just fine.  And really, what good is worrying about it if you can’t change it? 

It may help to make a list of all of the things your child has learned to do independently.  Kids are pretty darn amazing and resilient creatures–going to school is just another event.  And it’s completely “normal” to feel a little sad that your little one is growing up.  Hey–I’m feeling it, too as my youngest heads off to kindergarten Wednesday.  It’s never easy saying good-bye to an end of an era.

On the other hand, you may be thrilled.  And that’s okay, too.  While you may really be looking forward to the day your child is in school, you may not be ready to deal with the quiet lull that resides in your life after the last lunch bag is backed.  Make sure you have something fun to do planned for that first day back.  Maybe it’s a matinee with a mom friend, or a round of golf?  Perhaps you have plans to meet up with someone for coffee, or a trip to your favorite store.  Just do something–something for you! 

To learn more about apraxia, please look to the first-ever comprehensive book for parents on the subject, SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012)

Be sure to check out these recent REVIEWS of the book on various blogs and websites: 

 

The Teacher is Talking: But Mom’s a Yeller!!

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By Leslie Lindsay

Welcome to a new “column” of Practical Parenting with a Twist…”The Teacher is Talking.”  Here I hope to share with you some tips on helping your kiddos at home and school…bridging that connection for better, more rounded students.  You’ll find ideas here for how to help your child read smarter, how to talk with  teachers at parent-teacher conferences, the “new math,” (it’s always new to me!!) and more.

Today, I would like to kick off the new column with a guest blog post from NannyJobs.org (www.nannyjobs.org).  The article, “Ten Tips for Nannies When Mom is a Yeller,” may speak to you http://www.nannyjobs.org/blog/10-tips-for-nannies-when-the-mom-is-a-yeller/.  While this particular article is geared towards nannies, you may still benefit…after all, how many of us parents have yelled at our kids?  I know I am guilty.  Plus, you may indeed have a nanny who could glean a little something from this.

Finally, when we yell at our kids, we are setting a negative example of behavior.  We don’t want our kiddos to think it’s okay to yell when they get frustrated.  Take my ironic example here:

My 6+ year old daughter got mad about something and stomped up the stairs, slamming the door behind her.  I stood at the base of the stairs and hollered, “Hey!  We don’t slam doors in this house, okay?!?”  Hummm…that was totally and completely counterproductive!

We all get frustrated and we all react inappropriately at times…what can you do to turn that around? 

 

In My Brain Today: I hate the morning routine

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By Leslie Lindsay

Like most harried parents, I hate the morning routine.  I didn’t think I would be in that group.  I used to think, “Oh, what’s the big deal?  Plan ahead, manage your kids, stay organized…how hard can it be, really?”  But that was B.K.  (“before kids”).  And now…well, let’s just say, “Me no like.”

Here’s how it works at our house:  I hear my darling cherubs wake at the butt-crack-of-dawn (well, usually it’s Kid #1 who has ADHD and apraxia).  She heads downstairs for her early-morning cartoon time, yogurt, and general goof-off time.  Stools scoot across the kitchen floor with a lovely schreech and clunk (looking for any peanut butter cups or Oreos she can get her hands on).  Awhile later, Kid #2 rolls out of bed and takes care of her Pull-Up situation (she’s the resposible one) and is completely mouse-like in her movements.

I lay in bed thinking, “Oh man…here we go.  Another day in paradise.”  Meanwhile, I am hoping that the girls remembered the talk we had last night–the talk we have nearly every night: “Put your clothes on right away.”  (We set them out the night before).  “Only yogurt if you must have a pre-breakfast snack…”  …”No eating in the family room.  You can see the television from the kitchen table.”  “When mommy gets to the kitchen, it’s all about business.  No more goofing around.  It’s time to get ready for school.”  They nod and smile like they know what I am talking about.  But they don’t.

Every morning, it’s the same:  toys are strewen about the family room, at least 2 empty yogurt containers litter the coffee table (so much for just eating at the kitchen table), Oreo crumbs are found on the counter top, Cartoon Network is blaring (not the PBSKids I strongly encourage), and my children are NOT dressed, “We forgot, mommy.”  Ugh.  I hate the morning routine.

So, I fake a smile and nuzzle my kids in a hug.  Then I give them “the look,” and suggest mega clean-up while I start breakfast.  Only they don’t.  They just look at me like I have three heads.

I run about the kitchen preparing three different breakfasts, despite my effort to make it uniform.  Kid #1 only wants pancakes with chocolate chips and lots of butter.  Kid #2 only wants to eat waffles.  I don’t really care what I eat, I just want to set an example that mommies eat breakfast, too.  I make a conscious effort to sit down with them and do a mini “circle time,”–the day of the week, the date, and the upcoming events of the day…but they don’t care because they are complaining about the breakfast I prepared (not enough chocolate chips), or watching some junky cartoon.  Or just sitting there staring off into space.

This morning, I flipped off the TV.  “I’m sick of this!  Pay attention.  Breakfast is for eating.   Eat!”  Then I run to find the vitamins and Juice Plus+ and most definitetly the ADHD medication.  Yes, the ADHD medicine!

But the kids are still not dressed.  Two lunches still to pack.  “Go upstairs and get naked!”  I bark to Kid #1.  I pack two healthy lunches with notes and stickers.  I shove them in backpacks (because who knows if they will).  When I get upstairs, she’s still not naked.  She blames it on her little sister.  Eye roll.

I have to physically dress my 6-year old because she hops from thing to thing in her room–naked.  Meanwhile, I am breaking out into a sweat and watching the clock.  Kid #2 is nearly dressed–all on her own.  She just needs help with a snap.

“Mom!  Mom!  Mom!  Look at this!  I can stand on my head.”  Great.  And I can juggle two kids and get out the door.  Maybe.  It’s all the same.  It’s a physical feat. I hate the morning routine. 

And that is what is in my brain today, September 15th 2011.