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Teaching kids to eat vegetables: involve book characters (giveaway)

I am constantly looking for creative ways to inspire (make, convince, encourage) kids eat healthy. Now I do that with the help of a book featuring vegetable super hero characters (Super Sprowtz). Each vegetable character has a special power based on the nutritional benefits of each vegetable. For example, Brian Broccoli is super strong because broccoli has calcium, which builds strong bones.  Super Sprowtz give moms an easy and effective way to teach their kids to enjoy eating vegetables.

The Super Sprowtz Board Book teaches little kids to recognize vegetables. It also teaches about the benefits of each vegetable in a captivating and engaging way.

The Super Sprowtz Origins will reveal who the Super Sprowtz are. Moreover, you can find a recipe of a veggie pizza. Plus, the book contain a glossary with photographs of vegetables and an explanation of each veggie and their nutritional content.

You can see the full list Super Sprowtz books here.

My kids keep asking me to reread the books. They learned about super powers of each vegetable and talk about the powers of every vegetable when those are served. As we go through the board book, they also like to think who in the family loves a certain vegetable the most. Grandpa loves garlic most of all, they tell me. My aunt loves peas, reminds me my 4-year-old.

She forgot to mention that Lana loves peas too. Except, she likes to play with them, but not necessarily eat them. We are engaging Suzy Sweetpea to help us with the eating part.

Radha Agrawal founded Super Sprowtz company – with fun and engaging veggie superhero characters – because Radha passionately believes moms need better tools to help their young children build honest and healthy relationships with healthy food.

Radha  is an organic restaurateur in New York City, film and TV producer for 10 years, and lifelong food enthusiast.

In an exclusive interview for MY Busy Children, Radha shares her passion about teaching  kids to eat healthy:

Why did you decide to create Super Sprowtz? What inspired you?

Super Sprowtz was inspired out of a menu I designed for my organic pizzeria, Slice, that my twin sister Miki and I own. We had so many kids coming in and asking questions about our different veggie toppings so I created a menu with vegetable characters to ‘veg-ucate’ them in a fun way! I started doing some research on what was out there for kids to learn about veggies and nutrition and realized there really wasn’t anything that was fun and engaging for kids that wasn’t preachy or boring or set on a farm or suburb where a city kid wouldn’t be able to relate to it. So I starting writing my own stories about super powered vegetable characters set in New York whose super powers were directly related to the nutritional benefit of the vegetable so kids would remember why each vegetable was good for them.  I interviewed nutritionists, dieticians, child psychiatrists, primary school educators, and lots of frustrated parents and curious kids before I wrote the stories.

As a filmmaker and producer for 8 years, and as a restaurateur and fitness instructor, I wanted to combine food, wellness and film to excite and motivate the next generation to treat their bodies right! My goal from the beginning has been to do for nutrition what Sesame Street did for literacy and do it effectively and in an entertaining way.

We’re working on many different programs from spring and summer camps with yoga/cooking/exercise and science days with the Super Sprowtz, school assemblies, TV show pitches and other fun stuff! So we’ll have lots of different outlets to engage kids about vegetables and healthy living!

Why do you think some kids are so reluctant to eat vegetables? Why do some kids refuse even to try new vegetables?

I think we often make it an unfair battle between vegetables and other foods.  Many times the vegetables stand alone on the plate, when they may be more tempting mixed with other foods and nicely seasoned.  Vegetables are more enticing if presented in fun ways or if the child participates in cooking them and then takes ownership of the recipe.  It is natural for us to be afraid of new things and in many cases can be beneficial (never pick your own mushrooms or eat unrecognizable berries while in the woods).  It is important to get kids to be familiar with their veggies.  So we encourage that you let them play with their vegetables, help pick them in the grocery store, grow something with you and take ownership of veggie heavy recipes in the kitchen.  Also, children learn what foods are good and trustworthy by observing others.  If the message they get from others is that veggies are gross, they won’t want them!  And if eating vegetables is presented as a chore, they won’t want them!  But if they get to know our Super Sprowtz and want to have the powers the vegetables offer, magic can happen!

We love Super Sprowtz heroes. I am just not sure how to create association for my kids between Erica Eggplant and eggplant in my Ratatouille (which my kids refuse to eat). What do you recommend?

Involve your kids in the process of picking out the eggplants and helping cooking them.  You can read the book together, watch a video and then make it a family event to cook together.  Kids love to feel like they are the chef and they are in control of the kitchen.  You can have your kids rename your ratatouille Erica’s Super Smart Stew or something similar.  We are coming out with a new app for your phone that can take a picture of a vegetable and add facial features so your kid can create his own Super Hero.

My 2- and 4-year-old girls like to mix ingredients in a bowl and peel eggs. What would be other age appropriate activities for a one –year old, a two-year old, a three year old, and a four year old to help with food preparation?

A one year old could hold and learn to identify each whole vegetable before you cut it up, as long as the vegetable is not small enough to be a choking hazard.

For two and three year olds you can ask them to hand you the vegetable you need to add next and ask them to stir or test taste for you.  (Test tasting is a great way to involve your child and get them ready and excited for meal time)

A four year old may be able to add the teaspoon of seasoning or liquid as the recipe requires.  Older kids can help cut the softer vegetables with a dull knife or stir the pot.

Sometimes busy parents have to resort to packaged or processed foods.  What food additives are an absolute “no no” for kids? I wrote a list of foods and ingredients we buy and avoid in this article. What would you add to the list or take out?

Your list looks wonderfully comprehensive!  I think it is very helpful to know where to look for these food additives and which ones are the worst (like you said about MSG in spices or which fruits have the most pesticides).  Another example is how nitrates/nitrites turn into nitrosamine (a carcinogen) when exposed to heat.  They are found in red meats and especially harmful if in bacon because it is cooked at a higher temperature than most meats.

What is you opinion on canned vegetables? Do you think benefits of eating vegetables outweigh potential harm of BPA in the lining of the cans?

Instead of canned vegetables, stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables for when you run out of fresh and can’t get to the store.  These vegetables are frozen at the time of their natural ripening, which can result in higher nutrient content than “fresh” fruits and veggies that are kept for long periods of time past their harvest and artificially ripened during the off season.  Frozen veggies also taste and look a lot better than the dull, floppy and water logged vegetables from a can.

We all try to feed kids healthy meals at home. However, a lot of young children spend most of their days in childcare centers. What is you opinion about meals served in daycare centers?

Know what foods are being served in your child’s daycare or school and get involved.  This is a time of school lunch reformation, so take a stand along with Michelle Obama!  If the food still doesn’t meet your child’s needs then send her in with a packed lunch.  To save time you can pack all the lunches for the week on Sunday night and keep them refrigerated and ready to go for your busy mornings.

What services/activities do you offer for kids and parents on your website for free?

We have a ton of fun games, music videos and even cooking shows all with our favorite Super Sprowtz puppets.  Parents can watch videos of tips for picky eaters by a child psychiatrist, read blog entries of parents with first hand “veg-ucation” experience, and see art work kids in the Super Sprowtz community have made.  You can also sign up for our “Daily Sprowt: a little something to chew on” Newsletter to receive recipes, nutrition info, music and more from the Super Sprowtz themselves!  Check it out here: http://www.supersprowtz.com/blog

What products are available for purchase?

We have four books available in 16 stores and online at http://www.supersprowtz.com/shop .  We are also available on Amazon.com.  They include The Super Sprowtz Origins; I am Brian Broccoli and I am Super Strong; I am Erica Eggplant and I am Super Smart; and The Super Sprowtz Baby Board Book.  We also have an amazing iPhone App (available on iTunes), beautiful shirts and cuddly plush toys coming very soon.  Keep an eye out!

Are you planning to have a Super Sprowtz show on TV as well?

Yes!  We are working toward that end right now.  We’re super excited!  In the mean time, check out our music videos on supersprowtz.com, vimeo and youtube!

 The Giveaway:

Super Sprowtz is generously giving away one Super Sprowtz book of the winner’s choice. There are 4 books to choose from.  

This giveaway is open to U.S. addresses only.

To participate in the giveaway, you could do any or all of the following:

  1. Leave a comment  – What advice from Radha would you adapt at home? (1 entry)
  2. Join Super Sprowtz on Facebook . Leave a comment here with your Facebook name. (1 entry)
  3. Follow Super Sprowtz on Twitter Leave a comment with your Twitter name. (1 entry)
  4. Subscribe to Super Sprowtz by email on supersprowtz.com – top of the screen. Leave a comment here. (1 entry)
  5. Leave a comment on any of my posts. Leave a comment here with a post name. (1 entry)
  6. Like me on Facebook. Leave a comment here with your Facebook name.  (1 entry)
  7. Join me on Google Friend Connect (left sidebar). Leave a comment here (1 entry)
  8. Follow me on Networked Blogs. Leave a comment here that you follow (1 entry)
  9. Blog about this giveaway. Leave one comment with a link to your post. (2 entries)
  10. Follow me on Twitter. Leave a comment with your Twitter name (1 entry)
  11. Submit this giveaway to any sweepstakes site or giveaway Linky. Leave one comment with a link each time you submit. (1 entry per submission/link)
  12. Tweet about this giveaway.  #win @SuperSprowtz nutrition education book; enter #Giveaway @MyBusyChildren  http://bit.ly/hhvp6h  Leave a comment here with your Twitter name. (1 entry per day)
  13. Subscribe to My Busy Children by email here or via Feedburner. Or subscribe to the RSS feed. Leave a comment indicating how you subscribed (1 entry)

This Giveaway ends on March 18, 11:59pm EST, 2011. The winner will be chosen randomly. I will email the winner, who will have 72 hours to contact me or a new winner will be chosen.

This giveaway is closed.

The winner is #61  Tori  – Tori says: I am a gfc follower 

Review/giveaway disclaimer: I received no monetary compensation for this review/giveaway. I received Super Sprowtz books to review the products. The opinions are entirely my own. This post includes affiliate links.

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