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Friday, June 14, 2024

A veggie delight: Helping kids eat their vegetables 

By Jordan Gerard

If kids had a monster that ate their vegetables off their dinner plates, they’d never have to worry about those odd-colored and funny-tasting things again. But they might start feeling a little sluggish and start to understand why eating a colorful plate of food is a healthy choice. 

A new children’s book titled “My Monster Eats My Vegetables” tells them exactly why meals can’t be candy and sweets all the time. For her third book, Arizona author Karlie Burnham combined her love for health and wellness with a passion for writing. It’s illustrated by local artist Andrea Stevenson.  

My Monster Eats My Vegetables” is about a boy named Sterling (Burnham’s second oldest son) who doesn’t like to eat his vegetables or healthy food at dinner time. Along comes a monster named Roger who loves vegetables and colorful foods. Roger and his buddies find kids who don’t eat their vegetables and take care of the “problem” for them. 

vegetables
Courtesy: Karlie Burnham.

Sterling feeds his vegetables to Roger every night, much to his satisfaction. The healthy and colorful vegetables make Roger feel good and he has more energy, while Sterling feels more lazy. He doesn’t have the energy to do everything he wants in a day. He learns the difference between Roger and himself, and follows Roger’s advice on eating healthier. 

The book has been kid-approved by Burnham’s five sons, and many school children that she’s visited. Along with the book, she teaches kids the difference between food from nature versus man-made food, such as the difference between Cheetos and orange bell peppers. 

“Then they get it. They’re just like ‘Oh, that’s from food dye and it’s not natural chemicals that make it this color,” she said. 

Woven into the book are little nuggets of nutrition facts (according to dietary standards) that gently educate kids on healthy food choices. Characters such as a spectacular sweet potato and an amazing avocado teach kids why these foods are a good choice.

“I just have a passion for teaching that to kids and helping them just to see in a simple way … little things that they can do, including choosing colors from nature and learning about the vitamins in them and watching the sugars and things like that,” she said. “Little things can make a difference when they’re young,” 

For older kids, she likes to teach them about reading food labels and demonstrating how much added sugar is actually in the food they consume. They’re always surprised, she said, because they just don’t know how much sugar they’re eating in a day. 

Parents are pleased too. They report to Burnham their kids ask for certain vegetables or fruit that catch their eye and ask to buy them at the grocery store. 

“It’s really provoking action, which makes me so excited because that’s what I wanted,” she said. “When they read, they act, and they see what they want to feel like and what they want to eat.”

Beyond today’s health crises, Burnham said she just wants kids to feel good in their lives so they can do what they’re meant to do. She wants them to have energy and nourishment to get through the day. 

Burnham has experienced low energy and an overall horrible feeling all the time too. She realized she was eating the wrong food and not giving herself the nutrients she needed. It prompted her to earn a degree in health and wellness from Arizona State University. 

“I just want for kids to learn early, so they don’t have to go through those slumps of not feeling food or health problems,” she added. 

She was chatting with a fellow parent in the park while they watched their kids play. He talked about writing books and self-publishing on Amazon. Burnham has always had a passion for reading and writing. Her dad is an English major and she wants that too. She and her husband read to their kids every night. 

The idea for this book had been in the back of her mind for a while. When she heard about self-publishing on Amazon, it was a done deal. With the story pouring onto the page, she wrote the rough draft that night after the park. The draft lives on and she shares it with school kids too. 

Her first book was about bullies and babies and the second talks about the many hats moms wear (published by a local Arizona book company and translated into Spanish). Her fourth book is a Christmas book, which she hopes will be published this year. She also wants to continue her characters from “My Monster Eats My Vegetables.”

“I saw a quote one time that said food can either be the most (slowest) form of poison or the most powerful form of medicine, and I just love that because I really believe that the foods we eat can give us the energy that we need to do great things,” Burnham said. 

vegetables
Karlie Burnham and her five sons hold three of her books. Courtesy: The Burnham Family.

Burnham’s books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Burnham’s website at https://karliescorner.com/. Burnham’s website also offers recipes, blog posts and an interactive nutrition website for kids. She also talks about the importance of family dinner time.

Teachers and readers can reach out to her through her authors group “Loving Literacy Authors” at info@lovingliteracyauthors.com and follow her on Instagram @karlieburnhambooks. 

Read more Health and Wellness articles from Green Living Magazine.

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