By MARK KENNEDY – AP Entertainment Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Camila Alves McConaughey has co-authored a new children’s book about a group of picky eaters. Only in this case, picky eaters are not children.
“Just Try One Bite” (Penguin Random House) follows three kids as they try to get their parents to drop ice cream, cake, and chicken fried steak and embrace healthy, whole foods. In fact, all kids want is for adults to take a single bite of something healthy.
“It’s not about the preaching being perfect. I know I am not. I know my home is not. We still have a long way to go,” says the model and entrepreneur. “It’s about making small changes.”
The rhyme book – co-written with Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Mike Boldt – features well-meaning kids confronting their junk-food-loving parents (who look a bit like Alves and her husband, actor Matthew McConaughey) to give them a chance. with kale, a role reversal with a lot of humour.
“Oh daddy, oh mommy, please be open-minded. You can’t say kale is gross if you don’t even try it,” they plead in the book. well balanced really should be more than fries you found in your car on the floor.”
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A breakthrough occurs when the parents finally eat cauliflower – and love it. This opens the door to yams, clam linguini and, as a reward, donut holes. Yes, sweets are allowed, in moderation.
“One of the most important conversations to have about doing better for yourself is early on,” says Alves from her home in Texas. “If you start giving kids the understanding and the knowledge, all of a sudden you start to see them feeling empowered and making better decisions on their own.”
Alves – mother of Levi, 13, Vida, 12, and Livingston, 9 – is candid about the challenges parents face with picky eaters, noting that siblings go through different stages at different times. Recently, her youngest was only eating beans, which prompted her to call the doctor.
Boldt filled the book with big moves and expressive faces, saying it paid homage to Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat,” who also has children who take charge and create a bit of chaos. “It’s much easier to draw something when the words are incredibly descriptive and visual, because it fuels your imagination,” he says.
He also has three children but luckily they are not that picky. “They actually like a lot of vegetables and foods that I wasn’t sure they were going to eat,” he laughs. “Things I didn’t like when I was a kid.”
Alves has advice for parents of picky eaters beyond the classic of making plates more fun by arranging food into faces. One of the ways she keeps the household happy is by sticking to good food rules all week and then having a free-for-all Friday when everyone can eat whatever they want.
She also approves of letting each child choose a “vegetable to throw up” — something they can ignore as long as they try all the others. (Her throw-up vegetable would be okra, a slimy enemy for life, she says.) Another tip: Encourage kids to help cook in the kitchen to learn more about the ingredients.
“My daughter was like, ‘I really don’t like onions.’ And then once I have her cook this meat sauce with me, she’ll be like, “Oh, I can’t eat that.” You put onions on it. I will say, ‘I put onions on it every time I cook it.’
Alves, born in Brazil, grew up on a farm and moved to Los Angeles as a teenager. “The relationship with food and its origin – from seed to table – was very vivid for me growing up,” she says.
She tries to replicate what she grew up with by adding lots of color to her plates: beets, beans, hearts of palm, tomatoes, roots and legumes. She simply prepares them, places them in the middle of the table, and lets her children and mother-in-law graze.
While she was growing up, her family never talked about sugar moderation, something she still struggles with. Her husband’s family talked about it and she says he has a healthier relationship with sweets and desserts.
Alves advocates making small changes and embracing the notion that no one is perfect. She admits her kids stopped her on her chocolate addiction, and she’s moving towards less sweet and darker versions. “No matter what stage you are in, there is always room to do a little better.”
Marc Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits
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