Raw Food Magazine Featuring: Sarah Creighton
Grove: Well, hello. This morning we are here with Sarah Creighton of Veggie Kids, and we’re so excited to have you here. Thanks for being with us today.
Creighton: Thanks so much for having me.
Grove: We are going to take a look – Sarah is not only a mom of three and a vegetarian and vegan culinarian, but she also founded the blog and the brand Veggie Kids and is the author of a children’s book called The Boy Who Loved Broccoli. In addition to that, she just recently released an eBook that’s a two-week recipe ideas meal plans for a plant-based diet to kickstart and help you transition to a more plant-based way of eating. It’s a precursor to a full-length cookbook that will be coming out. When might that be coming out? Later this year?
Creighton: Yeah, I’m hoping this summer, actually. It’s taking a lot longer than I thought, but… [laughs]
Grove: Projects tend to do that.
Creighton: Yeah, they do.
Grove: Well, Sarah, I’m excited to get to talk to you and dive in. This is such a huge topic, especially for our readers, many of whom are moms and have kids at home. But before we jump into your family, tell us a little bit about you, what you do, your journey towards health.
Creighton: I’m totally obsessed with nutrition and feeding kids and families healthy foods. I guess it all came from my own discovery that the body is self-healing and that we have this ability to heal ourselves. Back in 2008, I discovered that I had a large cyst in my ovaries, and the doctors immediately wanted to do surgery, and I just knew that was not an option for me. So I just delved into nutrition and plant-based diet and how to heal yourself and holistic methods and such. Within two weeks, I completely healed myself; there was no sign of the cyst at all, and the doctors were amazed.
That’s when I learned about the body’s natural ability to heal, and I was completely sold. I just could not get enough information on veganism and just how our pH levels in our body really matter because that affects if diseases can grow and such. So I feel like the more you know, the further you can go. It just kind of took off from there, and I started Veggie Kids as a blog to keep track of what I was fixing for my family because it was all new to me. It was sort of like a diary, and then it just took off from there.
Grove: What kind of regimen were you on, what were your eating habits during the weeks that you were able to heal from your cyst?
Creighton: I wasn’t really a big meat-eater, but I realized that I was probably having too much dairy. I was a cheese lover, and I think it just threw my body out of whack. So I upped the greens, I made sure to get a green smoothie in at least twice a day, dark, leafy green salads, and then I’d also make tonics. I’d read about different tonics that you could create with little tinctures and stuff, and it’s just amazing how quickly the results came. I couldn’t believe it.
Grove: What’s your favorite tonic?
Creighton: You know, I haven’t made one in awhile, which is so funny. One thing I discovered though, is that we have these trees in our yard, loquat. A lot of people aren’t familiar with it, but in the Asian cultures, they are. It’s incredible, the healing qualities of not just the fruit, but the leaves. So I’ve been making a tea with the leaves of the loquat, and it’s so beneficial to the body, so I make my whole family drink it. I sneak them in smoothies and stuff.
Grove: At this point in your life, were you already with your husband? Did you have any kids at this point?
Creighton: Yeah, I was with my husband and we had two kids at that point. I have a brother who was vegan for a long time and highly raw, and now he’s completely raw and so healthy. So he was kind of always in the back of my head. I knew some things, but I wasn’t quite ready. That situation with the cyst definitely kickstarted it for me, and my husband’s getting onboard. He’s not as far along as I am, but he’s getting there.
Grove: Yeah, everyone has their own journey that they need to go on. But while you were changing your eating habits so dramatically during this time, did that have an effect on your family? Did any of your kids or your husband become more interested in health?
Creighton: Absolutely, especially my kids. One thing that I don’t know if a lot of moms and parents realize is that our kids are watching every move we make, so if we eat junky, processed foods, they’ll ask for that. They’ll mimic it, they’ll taste it. But when us as moms make the decision to eat healthier, make healthier choices, the kids just follow suit so quickly. Since in our home, I’m the one that’s in charge of making meals and stuff, it was really easy to get my kids onboard.
My husband, I totally respect his opinion. He’s definitely not ready to go to a fully plant-based diet, but he’s come onboard with the green smoothies and having a big green salad for lunch and stuff. It’s the small changes that make a big difference over time.
Grove: Absolutely. Sure do. Green smoothies are some of my favorite. Then in your beliefs, your experience, it seems like the age-old battle of kids versus vegetables. How to get your kids to eat vegetables. For your kids, in your experience, did they, even as very young, did they hate vegetables?
Creighton: No, they didn’t, but I always gave them vegetables. I think that’s another key, is the sooner you allow your kids to taste the different flavors and the textures of vegetables, the better off you are. Another thing is to just keep offering it to them. Vegetables were always a big part of our diet, and I just incorporated it more and more over time. So it never really was an issue with them. Maybe they’d turn it down once in awhile, but I just kept offering it. And it paid off.
Grove: What about your husband? Has he always loved vegetables?
Creighton: No. [laughs] No, is not a vegetable lover at all. But he knows all the stuff I’ve told him, the reports I’ve read about how important it is to get your vegetables in, and especially those cruciferous vegetables that are cancer-fighting and stuff. He knows. He’ll just force himself. And my kids, they’ll say, “Dad, you’ve got to eat your broccoli.”
Grove: The kids are onboard now. That’s perfect, that’s beautiful. So you have three boys; what are some of their favorites? What’s a usual snack or meal for them that they really enjoy?
Creighton: They love broccoli, and it might be because we’ve been growing our own vegetables when we can, and broccoli is one of them that we always have. So they like to see it grow and nurture the plant, and they taste it just fresh from the garden like that. So they really do love broccoli, and once in awhile I’ll steam it for them or steam cauliflower and drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle some sea salt on it. Something simple like that.
But they also like sushi, which I think is a great way to sneak vegetables in, do some veggie sushi. We do a lot of veggie pizzas, maybe sauté some vegetables and throw it on top, with no cheese, of course. Or even just vegetable pasta. One of the tools that I use a lot in our kitchen is the vegetable spiralizer, and it makes those raw noodles. It’s so fun; kids love it. So that’s a popular one in our house.
Grove: What’s your favorite thing to make noodles out of? Do you make zucchini noodles, or what’s the typical…
Creighton: Yep, zucchini and carrot, because I just like the color of that.
Grove: Yeah, it’s so colorful.
Creighton: Once in awhile, cucumber too. I like to put a raw marinara sauce on it. When my kids do it, they eat more of it, when they’re participating.
Grove: Absolutely. And the kids help you with the garden?
Creighton: Yeah, they love it. I just think that’s another great tip for moms out there if they’re trying to get their kids to eat vegetables, is to show them actually where it comes from. Start with a seed, let them water it, let them nurture it and talk about “this is how it grows, this is where it comes from, this is what it needs.” Also, teach them what it does for their bodies. Yeah, in my house and with my kids’ friends who have come over, they love it. They love going out in the garden and just picking and eating, when they can.
Grove: Giving your kids that understanding, that connection to what real food is and where it comes from.
Creighton: Yeah, absolutely. And also giving them the power. It’s like, “This is your plant. You take care of it, and then you get to reap the benefits of it.”
Grove: Yeah. You’d better take care of it, otherwise you don’t have dinner.
Creighton: That’s right. “No food for you.”
Grove: What about outside the home? Inside the home, there’s different ways you can create an atmosphere that encourages healthy eating and having those foods available and planting the garden with your children. Do you find that they tend to continue making good decisions when they’re at school or at their friend’s house?
Creighton: Yeah. I’m actually always surprised by how well they’re able to make healthy choices outside of our home. I know it comes from the choices that we make inside our home, but I also think that they probably deep down know, depending on the kid’s age, but I know my kids, they know how they feel when they eat certain foods, and they know how they maybe feel lethargic and tired if they eat other kinds of foods that aren’t so good for them. So generally, they’re able to make good choices.
The thing is that sometimes there’s not good choices. Like at school, the hot lunches are usually cheese-laden and it’s burgers and pizzas and stuff like that. So I know for some kids, it’s maybe hard to make a good choice, and that’s when as parents, I just think we have to step it up and take the time to pack them something nutritious.
Grove: What’s some examples – so you pack all their lunches?
Creighton: Oh yeah. I have to make sure I get up early enough for that. And sometimes they like to put their input in, but I always like to put fresh veggie sticks, pepper sticks, carrots, and maybe something to dip it into, hummus or salsa or a fresh guacamole. Usually some whole grain crackers, or we like to make our own trail mix with nuts and seeds and stuff like that, and raisins. I also like to keep on hand healthy baked goods. Once in awhile they want a little treat, so I’ll make a zucchini muffin or something like that, and I’ll just stick it in the freezer and then I can grab them when I need them.
Grove: You have three sons; how old are your boys?
Creighton: My boys are 4, 7, and 9.
Grove: Do any of them resist? Have any of them reached that stage where they kind of want to deny you and break out on their own and say, “No, Mom, I don’t want your lunch”?
Creighton: And be a rebel? It’s so funny, people ask me that, and I wouldn’t be mad at them if they did, because I know that I’ve informed them so much that they’re able to make their own decisions. At least the older two. But they really haven’t. They’re actually the ones that stick to it. Once in awhile, I’ll be tempted by something, like my husband loves cheesecake, and I’ll be like, “Oh, it looks so good,” and my oldest will be like, “But do you know how that’s made? Do you know where that comes from?” He kind of checks me.
Grove: Oh, that’s perfect. Have you ever seen or heard them sharing the wisdom with their friends?
Creighton: Yeah, it’s amazing. It’s amazing. I think a lot of parents are afraid that their kids will be made fun of or stick out at school if they’re vegan or if they’re raw. It’s just the opposite, I’ve found. My kids are in elementary school, and once in awhile, kids at the lunch table say “What is that?” or “Why don’t you eat this?”, and they just explain it in the way that kids explain it. It’s so simple. I think grown-ups make it complicated, but it’s just so simple.
It’s funny; my two older kids, the 7 and 9 year old, have actually convinced each of their best friends to try veganism, and their whole families have I would say become 90% vegan because of that over the last six months to a year. So already, it’s transformed other people’s lives. They taste the vegan food that I pack for them and they realize that “Oh, it’s not so bad,” or “Oh, I’ve never tried a raw pepper before,” and they realize that they like it. It’s been amazing to see that.
Grove: That is amazing. It just branched out like that. Now I’m curious, how might one of your kids explain that if one of their friends at school is like, “Why don’t you eat this pizza?” What do they say?
Creighton: They say, “Because I’m vegan,” and then they say, “What the heck does that mean?” And they’ll say, “I don’t eat anything that comes from animals, and cheese comes from cows.” Usually that’s enough information for the child who’s asking. But one example is a lot of kids eat chicken nuggets, and I showed my kids a video on YouTube on how they actually make chicken nuggets, and it looks like pink soft-serve ice cream. It was just disgusting. So they’ll tell that to their friends. [laughs]
Grove: “You’ve got to watch this video!”
Creighton: Yeah. I mean, I don’t show them anything too harsh, but that was one that I thought was beneficial. So they’ve told their friends about it, and some of them, it will stop them from eating the chicken nuggets. There’s definitely an effect there.
Grove: What about for breakfast with your family? Like getting everyone up before school or on the weekends, what’s a typical morning routine look like?
Creighton: Mornings now, I make sure that my kids all start their morning with fresh fruit, and they’re all okay with that. My husband and I always have our giant green smoothies, and the two older boys love their smoothies too. My 7 year old is not your traditional breakfast eater kind of kid, so I usually make sure that I have something else on hand for him, and usually it’s a whole grain pasta with vegetables mixed in. He’s totally satisfied with that. Or I’ll make a big batch of whole grain pancakes and we use the pure maple syrup on top or agave nectar.
So really, it’s pretty smooth in the mornings. They know what they like, I know what they like; as long as they’re getting the stuff that I know their bodies need, it’s pretty smooth. And in the smoothies, if they for some reason were really in a hurry and they just have a smoothie, I make sure to put some kind of hemp protein or something in it to kind of hold them over.
Grove: What do you guys like to put in your green smoothies? Just curious.
Creighton: We all have our own little tastes, but usually frozen berries and mangos. We rotate between kale or spinach or romaine. My kids love romaine. Then I make a water kefir for the probiotic benefit, so I put that in there, and usually some kind of almond milk. I think that’s it. And then like a hemp protein or something.
Grove: That sounds delicious. Do you guys ever do frozen smoothies and things in the summer for the kids?
Creighton: Yeah, we do. We like to make a lot of – we’ll make smoothies and then we’ll make an extra batch and freeze them and make popsicles out of them, which is fun, and sometimes put some whole frozen fruits in there so it just looks cool. I feel like the brighter the colors, the more they’ll eat it.
Grove: Yeah, then the kids want them. It’s like, “Yes, I want that.” I think a lot of our readers and a lot of people that are embracing a raw or vegan lifestyle for the first time run into a lot of obstacles being in a family situation where not everyone is onboard, or everyone’s on a different point in their journey. So you prepare most of the food for your whole family, right?
Creighton: Yes, yes.
Grove: What does that look like for you, preparing food that you and your husband can both enjoy, and for the kids?
Creighton: It wasn’t easy at first, and at times it can be challenging. I think I mentioned earlier, the fact that I respect my husband’s decision to eat meat while I wouldn’t go near it, I think that’s big. So if every family member respects each one’s decision and maybe becomes a little bit flexible, it can work out.
So what I do is I make sure to take one morning during the week where I just sit down for 20 minutes and plan out our meals. I’ll say on Monday we’ll have fajitas, on Tuesday it’s tacos, Wednesday it’s sushi or sandwiches or whatever, and then I can easily adapt the meals to suit our needs. So if it’s fajitas, I’ll make a bean fajita for us and then a separate little pan with chicken or whatever my husband wants for him.
It really is not that hard. I think if you just take that little bit of time in the beginning to plan out your meals, or, if your kids are old enough, talk about what kind of food they would prefer and get them participating and cooking if you can, that makes a huge difference. But the planning part is crucial in making it smooth. Really, over time, I think people are surprised by how much the carnivores accept the delicious veggies.
Grove: Yeah, just gradually it becomes less and less of a desire to…
Creighton: Yeah, they just kind of adapt to it.
Grove: So when you sit down and you spend 15, 20 minutes planning meals, are you mostly just focused on dinners, or do you plan out, think about what you have in the fridge and what you can do for lunches too? What’s your focus?
Creighton: The main focus is dinner because I know that we’ll have leftovers for lunches and stuff, but I also know that for lunches for my husband and myself, it’s usually just a giant salad with chopped up veggies or whatever in it. He might like some cheese in his. And for the kids, I’ll make a cold pasta salad or a quinoa dish that I can just keep in the fridge all week and it can be served cold in their lunchboxes.
But yeah, I feel like planning is key, and if you can think about all the meals, that’s best. But I know that’s hard for some people, so dinnertime seems to be the critical time when people are like “What are we going to eat?” “I don’t know, what do you want?”
Grove: And when you really want variety, because most people get in a routine of their breakfast and their lunches, and don’t need to switch those out as much. I think a key thing for a lot of people – I’m glad you mentioned that – is being able to take some time, maybe on a Saturday or Sunday, when your family can help you, and preparing a couple of those big dishes. Like an oversized quinoa salad, just so that there’s always something on hand when you’re hungry.
Creighton: Yeah, it’s so, so helpful. It just makes the week go that much smoother. And yeah, if you have kids that are old enough to help in the kitchen – I mean, my 4 year old has been helping since he was 2 and couldn’t really do anything, but he thought he was. They are so proud of their creations and that they were a part of the decision-making, and that just makes them want to eat it more.
Grove: Absolutely. I’m curious as to what birthday parties look like at your house. I think a lot of people have this idea that comfort foods, like “Yes, indulgence, we’re going to splurge, we’re going to go get an Oreo ice cream cake,” and I’m assuming it looks a little different around your house.
Creighton: Yeah, but it’s funny, there are so many great ways to veganize all those goodies. Birthday parties around here, I can make pretty much any kind of birthday cake that they want, and I’ve perfected some just basic vanilla or chocolate birthday cakes, and you can do the frosting and all that. Totally plant-based. I’ll usually ask them what they want for the meal before the cake, if they’re having a party.
It’s never really been an issue. The last one that we did, we decided to go with a Chinese food theme, so we had chow mein noodles that I made and vegetable spring rolls and stuff. The kids that come over have no idea that they’re eating a total plant-based diet. They have no idea.
Grove: Right, and there’s really no need to tell them.
Creighton: No, please don’t. Tell their parents. [laughs]
Grove: Yeah. “Your kids are eating so healthy right now.” Do you have other parents come to you a lot for advice and for ideas for their own families?
Creighton: Yeah, all the time people are asking me how they can make changes in their households. Because I feel like everybody wants to eat healthier; they just don’t know what to do. And labels tend to scare people, so if you say to them, “You should try to be vegan or you should try to be raw vegan,” that’s just going to freak them out. So yeah, I always have people coming up and asking.
The other thing I like to do is when we have company, I like to serve raw food dishes or vegan dishes or put different vegetables out if we’re having little kids over and just kind of sit back and see what they do. And 9 times out of 10, if not 10 times out of 10, they eat it and they like it and they don’t even ask questions about it, and then I can say, “Did you know that you were eating this?”
Grove: “What? I was tricked.”
Grove: I’m curious a little bit about your eBook and then your cookbook that’s coming out, because I think the meal planning and the menus are key for a lot of people. Because most people, and even most of our audience, do not eat a fully raw diet. It’s probably high raw, maybe vegan diet. Sometimes you just want that comfort of a cooked meal or of a hot meal. What do you find helps people, or what would you advise for people that are transitioning, in that transition phase of becoming more plant-based, trying to embrace a healthier lifestyle for the family?
Creighton: I think taking it slow for most people is the best way to do it, but I know other people like to just jump right in. But in my opinion, that kind of sets you up for failure. So just taking it slow and maybe making small changes like saying, “Okay, we’re going to take all the dairy out of our diet.” After a week, I think most people would realize how much better they feel if they took dairy out, for an example.
The eBook that I just released, Plants Only, is just a two-week meal plan. It’s just to kind of get people’s palates used to the flavors, and I think a lot of people are surprised by how good vegan food can taste and raw food, because they have these expectations or they’ve heard things about how funky it is or it’s weird.
But taking the labels out and maybe giving yourself the weekend to just eat whatever you want. Say “Monday through Friday, I’m going to try to be vegan, and then on the weekend, I’m not.” It kind of gives you an out and it takes away the guilt.
Grove: I think that’s a key psychological principle for a lot of people, is that the people that are going to be most successful know that they’re going to fail sometimes and know that they’re going to cheat sometimes, so you can plan it in and reduce the damage. I know a lot of times when you don’t have anything on hand to give you that sweet or to give you something when you’re really, really craving it, that’s when you end up going and buying a gallon of ice cream and before you know it, half of it’s gone.
Do you have any recommendations or things that your kids really love or that your family really loves? Little treats or sweet things that you keep on hand or snack foods maybe? What are some of your favorites of those?
Creighton: Just this past week, we’ve been on an ice cream kick, so for some reason, every night after dinner we’re going to have an ice cream sandwiches. I don’t know why, but we’re all doing it. What’s nice is there’s so many amazing products out there that are healthy. Ice cream, for an example, there’s several brands at so many retails now. It’s non-dairy, it’s completely plant-based ice cream, and it tastes so good. We found these sprinkles that are dyed with natural plant dyes so there’s no chemicals in it. There’s so many choices now that it’s pretty easy to indulge, but not really indulge, you know?
Grove: What are one of those ice cream sandwiches? I’m curious, I’ll have to go check them out.
Creighton: So Delicious has a brand. They’re made with coconut milk. There’s three main brands of the ice cream products that are so good, and I know Whole Foods is probably the most recognizable retailer that has them. There’s a store where I am in California called Sprouts that has all that stuff. Most of the natural food stores have them. I can’t think off the top of my head what those other two brands are. I should know that.
Grove: Do you guys do kale chips at all, or carrot chips?
Creighton: Oh, yeah. I love that. Also, you can use Swiss chard or another dark leafy green if you make your own chips, which is really fun.
Grove: Perfect, yeah.
Creighton: By the way, I thought of the names of those other dairy-free ice creams.
Grove: Oh, that’d be great. I’d love to check them out.
Creighton: There’s So Delicious, like I mentioned, and then there’s Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, and the other one is Rice Dream. Those are three good ones.
Grove: That’s wonderful. So then you can have a little after-dinner treat with your kids and not have to feel guilty about it.
Creighton: Yeah. And it’s really surprisingly good. My kids have a lot of end of the year ice cream parties and stuff with their school, their sports, so I usually just bring along a couple of cartons of that, and nobody even knows the difference.
Grove: That’s perfect. When your kids go to events with the school or at friends’ houses for birthday parties and stuff, do you ever send them with their own food? Or is that their kind of – they branch out and try different things?
Creighton: I rarely do send them with their own food. I usually make sure that they’re maybe well-fed beforehand, just in case there’s no food there that they want to eat, but I also feel like it’s important to give them the decision to say “maybe I want to eat that cupcake even though I know it’s not vegan,” although they never have done that. But I want them to have that choice.
Grove: Right. That they kind of take ownership of that.
Creighton: Yes. And usually they’re find with not having it. It really doesn’t faze them. I feel like it maybe affects the grown-ups more than the kids.
Grove: Yes. [laughs] Listening to you, I’m like, “Wow, really? Sounds like the kids are helping the parents stay more on track than the other way around.”
Creighton: It’s ridiculous, really.
Grove: That’s the best advice for if you’re trying to go raw vegan. Get your kids on it, and then they’ll help you out. I think sometimes we underestimate the wisdom of kids. When you teach someone something young and it makes sense, it’s in there. You don’t have all those years to build up bad habits.
Creighton: Yeah, and just really letting them be informed and teaching them where the food really comes from. Like with the whole factory farming thing, I think it’s important that everybody gets informed with that, because for kids, it’s easy. They’re like, “Well, I don’t want to be a part of that. Okay, fine, I won’t eat meat.” Whereas grown-ups, it’s a little bit more difficult.
Grove: “But we’ve eaten meat for so long.”
Creighton: Yeah, and then they feel guilty. There’s so much, it just gets so complicated with grown-ups.
Grove: What’s been key for you, like along when you were shifting your lifestyle, is there anyone in your life that really encouraged you? Or where did you look to when you had those moments where you’re like “I don’t know if I can do this anymore”?
Creighton: Well, my brother was a big factor just because he was so knowledgeable and he did this way before many others did. Like probably 15, 20 years ago, he was on the raw food kick and is still going strong. So he’s been a big help just because he’s so knowledgeable.
Then I usually just turn to the internet or go to the library and read books about it, and it’s so true, that cliché “knowledge is power,” because the more I feed my brain about why I should be eating this way, really the easier it is.
Grove: Yeah, you can just really embrace it as something that just is the only way. I remember when I was starting to make that shift in my own head where I could look at a processed cereal and I didn’t see food anymore. I’m like, “What is that?” But it took a long time.
Creighton: Yeah, it was just a bunch of weird ingredients.
Grove: I think it should be a slow journey. I think it’s good to pace yourself. Things last longer. What is your experience, what’s your community like? Do you have other moms or other families in your area that are vegan or vegetarian?
Creighton: I’m in northern California, San Francisco Bay area, where it’s really the best place to be supported in this lifestyle, because everywhere you go there’s great food choices and great restaurants that have the raw food. So I feel like it’s almost easier here and it’s easier to grow your own vegetables because the weather’s always beautiful.
Grove: Everyone just move to San Fran. We’re coming.
Creighton: It’s a little expensive; that’s the only thing. No, it’s definitely made it easier, but I still feel like it doesn’t mean that other people in other parts of the country or the world can’t do it. Really, it only takes one person to make that change, and that example that I gave you with my two boys who changed their friends’ families, that’s a big point right there. So now they know why they’re vegans, because their friends are now vegan. And who knows whose lives they’ll affect after that. It’s like a trickledown.
Grove: Creating your own community. That’s beautiful. Have you found running the Veggie Kids blog, has that been a source of encouragement and support?
Creighton: Oh yeah, that’s been amazing. There are so many people that feel the same way. They want to do better for their families, and they want to feed their kids a more nutritious diet, and they don’t really know where to start. So sticking together as a community is just so beneficial, and just giving that encouragement. It makes a big difference.
Grove: What are some of the most common struggles or questions you see from your readers?
Creighton: It is what you mentioned earlier, where one member of the family eats meat and the other doesn’t. Maybe they’re raising a kid, and the dad is saying “But I want him to eat meat!” and the mom is saying “But I don’t.” I get that all the time. What I recommend to my readers is to just do what you can. Like if your child is with you, then feed them the foods you want, the vegan foods and stuff, and if your child is with his or her father and maybe that father gives them meat, don’t stress about it. Don’t worry about it. Because there’s other things to worry about.
Grove: You don’t want to create dissonance at home and be like, “No, don’t listen to him. Don’t eat that meat.” It’s just giving them the freedom. Because that is, that can be so hard. Was that difficult for you and your husband to work out, how you were wanting to raise your kids and how you were wanting to feed them?
Creighton: Yeah. We still have discussions about it, but I feel like he knows too much now to even fight me on it. Because I’ll come back with a piece of literature saying “well, it’s proven that kids will become stronger, do better at school.” There’s so many positive facts about why we should incorporate vegan or raw vegan foods into our diet. But it still comes up once in awhile, but generally he’s accepted it, and just seeing how healthy and happy our kids are, and their moods are good, I feel like it all comes from what they eat, what they’re putting in their mouths.
Grove: Have you found any kid-friendly sources of information like that to teach them about food and teach them about veganism and raw? How do you teach, besides the gardening, what are ways that you’ve taught your kids about health?
Creighton: You know what, I’ve actually found that it’s not that easy. There aren’t that many resources out there. There is a book, and it’s one of those Idiot’s Guides books and it’s on kids and veganism. So I kind of flipped through that with them, and basically any time I find a piece of information, I share it with them. Maybe I don’t give them all the facts because I don’t want to freak them out, but honestly, I think that there should be more information out there for kids.
That brings up the issue of our pediatrician. I think a lot of the doctors are not knowledgeable on the subject, and it shows. So when I take my kids to their annual checkups, we have to talk about, “You have to make sure they get enough of this and that.” Like, “I know.” Make sure they’re getting their B12 and eating their beans and all that stuff. So it’s hard to find facts out there for kids. It really is.
Grove: Things that are media that’s easily digestible for children. But you have added to the scene with your children’s book, kind of a fun, entertaining way to encourage health. What inspired you to write The Boy Who Loved Broccoli?
Creighton: That came from my oldest son, who was like two or three at the time, and he really did have an insatiable appetite for broccoli, and I was just amazed by it. And my other kids kind of followed suit. I just really think it’s so important to encourage kids to eat their veggies.
A lot of times parents assume that kids maybe don’t like vegetables, but I think it’s maybe because the parents don’t like vegetables, so they just assume “My child won’t like it.”
But if we can just make it fun and say “this broccoli will give you superpowers” or “eat carrots because they make you have x-ray vision” or whatever it is, just to make it fun. So yeah, The Boy Who Loved Broccoli came from my oldest’s appetite for broccoli.
Grove: That’s so fun. That stuff I think can be so powerful. I mean, Popeye, my brother growing up, he ate so much spinach. He ate not a single other vegetable, but spinach he would eat. I just love that stuff. I love that you did that. Do you have any other projects like that that you hope to one day undertake?
Creighton: Oh yeah, I have so any. I’m trying to narrow it down.
Grove: One thing at a time.
Creighton: Yeah. But I do have another children’s book that is kind of on the back burner. The little now is Vegan Voyagers, and it’s about a group of vegan kids who go out and change the mindset of other kids and sort of take over the world kind of thing.
And you know, there are the books by Ruby Roth – I don’t know if you’re familiar with her, but she has two books about veganism out and she has another one coming out in August that’s like an ABC book called V is for Vegan. I had a chance to look at that before it’s been released. She’s really one of the only authors I can think of that’s published some books on veganism and kids, and my own kids love her books, so I think it’s great.
Grove: Oh wow, that’s great. So all the people listening, we need some kid-friendly healthy literature and videos.
Creighton: It’s hard, though. It’s not popular, so it’s hard to get the books published, because publishers are saying “We don’t know if there’s an audience for that,” but clearly there is.
Grove: And more and more every day, I think.
Creighton: Yeah, so many more. It’s amazing.
Grove: That’s really wonderful. To wrap it up, I’d love to hear some encouragement or some advice that you have for moms who maybe are struggling with this right now, whose kids didn’t maybe grow up on the veggie train, grew up watching their parents eat junk food a lot, and just are having trouble embracing these new ideas and this new lifestyle. Do you have any advice or encouragement that you could offer?
Creighton: Yeah, absolutely. Take it slow. One thing that I’ve learned is to crowd out the bad choices with the good. So don’t think of it like “you can’t have” something. Just fill up on the good stuff first, and eventually, over time, you’ll find that the bad choices just kind of go away. Doing as much research as possible is really important. The more informed your decisions are, the better. There’s so many great educational documentaries and books out there that –
Grove: Do you have any favorites or any ones that you think are…
Creighton: Food Revolution is a great one.
Grove: So if I woke up and my kids just will not eat fruit, will not eat their green smoothie, do you have a backup of a backup?
Creighton: Okay, if your kid is really that –
Grove: Really picky.
Creighton: Yeah, that holding to his guns on that, then I would say maybe you could offer three good choices and let them have the power to decide, but make sure they’re all three good choices. If they don’t like strawberries, have two other foods available, but make sure that they’re good choices.
And don’t give up. Just keep trying it. I’ve read articles that say it takes up to 50 times to get a kid to eat something. I don’t think it takes that long – and some of my own kids have been that way with certain foods. Just keep trying, keep offering it, let them see it, let them play with it even. Most people say “Don’t play with your food,” but I think it’s actually a good thing.
Grove: Yes. Play with your food. That’s great.
Creighton: And then also taking a “no thank you” bite. One of my kid’s teachers says this, where she has the kids take a “no thank you” bite. Just one bite and then say “no thank you” and they don’t have to eat any more of it.
Grove: Ah, but at least they tried it. I love that. A “no thank you” bite. Well, that’s great. So it seems like persistence is key, and also just being gentle and being patient with yourself and with your family. It’s a slow process, and gradually the good choices out-win the bad. That’s all we can really ask of ourselves. That is success, that’s health.
Creighton: Yeah, and don’t stress out about it. It’s all good, and the more you eat healthy, the more you want to eat healthy. The more you eat processed junk food, the more you want to eat that. So it gets easier over time.
Grove: That is encouraging. That is good to hear. It does get easier. Before I let you go, what’s next on the horizon for Sarah Creighton? What’s going on in your world?
Creighton: Next is that cookbook. I don’t have a title for it yet; I have a couple working titles. But the cookbook hopefully will be released this summer, and it is a meal-planning cookbook, so it’s a weekly breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack meal planning guide with the recipes and with the grocery list all right there to make it as easy as possible on families.
Grove: That sounds like it’ll be a great resource.
Creighton: Yeah. That’s the main thing I’m focused on, and I just keep plugging away at my blog. I get inspired all the time with recipes and stuff, and I love to share those with people.
Grove: For people that would love to check you out and follow you online and learn more about you, where would you send them? Where should they go?
Creighton: Veggie-Kids.com. Then you can also find the books there, too.
Grove: Sounds great. Sarah, it’s so great to have you. Thanks for sharing all of your wisdom with us.
Creighton: Thank you so much.
Grove: So there you have it: Sarah Creighton of Veggie Kids. You can check her out online at Veggie-Kids.com, and stay tuned for her cookbook that’s coming out this summer to help you transition to a plant-based diet with daily meal plans. Sounds awesome. We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes out for it.
Creighton: Great. Thanks so much, Sara.