The Rootlets will make your kids excited about vegetables

Looking for a new book to read to your kiddos? What about one that illustrates the super powers of vegetables that encourage your kids to actually want to eat kale, broccoli, corn and carrots?

Chicagoan Vicki Marquez is a certified health coach, wellness expert, plant-based chef and author. She is on a mission to get kids excited about healthy living and vegetables. Her first book is called The Rootlets: Super Rootabilities. The book became available in stores in March, National Nutrition Month.

My 7-year-old son and I sat down and read the entire book together. He was intrigued with the main characters super powers: Brocc, Cornelius, Kaley and Carrotina . Beyond their superpowers, the book touches on the magic of friendship and imagination. When the book was over, he immediately asked to read about their next thrilling adventure. Besides wanting to read more, I also noticed that after reading the book, he gobbled up the carrots and broccoli on his plate.

My son and I both cannot wait to see what journeys are ahead for these veggie super heroes. The Rootlets is available for purchase now on amazon.com. For more information, visit www.therootlets.com.

From one health nut to another, I asked Marquez some foodie questions. Read her yummy and nutritious answers below.

What is your favorite vegetable recipe?

I’m a foodie and a huge vegetable lover, so most recipes make my heart do a happy dance, but if I had to narrow it down, I would say that my favorite recipes are those that are super quick and easy and that my family loves as much as I do. Rutabaga burgers are high up on that list. They’re delicious, a breeze to make, extremely kid-friendly and really easy to spruce up with herbs, spices and toppings if you want something a little more fancy.

Veggie tacos are a very close second.

What is your favorite vegetable?

Even though they’re not technically a vegetable, mushrooms are definitely a favorite. Button, portobello, oyster, cremini, shiitake, truffles, you name it. I love them all.

What food do you indulge in?

French fries … they’re my kryptonite. Luckily, they’re an easy indulgence to “healthify.” I always have potatoes on hand for when the craving strikes. I just slice ’em, spice ’em, bake ’em and eat ’em without the guilt.

What is your favorite Chicago restaurant and why?

One of my favorite restaurants in the city is Green Zebra. Besides being 100 percent veggie-focused, their menu is creative, seasonal, locally sourced and incredibly delicious.

RUTABAGA BURGERS RECIPE

Makes: 4 large burgers or 8 mini sliders

Gluten-Free, Vegan

Have dinner ready in no time with these quick, easy and incredibly delicious rutabaga burgers.

Ingredients

2 cups roasted rutabaga*, skins removed and mashed (approx. two medium rutabagas)

2 cups of cooked quinoa

One yellow onion, diced

Three cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. of fresh chopped chives (optional)

1 Tbsp. of ground flaxmeal

Sprinkle of crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper for added heat (optional)

1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Avocado or Grapeseed oil for cooking

*You can substitute the rutabaga in this recipe any hearty root vegetable that you like. Sweet potatoes, turnips, sunchokes or golden potatoes all work great!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Slice rutabagas lengthwise, drizzle both halves with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake until soft and golden. This typically takes about 40 minutes. Allow to cool for about five minutes, and then remove skins, and mash the rutabaga in a large bowl.

  3. Prepare quinoa according to package instructions.

  4. Sweat the onions over low heat until tender and translucent. Then, add the garlic, and cook an additional minute.

  5. Add the quinoa, along with the onion/garlic mixture, into the bowl with the mashed rutabagas, and gently stir to combine.

  6. Next, add the chives, flaxmeal, spice if desired, sea salt and pepper and fold into the rutabaga quinoa mixture.

  7. Form the mixture into rounds the size of golf balls, then flatten into burgers, and lightly fry in a high heat oil (like avocado or grapeseed) for approximately three minutes on each side.

  8. Enjoy with fresh cashew carrot pate drizzled with harissa oil or with a dollop of cashew sour cream and pickled fennel.

And for an extra time saver tip: Make the mixture on Sunday night, and have them ready to go for a quick after-work meal during the week.

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