Author, chef, and host of the healthy living TV show Nourished, Vicki Marquez was just featured in Chicago’s Daily Herald for her piece “Morning routines for school or office helped with breakfast on the fly” as well as her recipe Nutty Overnight Pudding for busy moms.
Vicki is a plant based chef who connects with kids, educators, and parents at Chicago-area schools through her Rootlets’ School Rocksprogram and the Rooting For You initiative, both designed to inspire a new generation of lifelong readers and healthy eaters.
A board certified health coach, she is the first chef to host a television show (Nourished, based in Chicago) structured as healthy living coaching. Vicki and her recipes have been featured in The Herald-News, Chicago Parent, Washington Parent, VegKitchen, and Chicago’s Daily Herald.
It’s opening day at Mr. Fungo Fungi’s magnificent amusement park, Plantasy Land…and The Rootlets couldn’t be more excited! With special surprises and newly sprouted rides, this is sure to be the greatest day ever! But when The Rootlets arrive at the park, they realize that something is terribly wrong. Plantasy Land is in trouble! Someone—or something—is destroying the park. Could it be The Great Zucchini, Mr. Fungi’s new magician? Or could there be an even greater danger lurking beyond the park? Most of all, can The Rootlets trust their new super rootabilities to help them save their favorite place on the planet?
This one is a must-read! Children ages 3-9 will enjoy!
Vicki Marquez author of The Rootlets
- What inspired you to create this series?
A: The idea of The Rootlets popped into my head one day as I was thinking about how I could help inspire kids to want to — and to be excited to — eat their veggies and make good, healthy choices. That thought lit a fire inside of me and I immediately knew that these characters were something special – that’s what inspired me to take action, create this series, build this brand and bring these characters to life.
- How would you describe the dynamic between the Rootlets—Brocc, Carrotina, Cornelius and Kaley?
A: The Rootlets are best friends, with a special bond and a lot of trust between them. They count on (and value) each others’ unique set of talents and strengths, and they operate like a little team…always rooting for and looking out for one another, no matter what kind of trouble their next adventure brings!
- How did you decide what traits the Rootlets would possess?
A: It wasn’t actually a conscious decision – they each began taking on certain characteristics with that initial vision I had of them. Right away it was clear who they were and what was important to each one of them. Brocc was smart and into studying, Cornelius was the jokester who loved to have fun. Kaley was a fancy girly-girl and Carrotina was a brave adventure-seeker. It felt like I knew them.
A few months after I wrote the first book (Super Rootabilities), my husband said to me that each Rootlet reminded him of me, like they were me — at the core — divided into four. And in retrospect, I can totally see that…everything that The Rootlets love, I love. So, I guess that maybe I subconsciously selected their traits based on those things…and that each one actually represents a little part of me.
- We have to ask about one of the most distinct aspects of The Rootlets—their vegetable hair. What inspired that idea?
A: When I first transitioned to a plant-based diet, my best friend kept calling me her “veggie head.” That nickname was running through my brain when I first had the idea of The Rootlets. I envisioned these adorable kids with big, veggie hairdos: a broccoli afro, carrot pigtails, blonde kernels, leafy green locks…it was how I saw them, and it was absolutely perfect.
- The Rootlets features bright and brilliant illustrations. Did the characters look the way you envisioned while writing the book?
A: My illustrator, Jeremy, and I actually developed the characters long before I wrote the first story, so I was lucky to have a very clear visual reference of these kids as I was developing the series. But I will say that when Jeremy sent me those very first sketches of The Rootlets, he 1000% captured on paper what these characters looked like in my head.
- Since you are an expert in health and nutrition with years of experience, what types of research did you do to write The Rootlets?
A: The Rootlets series is all about the evolution of these four young kids who learn that they’re superheroes and who now have to navigate the huge responsibilities that come along with that, so all of my research was focused around character and story development, as well as general writing tips and guidelines for kids literature.
The health and nutrition aspects of this series are indirect and expressed creatively, so that requires a lot less research, and a lot more imagination.
- In The Rootlets, adventurous kids who love to play and a healthy lifestyle go hand-in-hand. Was that connection intentional?
Yes, it was intentional, but also very obvious. The Rootlets are relatable role models who love to play, explore and go on little adventures, just like most kids – and those are all really great health-promoting activities to encourage.
- What is the key to inspiring kids to make healthier choices?
A: There are two keys: fun and familiarity! Fun is the easy one…kids seek it, love it, have to have it…and they’re motivated by it! So, when veggies and fruits are presented in a fun, exciting way, kids are much more interested in them.
Familiarity is the other key. Most kids (and adults) prefer to try (and buy) things that they’re familiar with. The Rootlets series introduces and popularizes healthy, plant-based foods, so that when kids see them in the grocery store or at the farmers market, they’re much more curious and excited to try them.
- Why is reaching and educating kids about healthy choices in elementary school important to their lifelong health?
A: Because so many of the habits that we have as adults stem from the habits that we developed when we were little. Good habits, like brushing our teeth, are gems that’ll serve us well our whole lives, but bad habits — especially unhealthy eating habits — are really hard to break and can lead to serious chronic disease and illness. Teaching kids, from an early age, about the superpowers of veggies and the importance of making good nutritional choices, establishes the foundation for them to build strong, healthy habits that will stay with them as they grow up.
- What would you consider to be the biggest challenge to raising healthy kids today?
A: Time…for sure! Parents are SO busy these days that finding the time to meal plan, shop and cook can be a real challenge. That’s why I’m really excited that our Rootlets blog now features quick and healthy kid-friendly recipes that parents can easily whip up and feel really good about sharing with their little ones.
Self Disclosure: I received a free book to participate in the blog tour. Photos and info were provided.