Camila Alves McConaughey writes to picky eaters | Entertainment

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 adults.

“Just Try One Bite” (Penguin Random House) follows three kids as they try to get their parents to ditch ice cream, cake, and chicken fried steak and embrace healthy, whole foods. Really, all kids want is for adults to try just one bite of something healthy.

“It’s not that the preaching is perfect. I know I am not. I know my house is not. We have a long way to go,” says the Brazilian model and entrepreneur. “It’s about making small changes.”

The rhyme book, 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 the chance to try kale in a humorous reverse story.

“Oh dad, oh mom, please keep an open mind. You can’t say kale is disgusting if you don’t even taste it,” they plead in the book. “A well-rounded dinner really should be more than fries they found on the floor of your car.”

A breakthrough occurs when the parents finally eat cauliflower and love it. This opens the door to yams, clam linguine and, as a reward, donut holes. Yes, sweets are allowed, in moderation.

“One of the most important conversations about self-improvement is having it early,” Alves says from his 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 for themselves.”

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 son ate nothing but beans, prompting 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 kids in charge and creates a bit of chaos.” It’s so much more easy to draw something when the words are incredibly descriptive and visual because it fuels your imagination,” he says.

He also has three children, but fortunately they are not so demanding. “In fact, they like a lot of vegetables and foods that I wasn’t sure they would like,” he jokes. “Things I didn’t like when I was a kid.”

Alves has some tips for parents of picky eaters beyond making dishes more fun by arranging foods in the shape of faces. One of the ways he keeps his family happy is by sticking to good eating rules during the week before having a Friday off where everyone can eat whatever they want.

She also helps each child choose a “vomited vegetable”, an item they can skip as long as they try all the others. (His vegetable to vomit would be okra, a slimy enemy of all life, he says.) Another tip: Encourage kids to help cook so they can familiarize themselves with the ingredients.

“My daughter was like, ‘I really don’t like onions.’ Once I have him cook that sauce with me, he’ll be like, ‘Oh, I can’t eat that. You put the onion”. And I’ll be like, ‘I put onions in it every time I make it.’

Alves grew up on a farm in Brazil and moved to Los Angeles as a teenager. “The relationship with food and its origin, from seed to table, was very much alive for me growing up,” he says.

It’s something he tries to replicate by adding many colors to his dishes: 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 serve themselves.

Growing up, her family never talked about cutting back on sugar, something they still struggle 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 accepting the idea that no one is perfect. He admits that his children have understood his chocolate addiction and that he is starting to consume less sweet and darker versions. He says, “No matter what stage you’re at, there’s always room to do a little better.”

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