Get Fit, Get Healthy: Squash Boom Beet

Posted: Feb 16, 2017 5:34 PM EST

We all remember being there as children, pushing those Brussels sprouts around the plate, wishing they’d disappear.

Our parents were close by, telling us to eat our vegetables.

It certainly wasn’t the best way to inspire a love of different foods, but a Traverse City mom has a different way, a better way, to make eating an adventure for the whole family.

Learn how in this week’s Get Fit, Get Healthy.

For many mothers, this looks like fantasy land.

Kids helping make dinner and eating their vegetables!

But life wasn’t always like this for mom of three, Lisa Maxbauer-Price.

“Running around to t-ball games and soccer games and stuff, I just felt like we were losing track of food, too. We were losing our connection of where, really, food comes from. I didn’t want my kids to think it was just frozen pizza for dinner, or, you know, that carrots come washed and peeled in a plastic bag,” says Lisa.

But this health and nutrition journalist knew how important it is to establish good eating habits now, while her boys were still young.

“Over the years in my career, I’ve interviewed hundreds, if not thousands of people who’ve suffered from health or weight problems and they’ve all pretty much told me the same thing; they wished they learned to be better eaters when they were children. So I knew that was key, if we could start educating kids to be more empowered eaters that may make a major change for the course of their whole life,” explains Lisa.

That was how her book, “Squash Boom Beet” was born.

“I’m on a mission to get people to get healthy, so that’s awesome if people can start eating healthier. But I really want people to start having more fun with their food again, and be more adventurous eaters,” says Lisa.

And what could be more adventurous than dinosaur kale or carnival squash?

“All the bright colors and the crazy textures, and especially the really interesting names. What kid wouldn’t want to brag that they’ve had dragon tongue beans or fairytale eggplant?” says Lisa.

She took this journey with her family. She did all the photography and everything featured in the book is grown at farms across Northern Michigan.

“I’m a fifth generation Traverse City native, so the fact that I could use my background and help raise awareness to agriculture here is just meaningful to me,” explains Lisa.

So as she picked up all these vegetables, the family got to taste them all too.

“Around our table, we say eat brave. You know if someone is looking at something and they look like they don’t want to try it or they’re being picky, we chant ‘eat brave’ just give it a try, you know,” says Lisa.

And making them a part of the process certainly helps — from shopping to cooking.

“Kids love playing with their food, food chopping and stuff, and it’s pretty empowering if you give a kid a kids safety knife and let them chop a red cabbage they will think it’s the most exciting thing in the world to play with their food,” explains Lisa.

But these changes don’t happen overnight.

For parents who aren’t having a lot of luck bringing their kids and vegetables together in harmony, Lisa understands and has some advice.

“It’s so hard. I think in a lot of ways you think about nutrition like a sprint. I just have to get them to eat this one meal, whatever it takes, begging or whatever, but I’m trying to inspire families to think of it as more of a marathon. Like, if you can just start planting these seeds and empowering them now, it gets easier in the long run and you get a lot farther with it,” says Lisa.