I have a great deal of respect for the work Sarah Fragoso, author of Everyday Paleo (listen to my June 2011 podcast interview with Sarah about this book), is doing to promote the healthy Paleo diet to a generation of people who are severely carbohydrate-addicted, sugar-stoned, fat-phobic and getting more obese and chronically ill than ever before. Now that she has changed her life as an adult and sharing in every way imaginable what she has learned with her adult peers, Sarah has turned her focus of attention to a group of people she feels so incredibly passionate towards as a mom who cares about health and nutrition–KIDS! She wholeheartedly agrees that reaching the next generation with the Paleo message is essential to producing a radical shift in our society to be healthier through proper diet and fitness methods. That’s why she started this brand new series of books designed just for kids to teach them about what Paleo living is all about beginning with Paleo Pals: Jimmy and the Carrot Rocket Ship (don’t miss my February 14, 2012 interview with Sarah in Episode 546 about this new children’s book on “The Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show”).
One thing that especially struck me was the beautiful illustrations that basically tell the story without the use of any words. Interestingly, the illustrator remains anonymous and did not want any credit for his work to be attributed to him on the front cover. He did such an excellent job with vibrant character depictions, appropriate expressions and the look and feel of a Saturday morning cartoon (wouldn’t it be cool to see a “Paleo Pals” cartoon coming in the not-too-distant future–it could happen!). This book for the illustrations alone would be worth getting–but Sarah did a truly amazing job with the script weaving together a tale that I wish more kids would be exposed to.
Superheroes are glorified in most of today’s animated films and Paleo Pals falls right within the vein of that concept. In fact, the three masked and caped heroes–Phoenix, Piper and Parker–kinda look like characters from The Incredibles. This story centers around a little boy named Jimmy (LOVE that name, Sarah–HA!) who isn’t at all interested in the healthy Paleo meals that his parents want him to eat. So the triple-P Paleo Pals hop into their carrot ship to give little Jimmy a lesson in what Paleo is really all about. They explain that every kid kinda rebels against eating this way at first, learn why quality food is so important for them to eat, discover that most of the “food” he has been eating comes from factories that do not care about your health because they put all kind of dastardly ingredients in the products, gain an appreciation of where his foods come from by visiting farmer’s markets and local farms, and kindle a love for real food that is so sorely missing from the dinner plates of most children these days. I couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear as I flipped through these oversized pages with the awe and wonder of a little one learning about this stuff for the first time.
Sarah also does an outstanding job at dispelling the myth that kids need to fuel up on carbohydrates to have energy to play. Nope! She has the Paleo Pals share with Jimmy how eating the wrong foods can make you feel sick and tired, angry and prone to fighting, and worse. But if you feed your body properly (with a Paleo diet), then it is possible to be bursting with energy galore and to excel in athletics. While many look at diets as a means for losing weight, Sarah gently reminds parents and children that Paleo is about living optimally healthy and fit. And that also means being intellectually fit as the story continues of how one child overcame her nutritional deficiencies to begin excelling at playing an instrument because she could think clearer without the brain fog that came from consuming excessive sugar and other unhealthy “food” ingredients. There are biological changes that take place when you switch to a healthy eating and lifestyle plan like Paleo and this book makes it all seem normal for the children and parents who will be reading this.
When the Paleo Pals have completed their mission with Jimmy, he excitedly rushes in to tell his parents that he’s ready to eat Paleo willingly so he can experience all of the benefits this way of eating has to offer him. In the end, Jimmy got his own superpowers to share what he has learned with other kids who were once like him. I can’t tell you how sorely needed a resource like this is for parents struggling for a way to connect with their kids about eating healthy. While I don’t personally have any children of my own, I can think of at least 10 parents who desperately need to get a copy of Paleo Pals to help their defiant kid understand why they can’t and, more importantly, shouldn’t have Fruit Loops for breakfast or McDonald’s for supper. Giving kids an appreciation and a love for healthy eating is perhaps the greatest gift you can give them as they enter adulthood. I can see this book becoming a classic resource for families for many years to come. Can you imagine a kid who is exposed to Paleo Pals now having kids of their own and reading this book to their kids someday? It could (and probably will) happen.
Not content with just telling a fun story, Sarah adds in some tips and tricks towards the back of the book for making Paleo a normal part of your child’s life. The food list is priceless for newbies who may not know what you can and cannot eat on a Paleo diet. And what would a Sarah Fragoso book be without some yummy, kid-friendly recipes like Zippy Zucchini Pizza Bites, Paleo Pals Pancakes, Rockin’ Rocket Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, and Energizing Egg Mini Muffins? So it’s dinner and show all wrapped up in one remarkable book that your child will surely love and enjoy over and over again. And it’s never too early to start exposing your son or daughter to these concepts and they’re never too old to be reminded of the incredible benefits that await them from eating this way. THANK YOU Sarah Fragoso for the foresight of looking for ways to engage the next generation of adults who will quite possibly be leading the way to making Paleo mainstream in the years to come!