Adina Watts’ Vegan Made Kids Adds a Tasty Twist to Kid-Friendly Cookbooks

“If the food tastes good, children will eat it!”

Written By Miesha W. Headen

Adina Watts wrote and self-published her cookbook, Vegan Made Kids: Recipes Children Will Love, in November 2020 with an eye toward building healthy, strong families. Adina and her husband, Marcillis Warren, live in Cleveland Heights with their five children, who have all been vegan for the past 10 years. Her love of cookbooks and healthy eating motivated her to write a kid-friendly cookbook. “Because I am a mom with so many children, I know that it can be difficult to take care of a lot of people and still take care of yourself,” Adina says. “Especially with COVID, it’s mentally stressful. Doing things together, like cooking, builds the bond of the family and morale. You are having fun together; you are eating together; you are making really good memories.”

Vegan Made Kids is a cookbook with breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes that parents and children can make together. Adina emphasizes flavor. She repeats “If the food tastes good, children will eat it,” almost as a mantra. Her most-used spices are smoky paprika and Celtic salt. She insists that being vegan is easy. However, she acknowledges that families can’t upend their diets in one day. She recommends starting by incorporating a vegan meal into one’s regular diet once or twice per week.

The sure crowd-pleasers in this cookbook are fried cauliflower with a maple syrup dipping sauce and tacos with homemade salsa and guacamole. She also praises hibiscus lemonade made with maple sugar, filtered water, and Meyer lemons, a hybrid of lemon and mandarin orange. “A lot of people like red drinks, like Kool-Aid. This is a better substitute.” Adina uses hibiscus tea as a point to demonstrate how to raise your children as healthy eaters. She encourages parents to learn about food and then actively teach their children about what they are putting into their bodies. She wants parents to take their children to the grocery store and read the labels together.

“Teach kids about what they are eating. Give them the responsibility of knowing. Like, hibiscus tea is red because of the fruit; Kool-Aid is red because it has [the chemical] red 40. Red 40 is toxic. Educating your children is like putting them on autopilot,” Adina says. When asked how to get husbands to embrace veganism, Adina says to promote the positive health outcomes from plant-based diets. “Men are interested in virility. With a plant-based diet, your circulation is better. You know what circulation is good for.”

Adina shops local for fresh and organic foods. Her favorites markets are the Rid-All Green Partnership (greennghetto.org) located at East 82nd St. and Otter Rd. and the Village Family Farms Farmers’ Market located at East 89th and Crawford Rd.. Both are Black-owned markets, sharing Adina’s commitment to building a community of healthy eaters. Rid-All Green Partnership once partnered with artist Martinez Garcia to publish a kid-friendly comic book about a green superhero who saves the world through environmentalism.

A self-declared bibliophile, Adina stocks her personal library with cookbooks. She poured her love of cookbooks into Vegan Made Kids, which is a gorgeously crafted publication. Completing her book in only four months, she bought a professional camera and taught herself food photography. She plated and lighted her nightly dinners using the books in her personal cookbook library as examples. The resulting cookbook is on par with any cookbook from a well-known publishing house, with high-quality binding and sharp colors. It is a welcome local addition to the current wave of kid-friendly cookbooks.

Vegan Made Kids: Recipes Children Will Love is on sale at Loganberry Books, an independent bookstore in Shaker Heights, OH, or on Amazon.

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