Great Cookbooks for Families
Reviewed by Katy Killilea
What the authors of this book mean by “real food” is quality ingredients coming together to make something delicious. They put a strong emphasis on nutrition, have an underlying philosophy that food should be enjoyed, and believe there’s room in everyone’s diet for all kinds of foods. That said, butter, ghee, and cream appear in the recipes, so it’s not all health food. Real Food for Healthy Kids is an interesting response to The Sneaky Chef and Deceptively Delicious. These chef/mother/authors seem offended by the idea that parents should smuggle in quality ingredients as a way to trick kids into eating them. Isn’t it nice to relax a bit about growing up big and strong, and just make a lot of different things, and make them all taste delicious?
Aside from the appealing philosophy, what makes this a good family cookbook? Nutrition information for growing bodies kicks off the first chapter, followed by tips for creating a kid-friendly kitchen. The recipe chapters are organized by meal, with additional chapters on first foods for babies, drinks, snacks, and gluten-free and casein-free (meaning dairy-free) cooking. Each chapter includes meal-planning ideas (and what to pack in a lunch or bento box in the lunch chapter). In a stroke of busy-parent genius, the dinner chapter features side-by-side recipes; the first intentionally provides leftovers for use in the second. Every recipe includes nutrition information, and realistic estimates of how much time the recipe will take from start to finish.
Even the simplest recipes are clever: as a finger food for babies, crush cheerios or a graham cracker into fine crumbs and roll diced kiwi in them. There are more complicated options, of course. With a child’s first Caesar salad recipe, several riffs on lasagna, and lots of meat and desserts, there are tons (over 200 recipes) of interesting ideas.
This is a quick lunch or dinner recipe that will remind kids of a few of their favorite things: pizza, quesadillas, and nachos. It takes five minutes to prepare, plus eight minutes to bake.
South-of-the-Border Pronto Pizza
From Real Food for Healthy Kids By Tracey Seaman and Tanya Wenman Steel
- Four 10-inch flour tortillas, preferably whole wheat
- One 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 10 ounces shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1 large ripe tomato, diced
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Guacamole, green salsa, or plain low-fat yogurt for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 500°F
2. Place 2 tortillas on each of 2 large baking sheets. Divide the beans (a heaping 1/3 cup each) and cheese among the tortillas, sprinkling evenly and leaving a 1-inch border. Bake the pizzas for about 8 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the cheese is bubbly. Transfer the pizzas to a board and cut each into quarters. Sprinkle chopped tomato and cilantro on top and serve with guacamole, salsa, or yogurt on the side.
Photo credits: Book: HarperCollins, Watermelon kid: University of Massachusetts