Cookbook Faceoff


From Lisa Barnes

Everyone is wondering…is the cookbook written by Jessica Seinfeld (above), Deceptively Delicious too much like Missy Chase Lapine’s The Sneaky Chef? It’s quite the talk in the NY Times, food blogs, and parenting websites. The big issues here are not who took who’s ideas or recipes because sneaking in veggies is an old time practice. There has always been the spinach in the brownie recipe in Parents Magazine every other year. I made it once and let’s just say it’s a great way to ruin chocolate. Plus having gone through the lengthy process of book publishing – there are similar ideas and subjects in the works at different publishing houses all the time (although it is strange for one of the houses to pass up Lapine and go with Seinfeld – but a celebrity will always sell more books, period). Anyways…

The bigger issue for me is should we be sneaking? I like that the blogs at the NY Times site ask this question and most parents who write in say no. I agree. If you’re sneaking it in, this must mean you’re cooking at late hours, during naps, when the children are out of the house. Because kids know everything and are naturally curious. And they should be especially in the kitchen. How can your child help you prep, cook, shop and menu plan if they’re not supposed to see what’s in the food? Everyone is missing out on a valuable lesson of sharing and learning in the kitchen. How about showing them a perfectly ripe piece of fruit or interesting shape of a vegetable at a farmer’s market, instead of pretending to make a boxed macaroni and cheese from your pantry. I don’t think deception and trickery belong in the kitchen on a regular basis or as a means to establishing healthy diets and eating habits. Now I’ve put in my 2 cents on the controversy.I just think it’s exciting that people are talking about children’s food and this cookbook genre. When it makes the Yahoo! Headlines and the NY Times you know it’s important stuff.

Don’t worry Jessica, Jerry’s Bee Movie is out now… so he’s in the news again. Ironically I saw his Bee character doing a McDonald’s ad. There’s one place there’s no hidden veggie purees.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Image Credit: New York Times
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Potluck or Pot(un)luck? To Make or Not to Make. (Organic Kabobs Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

My son’s preschool class had their first pot luck open house. I marked my calendar and saw the sign-up sheet posted in the classroom. I didn’t have anything special in mind to make. Last year I made a lovely edanamme salad. I reviewed the potluck list and noticed three people had signed up for entrees, then next to their names it said pizza (three times!). I was a bit surprised. Were they all making pizza? I didn’t think so. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought potlucks were supposed to be homemade items. Please correct me if I’m wrong. I am new to the whole family/school events. To be sure something at the event would be homemade I signed up for an entree, but didn’t write in the item (I didn’t know yet). Yes, it was a bit competitive of me.

As for the meaning of potluck. I (of course) looked it up on Wikipedia and found that the word comes from the two words “(cooking) pot and luck”, probably derived from “whatever food one is lucky enough to find in the pot”. Seems the only traditional rule is that each dish be large enough to be shared among a good portion (but not necessarily all) of the anticipated guests. I was wrong. These days it apparently can be anything from anyone’s pot (or supermarket shelf) or restaurant menu.

That afternoon I made these quick and easy kabobs with a simple whole wheat couscous. I made some full skewers and some pieces of chicken and veggies I put on a toothpick (easier for kids) . When I got to the pot luck, not only did I see pizza boxes, but also boxed Halloween cupcakes (the kind I thought were banned because of the mile high frosting), restaurant chicken, take out burritos and other non-homemade items. To be fair their were also other homemade dishes – lasagna, pasta salad, green salad, brownies. I made it a point to support and eat the other homemade offerings. However my son went straight for the bright orange cupcakes (as did most every other child) – wondering if they’d be enough for everyone and also noticing there was a Halloween ring on top. When all was said and done, the crowd was hungry and there wasn’t much of anything left (homemade or otherwise). I also noticed some of the skewers had been turned into weapons for little boys to pretend swordfight. I wouldn’t have guessed I too had a “toy surprise” with my entree (of course unintentional). Maybe next year the biggest hit atthe pot luck will be cupcakes on sticks…

Anything Kabobs (from The Petit Appetit Cookbook)

These are a versatile and easy dish for lunch or dinner for all ages. There are a variety of vegetables and proteins that can be chosen to fit your family’s taste buds. For vegetarians the tofu kebobs are a good option. For those who eat meat, there’s the chicken option. For a larger quantity and more variety make both chicken and tofu, as they have the same cooking time and will be ready at once.


1 ½ tablespoons natural, low sodium soy sauce (Tamari)
1 ½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon expeller pressed canola oil
1 scallion/chive chopped
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice


9 oz. boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts, cubed (or firm organic tofu, bloated dry and cubed)
8 organic cherry tomatoes
8 organic mushrooms
8 mini organic bell peppers or 1 medium sized bell pepper cut into chunks

(Substitute other vegetables favorites such as baby corn, cut zucchini or broccoli flowerettes)

Whisk all marinade ingredients in a small glass or plastic bowl.

Place chicken (or tofu) in a large glass dish. Pour marinade chicken or tofu. Tofu should marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Chicken should marinate 30 minutes or longer. While waiting for marinade, soak 4 wooden skewers in cold water for at least 30 minutes.

Thread tofu/chicken and vegetables onto skewers, alternating as desired. Place kabobs on a lightly greased cookie sheet or broiler pan, and transfer to a hot grill or to the oven set on broil. Cook 5 – 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through and browned.

Makes 4 kabobs.

Creative serving suggestions:

*Let older children carefully help remove skewers and eat with fingers

*Remove kabob pieces from skewers and arrange in pita bread with greens and favorite spread or dressing

*Remove kabob pieces from skewers and arrange in lettuce pieces. Roll up and secure with toothpick
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
Photo Credit: Lisa Barnes
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Food Additives and Kids (ADD and ADHD)

From Lisa Barnes

I wanted to share this article with those parents who are dealing with children diagnosed with hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder. There are many nutritionists and parents who have written about the effects of diet and specifically eliminating additives and preservatives on children’s behavior and learning abilities. Now there is a study about the role of food additives and how common food additives and colorings can increase hyperactive behavior in a broad range of children. You can read the entire article here in the NY Times. It is certainly a preliminary study, but hopefully one that will raise the discussion of additive warnings, food labeling, and eliminating certain foods containing these additives in schools.

However there is a quote that bothered me…

“Even if it shows some increase in hyperactivity, is it clinically significant and does it impact the child’s life?” said Dr. Thomas Spencer, a specialist in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can’t eat the things that their friends do.”

If you talk to any of these parents who have children with ADHD and they’ve changed the child’s eating habits and thus altered the behavior, they would certainly say it makes not only “an impact on the child’s life” but of that of the whole family. And the idea that children will be ostracized for not eating preservative laden foods?! Is this a doctor suggesting we should all succumb to peer pressure for the risk of our children’s health and well being?!
Also see: Organic foods, nutrition, and health key facts
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
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