Books Reviewed – Calling Parents and Geeks

I’ve been getting a steady stream of books and a few have stood out in terms of offering some good information, while also having recipes as well.  I wouldn’t call them cookbooks, but they are informative books about food.

Beter Food for Kids by Joanne Saab, RD and Daina Kalnins, MSC, RD (of Canada;s Hospital for Sick Children) is rich with information about nutrition for kids ages 2 to 10.  There’s everything from reading food labels, to how much vitamins and nutrients are in which foods, to food allergies and safe food handling practices.  This book also has quite a few recipes (over 200) for snacks, and mealtimes throughout the day.  The quinoa with broccoli and chocolate chip squares were well received at my house.  Note: The health standards are Canadian, not American.

Pros: Lots of quick and easy recipes and nutritional info for each.  Most information is presented clearly with helpful charts.  Great for parents with children with nutrition issues, and those who want a real guide about vitamins and nutrients.  I’m a sucker for books that advocate healthy eating habits for kids.

Cons: Dissappointed the book does not advocate for organics and takes a government line that food manufacturers are honest (“Manufacturers of food products cannot make claims about their products unless they are proven to be true” – maybe this is true in Canada, but not in the US).

Cooking for Geeks by Jeff Potter is a for those who want to know the how’s and why’s about food and cooking.  This is for someone who wants to go outside a recipe and create their own combinations, experiements and inventions in the kitchen.  Want to know the physiology of taste and smell?  Want to know the temperature when sugar carmelizes?  Anyone for molecular gastromomy?

Pros: Good for those with food science questions, who need more info than a cookbook.  Lots of recipes as examples to tips and experiments to test your new knowledge (and make good food).  Interesting interviews with food experts in many fields.  Good reference to have on hand, if have food question.

Cons: Not for everyone.  Small print and lots (sometimes too much) of information.  Wish the pictures were sometimes bigger or in color to stand out.  For this type of book, I prefer the simple layout and presentation of Harold McGee’s, On Food and Cooking.

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Sick Child? Guest Blog; Best Foods To Give During Recovery

This guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills, she writes on the topic of Physical Therapy Assistant Schools . She welcomes your comments at her email id: shannonwills23@gmail.com

The Best Foods for Your Child during Recovery from an Illness

It’s not an easy time when your child is ill or just recovering after an illness or disease. You’re stressed out from praying that their illness does not worsen and from caring for them when they’re down and out. But once your doctor certifies that your child is well on the way to recovery, you start to focus on how you can help speed up their journey to good health. Your child would have lost both strength and nutrition because of their illness, and your prime task is to ensure that they’re given the right kind of food to get them back to normal and fortify and strengthen their frail bodies.

Ask your doctor what you can and cannot feed your child because every illness has specific recovery rules. In general however, it’s best to:

  • Stick to foods that digest easily: Your child’s digestive system is delicate after an illness, especially if the illness was a prolonged one. So cook foods that are easy for them to digest and nutritious as well. Also, if your child is a fussy eater, make dishes that they enjoy instead of forcing them to eat foods that they don’t like. Come up with new recipes that look and taste good so that they’re tempted to eat and bolster their health.  
  • Give them plenty of fluids: Fluids are good when your child is recovering from an illness. If your child refuses to eat, soups and consommés are a good way to keep their strength up and provide them with nutrition. Ensure that they stay hydrated with water and fresh fruit juices.
  • Stay away from dairy products: Most parents think that milk is a necessity for their children to ensure nutrition and calcium. But when they’re recovering from an illness, it’s best to avoid dairy products because they’re gassy and hard to digest. 
  • Avoid fatty foods: Children love fast food like French fries and burgers, but when they’re just getting over an illness, it’s best to stick to home-cooked food that is wholesome and free of fat. Don’t allow them to indulge in chocolates and candy, eat salty and fried snacks, or fill up on aerated soft drinks that are loaded with sugar. Coax them into eating healthy fruits and vegetables and other food that is nutritious and healthy.

If your child has special needs and has to avoid certain food groups, consult your doctor for the best post recovery foods.

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A Visit to Nana’s Garden

I’m so proud of my parents.  My mom asked her gardener to pull up some lawn in their backyard and plant a vegetable garden.  Mind you it’s not that big – about 5 x 8, but there’s lot’s growing.  They’re growing tomatoes, carrots, squash, cucumber, peas and radishes.  Yes, lots and lots of radishes.

My mom was so excited to show my kids the garden on our visit last week.  And the kids had a great time watering the plants, and pulling up those radishes.  We also had them on salads and sliced them with butter and salt. 

My son shared a song with his grandparents he learned at school about growing a garden.  It’s so sweet and goes like this…

In by inch, row by row,

gtta make this garden grow.

All you need is a rake and a hoe,

and a piece of furtile ground.

Inch by inch, row by row,

someone bless these seeds I sow,

some one warm and from below,

til’ the rain comes tumbling down.

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Kid’s Cupcakes – “The Best Ever” (Organic Recipe)

From Lisa Barnes

So last year’s cupcake trials for my son’s birthday did not come out great, as you can read. However I was determined to make him proud this year with a yummy recipe since once again he wanted cupcakes. His sister just had a yummy cake a few weeks prior, so the pressure was on. This year I was ready as I’ve been testing them for client requests and my next book.

This recipe was very well received at home, as my husband and son said “these are the best ever!” But they were also a hit at my son’s preschool. We even turned the cupcake celebration into an activity for the kids. I made the cupcakes and brought in fresh whipped cream, blueberries, strawberries and sprinkles for the children to frost and decorate their own. We had a great time. Of course I did not anticipate the use, make that overuse of sprinkles. I only brought one color but the teacher had a few left-over from Valentine’s. As you can see by the picture above, they all have personality and are unique masterpieces – like the children themselves.

Better Brownie Cupcakes

I call these cupcakes “better” because they are better for you than the usual chocolate cupcakes found at the grocer or bakery. And children (or adults) won’t believe these are wheat-free. Who knew potato flour, brown rice flour, and oat bran could make such a yummy brownie dessert? As my husband says “It still has chocolate in it. Anything tastes good with chocolate.” These are great for packing and sharing as they do not need any frosting so are less messy and easy to tote.

Makes 9 standard-size cupcakes or 18 mini cupcakes (can be doubled)

6 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
4 ounces (1/2 cup) organic semisweet chocolate, chips or chopped
½ cup evaporated cane juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large cage-free organic eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup brown rice flour
2 teaspoons potato flour
¼ cup oat bran

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 standard muffin cups or 18 mini muffin cups with paper liners.

In a double broiler or microwave, melt butter and chocolate together until smooth and combined. Remove from heat and let cool.

Stir evaporated cane juice, salt, eggs, and vanilla into chocolate mixture. Mix well then stir in rice flour, potato flour, and bran. Scoop by tablespoonful into muffin cups (about ¼ cup for standard muffins and 2 tablespoons for mini).

Bake for 18 minutes for standard muffins and 12 minutes for mini, until puffed but gooey in center. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in the refrigerator for fudge-like texture.
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See also Greg’s Recipes For Kids – Organic Whole Wheat Bread and Chocolate Cookies
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler, and Williams-Sonoma: Cooking For Baby, and lives in Sausalito, California.
Images Credit: Lisa Barnes
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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She Takes The Cake (with Organic Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe For Kids)

From Lisa Barnes

So if you read my blog this time last year you’ll be reminded that both my children’s birthdays are in July. Last year was the quest for the perfect cupcake. I had some success and some failures. This year as it approached my daughter’s birthday I asked her what she wanted to choose for her special dinner. She said Thai food. Yes, she is quite decisive and specific for a newly turned two year old. We made plans to go to a new favorite Thai Restaurant without any problems.

Then I asked about the dessert (or as she pronounces “dirt”). I was kind of cringing at the cupcake request, but I lucked out and she said chocolate cake. My husband was happy too as he quickly said how about the flourless chocolate cake. This is such a quick and easy (yet very rich) cake. The recipe is from Gourmet Everyday. I felt a bit guilty since it would not have frosting (just too over the top) so I decorated with powdered sugar. Instead of a simple dusting or using a pre-made stencil, I thought of a way the kids could help. Remember making snowflakes out of paper? I folded a piece of wax paper (careful not to crease) and my son and I used the scissors to cut shapes. When we unfolded it we placed our own snowflake stencil on top and sprinkled the confectioner’s sugar over the cuts. Voila!

My daughter didn’t really notice the decoration. She liked seeing the candle and loved eating the cake.

4 oz. fine quality bittersweet chocolate (I use at least 65% cacao), chopped into pieces
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted organic butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large cage free organic eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 375°F and butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper and butter paper.

Melt chocolate with butter in a double boiler (or microwave) and stir until smooth. Whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Whisk in eggs. Sift cocoa powder over chocolate and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in middle of oven for 25 minutes or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool in pan on rack for 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

To serve, dust with powdered sugar as explained above or sprinkle with cocoa. Goes great with a scoop of  vanilla ice cream.
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See also Lisa’s Easy, Creative Organic Dips For Kids Recipes
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Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook: Easy, Organic Recipes to Nurture Your Baby and Toddler and lives in Sausalito, California.
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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More Wheat Berries Please! (with Organic Wheat Berry and Citrus Dressing Salad)

wheat berries

From Lisa Barnes

I like to experiment with various grains – amaranth, quinoa, couscous, millet (not my favorite) and now wheat berries. I didn’t do much with them because I think they’ll take too long to cook. True some recipes ask for an overnight soak as well as an hour of cooking time. But the recipe below uses the wheat berries al dente – with a bit of texture and crunch. I believe it’s this crunch that makes my son enjoy this salad.

When I was first recipe testing the wheat berries my son wasn’t very interested in trying. However once he knew they weren’t mushy, but actually crunchy – he dug right in and even asked for seconds. My daughter likes them too… although there is a bit of a mess (but better than when I make couscous) under my daughter’s chair. Her pajamas are usually peppered with the little grains.

This salad is good for a family get-together or pot luck, as it will feed 6 – 8 people and can be made ahead. Wheat Berries are high in protein as well as iron and fiber – but there’s no need to tell people it’s good for them.

Organic Wheat Berry and Citrus Dressing Salad

For those children that like crunch wheat berries are an interesting nutty and plump option. They can be enjoyed hot or cold and with just about any dressing, veggies or nuts. Wheat berries can be found in natural food stores and organic markets in the bulk cereal and grain section.

Makes 6 cups

2 cups organic wheat berries, rinsed
6 cups water
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
½ cup organic grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ cup Kalamata olives, sliced
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Dressing:
Grated zest of one organic lemon, about 2 teaspoons
Juice of one organic orange, about 1/3 cup
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
2 tablespoon minced green onions
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine wheat berries, water and salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cover until plump and chewy, about 1 hour. Wheat berries will still be al dente. Drain into a serving bowl.

In a small bowl whisk together, juices and zest and onion. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add prepared tomatoes, olives and cheese to serving bowl of wheat berries and stir with serving spoon. Drizzle dressing over wheat berries and toss to coat.

Go Green! While lemon is not on the “dirty dozen” list as potentially harmful, we’ve suggested organic because we’re using the zest (outside peel where pesticides can be heavy)

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See also Lisa’s Why Organic For Kids?
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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: Grains of Winter Wheat © Alexander Ryabchun | Dreamstime.com
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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Popeye Puree (Organic Spinach For Kids Recipe)

popeye

From Lisa Barnes

Today’s children probably don’t even know Popeye, but most adults remember him fondly chugging those cans of spinach. No wonder everyone thinks spinach is wet, gray, and tasteless. Here’s the real deal—very sweet and packed with vitamins.

Makes 12 to 14 (1-ounce) servings

1 bunch organic spinach, or 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen organic spinach

Separate leaves and trim from stalks. To clean spinach of all the sand and grit, fill a sink or large basin with lukewarm water. Plunge leaves into sink and swish under water. The silt and sand will sink to the bottom, leaving you with clean leaves.

Steamer Method: Place spinach leaves in a steamer basket set in a pot filled with about 1 to 2 inches of lightly boiling water. Do not let water touch spinach. Cover tightly for best nutrient retention and steam for 2 to 3 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and bright green. Rinse spinach in cold water to stop cooking.

Puree spinach in a food processor. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of cooking liquid to make the puree smoother and adjust consistency.

Microwave Method: Place spinach in a microwave-safe dish. Add 2 tablespoons water and cover tightly, allowing a corner to vent. Microwave on high for 1 minute and stir spinach. Re-cover and cook for 1 minute, or until wilted and bright. Cool spinach and proceed with directions above.
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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: Wikipedia Commons
OrganicToBe.org | OrganicToGo.com
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