I'm not what you could call a "cookbook connoisseur." Or, how you say? A "cook." But Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Easy, Oragnic Snacks, Beverages, and Party Foods for Kids of All Ages by Lisa Barnes makes we want to be. (And not just for her excellent usage of commas in her book title.)
This is a lovely cookbook that offers a variety of different recipes for kids (and adults) with an emphasis on healthy eating. Seriously, before I'd finished reading page two I was inspired to feed my kids better.
One of the reasons I love this cookbook is because Barnes is so realistic about what kids will eat, not to mention the difficulties involved in preparing food when you have small children underfoot. She acknowledges that not all kids will eat every food and understands that things such as texture, color, and temperature make a huge difference in what children will sample. As a parent of a couple of picky eaters, it was so nice to read a cookbook that didn't simply assume that all kids should eat all foods.
In fact, she partially organizes the book according to textures so you can easily find recipes that appeal to your own picky eater. For example, her Snacks chapter is organized by crunchy, creamy, chewy, salty and spicy, and sweet. Love it!
Each recipe in the book is accompanied by icons that easily identify common things that you would gravitate toward or avoid. These icons are: egg-free, milk-free, gluten-free, nut-free, cook with kids, good for groups/party pleasers, perfect for packing, no cook, no sugar added, wheat-free, vegetarian, vegan, and baby/beginner. Everything about this book is easy to read.
Not to mention that she uses the first 45 pages or so to write about tips for finding healthy foods and the reasoning behind why you would want to. She offers suggestions on waste-free food packing and how kids can help, along with much more. I really respected the fact that although she clearly is in favor of local, organic foods, she freely acknowledges that it is not always possible to use these types of food and lets the reader know that they can substitute other items. This is a healthy cookbook that didn't make me feel judged for not always eating healthy.
So how are the recipes? Because that's really the crux, right?
Well, if it gives you any indication, I dog-eared each page that had a recipe on it that I would like to try. Here is my book now:
I'm going to be busy.
I can't wait to try out many of the recipes in the book. I'm planning on trying out a recipe a couple days a week while my kids are at school so it is ready when they get home and I am not tempted to just hand them a sleeve of crackers for an after-school snack. Not to mention that I have a second-grader who doesn't like sandwiches. So I'll be testing some of her perfect for packing suggestions in his lunchbox.
Some of the recipes are very simple and easy. Some are more complicated. All of them contain nutrition information and contain healthy ingredients.
If you're curious about some of the recipes you might find in this book, check out Barnes' blog in which she posts some of her recipes.
I'm hoping that this book can help change the way my family snacks and eats this year.
Honesty Clause: I received a review copy of Petit Appetit at no charge. It retails for $17.95, but is on sale at Amazon now for $12.21.