Add as bookmark

Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook - easy recipes for natural food

by Lizzie Vann

listed in organic food

[Image: Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook - easy recipes for natural food]

Before I read this book for review I though I was quite a good mother. I have two children: A boy of four called Marcus and a baby girl of one called Esme. Neither of my children was particularly partial to Organix baby jars (Lizzie Vann is the founder of the company), so I had rather mixed expectations as to how well they would be received. We decided to live organically for one whole week, eat nothing but nutritious healthy food from the book with no cheating!

Upon opening the book, you are first lectured on the relative merits and demerits of organic versus cheap food. I did feel slightly patronized and found myself rebelling against Lizzie Vann. However, this was mainly because everything she said was right, even though I didn't want her to be, which in turn led to an awful bout of guilt and ringing of hands about the rubbish I'd been whizzing in my Braun!

The reader is then taken on a magical mystery tour of delicious sounding food, FAR too good for children, which is both affordable and available. The recipes are easy to follow and incredibly imaginative. More photos of the finished product would have been much more helpful than arty close ups of adorable children happily tucking into their gourmet repast (especially if you aren't really a recipe books kind of person and rely on pictures and guesswork). The 'happily tucking into' bit is also a bit misleading with some of the more adventurous dishes - the reaction to the Pumpkin Stew-in-a-Pot was something only video could accurately capture! Marcus tried hard to pretend that he'd eaten some of it in the hope of getting something tasty and sweet for afters, but even whilst attempting to get Esme to eat some of it, I could see he was dropping it on the kitchen floor!

It took over two hours to cook, and quite a bit of faffing. Any would-be organic home cooking converts who have to do a day in the office first might prefer to try this one on the weekend. (And then not cook anything for themselves later on, seeing as they will have plenty of left overs!) I have to say though, it was absolutely delicious and will be featuring in my dinner party menu with some wild rice and a nice muscadet!

The absolute revelation was that Esme LOVED houmous! Previous to reading this book I had assumed that all children thought houmous was poisonous (the way we stopped Marcus from eating Crunchy Nut Cornflakes on holiday was to tell him they tasted of the stuff!). The other, lesser revelation was that 10-15 month olds can eat things that haven't been pre-chewed by a food processor to some extent. Seeing Esme demolish by hand the Mini Meatballs in Herby Tomato Sauce and Broccoli on page 72 was quite something! (So was the amount of it she ended up wearing). The Organic Baby and Toddler cookbook contains recipes that are designed to stretch parents' imagination and children's tastes. I've lost count of the number of times I have said, "God, they won't like that" (and then they have) or "what, avocado (for example) for a CHILD?" to see it wolfed down. There are plenty of brilliant ideas for tasty treats and sweet stuff that won't rot their teeth or leave them pinned to the ceiling. Even Marcus' non healthy eating little friends were persuaded to eat real food, something I've never quite achieved before and usually resort down the pasta 'n' pesto route.

The presentation is wonderful - at the bottom of every page there is a helpful idea along with advice on quantity, allergy information, storage, preparation time and nutritional value. There are lots of pictures of the food, just not on every page. They look stunning from an artistic point of view, even if they will not help the chef one iota! However, if the pictures encourage people to buy this book and start making healthier choices for their children, it's a price worth paying.

This book is rammed full of information from Lizzie Vann who is clearly passionate about educating parents and coaxing children away from orange rubbish. There's a seasonal produce guide, sections on allergies, nutrition for vegetarians, pregnancy and breastfeeding, and my own favourite: A menu planner for all the meals for five whole days! Fantastic. There really is no excuse for not doing it. You can easily select recipes that take no longer than grilling a couple of fishfingers and shoving a bit of broccoli in the microwave, which previously was about my limit in cooking for the ungrateful ones. I can't pretend that they liked all the recipes, but there are lots of alternatives to the rubbish favourites, like chicken dippers made with REAL CHICKEN. (If you have never looked on the ingredients list of a packet of chicken nuggets, you really must. It reads like a chemistry book and only features about 50% chicken related product - unless you've picked up the 'Value' version, they're about 30%). These went down rather better with picky Marcus than the more esoteric dishes. My experience was that Esme the one-year-old was much more open to new and exciting flavours. Big brother was much more pedestrian in his tastes, having been indoctrinated into the ways of the school dinner. We shall persevere!

Breakfast, always a rather rushed affair during the week, will remain the preserve of healthy but from a packet cereal. The recipes in this book are for babies and are available in ready made version from Organix. I found a basic puree of peaches and bananas mixed up with baby rice was very easy as you can freeze them in ice cube trays and microwave a couple while you make a cup of tea.

I would recommend this book to any parent, whatever their income or status. Even if you don't use organic everything, fresh local produce is going to be of greater nutritional value than the pre-packed alternative. Once you get into the routine of cooking for your children, it's not that bad - especially once you know what you're doing and don't have to refer back to the book all the time. The enjoyment of food is one of the best things in the whole wide world, and to endow your children with appreciation of the rich variety available to us now is a gift worth giving. You also feel the warm glow of your halo as you know you are doing the best for your child. Some days anyway!The sooner you buy this book and treat it as your bible, the better.

Gay Darke
Dorling Kindersley
0 7513 2907 X

top of the page