We've rounded up our favorite new books on food for families, including some great cookbooks for everyone from busy moms to picky eaters, the latest nutrition guides for parents, and go-to guides full of fun recipes kids are sure to love.
When it comes to mixing kids and food—not to mention all that the latter entails, from worries about allergies to obesity—most of us are pretty mystified. Raising a healthy eater in the age of mixed messages is no easy task, but the best defense is a good offense. Stock your shelves with these family-focused cookbooks and nutritional guides, all published within the last year, to stay in the know about child nutrition—and get some great dinner ideas!
Created by the editors of Kiwi magazine, a national parenting magazine about natural and organic living, Allergy-Friendly Food for Families is a cookbook full of safe and creative allergy-free recipes that aim to make cooking more fun and less stressful for those with food allergies. The book marks each recipe with color-coded allergy-free tabs (i.e. gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soy-free) so it’s easy to navigate for your specific needs. Nutrition facts are also included with each recipe, along with serving, storing, and substitution advice. Between the recipes, you’ll find useful tips on everything from spotting a food allergy to packing a greener lunch. If your child has a food allergy (more than 12 million Americans do, and that number is on the rise), this family-focused cookbook is sure to bring some comfort to your meal planning. (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2012; $24.99)
Expert Advice (and Laughs)
“If you have ever asked yourself just how you are supposed to apply all the latest dietary directives to your family’s everyday life when your child recoils at the slightest hint of something green on her plate or had a hard time even figuring out how to get dinner on the table in the first place, then this is definitely the book for you.” So begins the second edition of Food Fights: Winning the Nutritional Challenges of Parenthood Armed with Insight, Humor, and a Bottle of Ketchup, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Written by Laura Jana, M.D., FAAP and Jennifer Shu, M.D., FAAP both of whom are moms and pediatricians, the book is a surprisingly pleasant read (who says doctors can’t be witty?) that combines the latest science in nutrition and pediatrics with the practical insight of parents who have been there, done that. Entertaining and comprehensive, the book helps you guide your child to healthy eating habits through practical advice on everything from starting on solid foods to eating out, plus includes an index of healthy recipes and helpful resources. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012; $14.95)
While They Were Sleeping…
Becoming a parent doesn’t mean you lose your taste buds. In The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life, author and Connecticut mom Kelsey Banfield shares the recipes she invented during her daughter’s naps. A self-proclaimed foodie, Banfield realized soon after her daughter’s birth that she would need to reinvent her cooking style to account for the decreased time she had to spend in the kitchen. The Naptime Chef is all about fitting tasty meals into a busy schedule and saving time without compromising taste (see: strawberries and cream overnight French toast, and baked gnocchi with roasted eggplant and mozzarella). Recipes are broken into sections—from “Morning Foods” to “Desserts”—and each includes a Naptime Stopwatch that helps you plan for prep time and cook time while your little one snoozes. For more from Banfield on how to fit great food into family life, visit her blog, thenaptimechef.com. (Running Press, 2012; $23)
Play with Your Food!
For the past 50 years, NYC dad Bill Wurtzel has been making fun and artistic breakfasts for his wife and kids, and now he’s sharing them with you. Wurtzel and his wife Claire, now grandparents who recently launched healthy breakfast workshops in several NYC schools, published Funny Food: 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfasts earlier this year. The book includes colorful photos of edible art that uses eggs, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, fruit, toast, and other breakfast basics. Readers are encouraged to mimic Wurtzel’s plates or use them as inspiration to create their own. Scattered throughout the book are interesting facts, fun ideas, and healthy tips to get your kids excited about the most important meal of the day. (Welcome Books, 2012; $19.95)
A Modern Nanny’s Mantra
Celebrity nanny Barbara Rodriguez has been called a modern Mary Poppins, but you won’t catch her singing “A Spoon Full of Sugar.” Rodriguez’s new book, The Organic Nanny’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids, is a natural lifestyle how-to guide for parents that includes everything from kid-friendly recipes to tips on teaching children to care for the environment. The book centers on the idea that what children eat affects both their health and behavior, and it’s chapters offer advice on eating and living more holistically to combat the rising rates of chronic health and behavior issues like childhood obesity and ADHD. There are also sections on how to detoxify a home, create natural remedies, and a “makeover” section just for moms. (Lifelong Books, 2012; $16)
The Teen Leading the Charge
When then-10-year-old Marshall Reid decided he didn’t want to be overweight anymore, he pitched an idea to his family: to be conscious of what they were eating by following six easy steps for one month. Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family, written by Marshall and mom Alexandra, follows the Reid family for that month-long period in 2009 and suggests some healthy recipes and ideas for any family who wants to get healthy together. “When Marshall told me that he wanted to try something new, try to get healthier, I knew I wanted to support him however I could,” Alexandra says. “Our family needed to slow down [and] focus on each other, on our bodies, and our health. The fast-paced do-it-all lifestyle was doing us in and it was time to change.” The Reids are now working to turn their experiences and advice into a national healthy-eating campaign; visit portionsize.me for details. (Sourcebooks, 2012; $16.99)
For Finicky Foodies
When you’ve got a picky eater on your hands, the dinner table can sometimes feel more like a war zone. In The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution, author Elizabeth Pantley shares tricks, tips, and recipes to ease the tension between your child and his vegetables and ensure that your little one doesn’t live off a strict diet of pasta and chicken fingers any longer. A mom of four, Pantley draws from her own experiences and presents parents with a gentle approach to help end mealtime frustration. This book is one of seven in her No-Cry series; get more details on the author and series at pantley.com/elizabeth. (McGraw-Hill, 2011 paperback; $17)
Big Ideas if You’re Short on Time
The Little Big Cookbook for Moms is exactly what its title suggests: a handy little guide packed with a ton of great family recipes. That’s 250 recipes, to be exact, plus more than 100 recipe variations, including a section for families with food sensitivities (think gluten-free and dairy-free). Among the book’s vintage-illustrated pages, you’ll also find shopping lists, suggested menus, and useful advice tailored to busy moms, from lunch bag safety to tips on buying organic produce and notes on how to stretch one recipe into multiple meals. Co-authors Alice Wong and Natasha Tabori Fried, both NYC moms and veterans of the cookbook scene, bill this little book as a great go-to for moms who may need a little confidence boost in the kitchen. (Welcome Books, 2012; $24.95)
Nutrition, in a Nutshell
At just under 400 pages, it might exceed the term “nutshell.” But if you have a question about your child’s diet or nutritional needs, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find the answer in the second edition of Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know. Published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the major professional association of pediatricians in the U.S., this guide spans birth to adolescence and covers everything from allergies to eating disorders to what to do when Grandma wants to feed your sweeties a few too many cookies. (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011; $14.95)
What About Mom?
Along with a bundle of joy, a newborn also brings a lack of sleep, new struggles with time management, and the acceptance of the baby weight you put on during pregnancy—or not! In the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too by Debbie Koeing, the author shares her healthy recipes that save parents the time, energy, and stress that come with juggling time-consuming meal-making with the schedules of their infants and toddlers. These mom-tested recipes not only satisfy the grown-up bellies at the dinner table, but each recipe includes a “Make Baby Food” section that helps you make the meal work for babies who are beginning solids. Sections include nap-time recipes, one-hand meals, Slower Cooker dishes, and nutritious recipes to support moms who are breastfeeding. For more on the author, visit debbiekoeing.com. (Harper Collins, 2012; $16.99)
Advice from a Mum Across the Pond
If you’re like most parents, you want to make food fun and healthy for your kids, but you may not know exactly what you need in your kitchen to achieve this tricky balance. In Favorite Family Meals, the UK-based bestselling author of 17 books on children’s food and nutrition (and a mother of three herself), Annabel Karmel, presents a cookbook packed with shopping lists, recipe ideas, and practical advice—in short, all of the ingredients for a successful kitchen. You’ll find smart and simple ideas for nutritious family meals along with quick tips on lunchbox foods and homemade frozen dinners that fit easily into a busy parent’s schedule. Your copy will be justly dog-eared and food-splattered in no time. (Atria Books, 2012; $22)
Many parents find themselves heating up microwave meals for their families on busy days and feeling guilty about it, but with Missy Chase Lapine’s new book, The Speedy Sneaky Chef, you’ll have all the tools to cook a quick and nutritious meal instead. Lapine, a Westchester-based mom of two who serves as a member of Parenting magazine’s team of experts, is famous for her recipes that help parents “sneak” healthy foods like beets and Brussels sprouts into the meals of unassuming kids. With shopping lists, make-ahead recipes, and many quick-fix ideas for the foods you already cook, Lapine’s newest book in the Sneaky Chef series has a wealth of information on how to make your family’s favorite packaged foods more nutritious and delicious. (Running Press, 2012; $20)
Bye, Bye, Gluten!
If you or someone in your family has a gluten intolerance, or if there’s another reason you’re transitioning your family to a gluten-free diet, Elisabeth Hasselbeck’s newest book, Deliciously G-Free, is a good place to get started. The cookbook includes 100 recipes for meals like spaghetti and meatballs, waffles, burgers, and even cupcakes. Besides creative ideas for gluten-free family dinners, you’ll also find foods specifically tailored to transitioning kids to a gluten-free diet. Known best as one of the co-hosts on The View, Hasselbeck is a mom of three living with celiac disease. Deliciously G-Free is a family-focused follow-up to her first book, The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. (Ballantine Books, 2012; $30)
Simple, Healthy, and Kid-Friendly
The staff at Parents magazine know all about how important good food is for growing bodies. In Parents Quick & Easy Kid-Friendly Meals, the editors offer more than 100 simple, healthy recipes for every meal of the day and the snacks in between. The book is based on the expert advice of America's foremost childcare experts and includes tips on feeding picky eaters, fun ways to introduce your kids to cooking and kitchen prep, and easy instructions to prepare nutritious family meals. Many recipes have fun names kids will appreciate, like Nutty Noodles and Pear-Bear Muffins. Buy the cookbook and you'll also receive a free subscription to Parents magazine. (Wiley, 2012; $19.99)