Recently the Meal Makeover Moms (aka moms and registered dietitians Janice Newell Bissex and Liz Weiss) were nice enough to send me a free copy of their latest cookbook for review. With the excellent title No Whine with Dinner, the book sets out to tackle the problem of the “picky eater,” the child who tempts parents into the dreaded mac-n-cheese-hot-dog-PBJ rut just to get their kid to eat something. (And you all know how I feel about that: see my B4FD post, “Short Order Cooking and the Family Dinner: Back Away from that Peanut Butter Jar!”).
Here’s what the Meal Makeover Moms have to say about their cooking philosophy:
. . . .there are skeptics who believe feeding kids a healthy diet is a lost cause. Others believe that adding pureed vegetables in everything from brownies to the breading on chicken nuggets is the best way to get more nutrition into kids’ diets. Our approach is more optimistic and revolves around the simple premise that kids will eat an array of nutritious foods – colorful fruits and vegetables, hearty whole grains, seafood, and even beans, if — and here’s the catch – they are presented in a way that appeals to their senses. The way a food crunches, how it smells, and the way it looks can make or break a child’s willingness to try it. Presentation is key.
I let my kids thumb through the book and the breakfast and snack sections seemed to get them most excited. Here are photos of some of the many dishes we made. The Peter Pumpkin-Eater Waffles in particular have been a godsend to me — I now regularly make a double batch and freeze them for busy mornings:
(L-R top: Nest Eggs, Peter Pumpkin-Eater Waffles; Chocolaty Pumpkin Bars; Bottom: Pumpkin Pancakes (we were on a crazy pumpkin run, clearly!); a Nest Egg in progress; Apple-icious Oatmeal Bake (my kids didn’t love this dish but I adored it – I’ve made it since just for myself).]
And here’s what my 11-year-old daughter had to say about some of the items we made:
Me: What was your favorite thing we made?
Daughter: I guess I loved the pumpkin waffles the best. They taste great when they come right out of the waffle maker, but you can freeze them, then microwave them up for any morning and they’ll still be delicious! I especially liked them with ginger syrup!
Me: Do you want to say something about some of the other things we ate?
[Nest Eggs] I loved this recipe! Its really good, and you can have it for breakfast or snack, and I love dipping the extra “hole” of bread in olive oil! [The olive oil was my daughter's "gourmet" addition to the recipe.]
[Chocolaty Pumpkin Bars] When I first had these, I thought they were dessert. They’re so good! It would be awesome with nuts.
[Grab-and-Go Granola Bars (not pictured)] At first, I thought these looked like bird food with all the nuts and seeds. but when we added white chocolate chips, they are so amazing! [The recipe called for chocolate chips but I only had white on hand - a big hit, clearly.]
The book totally delivers on its promise of offering lots of streamlined, kid-friendly but nutritious recipes for all meals of the day, as well as snacks, beverages, meatless meals and slow cooker options. And I liked the fact that the Meal Makeover Moms build in solid nutrition with ingredients like wheat germ, flax seeds, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, but they’re also willing to include reasonable amounts of butter, sugar and white flour when called for. The result is a nice balance between kid-acceptability and parent approval.
My only critique – and it’s not really a critique, in the end – is that the dinner entrees seemed targeted to a younger audience in the sense that they go very easy on spices and other potentially challenging flavors. For example, my ethnic-food-obsessed gang might want a little more kick from their pad thai or enchiladas than the book’s recipes provide. But the whole point, of course, is easing less adventurous kids into exploring new dishes, and that’s just what the book does so well.
I want to thank the Meal Makeover Moms for the opportunity to cook from and review the book — and for also providing a free copy to one lucky TLT reader! Just leave a comment on this post — any comment will do – and I’ll use a random number generator at noon CST tomorrow (Wednesday, November 16th) to select the winner.
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