Two New Books Worth Checking Out: Bite This! and The Pantry Principle

One of the nicest perks of writing this blog is being contacted by authors to read and review their books.  I can’t always get to everyone’s book — my nightstand stack is about to fall over! — but I do love sharing what I’ve read with you here.

Today I want to tell you about two new books to help you navigate today’s tricky food environment, both for yourself and your kids.

bite thisThe first is Bite This! Your Family Can Escape the Junk Food Jungle and Obesity Epidemic.  This eBook was written by three New York City parents, one of whom, Katherine Weber, I had the pleasure of meeting at last month’s Family Dinner Conference.

The authors’ description of the book — “If Vicki Iovine’s Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy had a one night stand with Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, this would be their love child.” – is spot on.  It’s a funny, irreverent and entirely practical guide to feeding kids well even when the world seems intent on thwarting this goal.  You’ll find solid advice on navigating the supermarket, easy ideas for meals and snacks, and strategies for dealing with all those well meaning people (grandparents, teachers, sports coaches and more) who offer our kids junk food.

I was particularly taken with the section entitled “Our House Sucks,” which addresses kids’ embarrassment when other kids come over and are looking for junk food.  This is a real problem I and other health-conscious parents have experienced, but not one I’ve seen addressed in other advice books.  A typically humorous excerpt:


It was nothing any of our children ever came out and said. Worse, it was the looks in their eyes as their hearts dropped to their toes every time a friend was over and they had to open the pantry or fridge only to display whole-wheat crackers, raisins, and spelt pretzels. How they squirmed when they saw their guests’ eyes as they searched endlessly and uselessly for a bag of Doritos or a box of Oreos. No. Our children remained silent. But we saw those looks exchanged, and each of us, in our own way, knew we had to deal with it. Each of us looked down the dark abyss of the future we saw for our kids: no sleepovers at our house, no being invited to birthday parties because what if our gifts were as lame as our snacks … it was a small leap from there to dateless prom nights.

Bite This! assumes you’re a bit of a novice when it comes to feeding kids well, so some of the advice (e.g., scrutinizing product labels) may be familiar to TLT readers.  But for a mere $2.99, I think every parent will find many useful tidbits to make their lives a little easier.  You can find the eBook for the Kindle here and for the Nook here.

The second book I wanted to tell you about is The Pantry Principle from Mira Dessy, the Certified Nutrition Educator and realpantry principle food advocate behind the blog Grains and More.  Mira has written a very comprehensive guide to understanding food labels and the often-mysterious ingredients one finds on them.

I actually regard this book as a perfect companion piece to Melanie Warner’s Pandora’s Lunchbox (my recent interview with Melanie Warner here.)  Whereas Warner gives readers an in-depth understanding of why and how food additives are used, Mira Dessy tells readers whether one should eat particular additives and/or why they should be avoided.  You’ll learn about fats, sweeteners, food dyes, GMOs, preservatives and more.  But Dessy doesn’t just tell you what not to eat; she also provides tips on stocking a healthful pantry and many recipes for additive-free versions of your favorite foods.

You can buy The Pantry Principle on Amazon here.

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  1. says

    I had to laugh at the “Our House Sucks” title! The biggest complaint at our house is that we never have “good” cereal. I guess it’s also true that you can’t find Oreos or Doritos in my pantry, but my kids realize its futile to ask for that! Still, our house is known for being a good place to have dinner and kids clamor to be invited over. Parents always ask me “How did you get Jonny to eat that?” but of course he/she just ate the good food offerred.

  2. Katherine Weber says

    I’m one of the co-authors of Bite This! – thank you very much Bettina for the review! Re Grace, I think about this issue a lot as my kids are middle schoolers, and I absolutely want our house to be known as a go-to destination for them and their friends. We’re not luring them with junk food, but hopefully we can lure them with interesting home cooking and fun meals – which might be relatively rare experience for teens these days? We have to up our game, however – frozen pizza won’t cut it, but seafood risotto sounds pretty good.

  3. Erika says

    Grace – I’d love to hear the types of dinners you make that your kids’ friends love! I really don’t have many dinners that I make for my family that I can imagine a friend enjoying. Every time we’ve had a friend over & they ended up staying for dinner (and it doesn’t happen often as I’m intimidated by it!) I have had to make something different for them ie mushroom & beef tacos with avocado I had to make my daughters friend just a plain quesadilla as she wouldn’t try either the ground beef, mushrooms or avocados! I’d love to have an arsenal of recipes to make that are healthy but not “too weird” for other kids!

  4. says

    I don’t make special meals to lure or win over the teens or littler ones….but we do always have dinner and if someone is here, I invite them to stay. I think the friends like that there is a regular dinner time and that we all sit together–I think that’s the draw as strange as it sounds. I don’t typically make anything different for the guest, unless he/she is a vegetarian or has allergies. (I don’t ask his/her opinion, I just put out a plate!) Big hits have actually been pretty simple: stir-fry, fried rice feeds a big crowd, and one kid talked about our roast chicken for years as if it was the best food he ever ate! Many parents have wondered how I got their kids to eat X or Y. I usually report truthfully, I didn’t say anything, but since my kids were eating it, so did your child. That’s the kind of peer pressure we want!.

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