It All Begins with Food: From Baby's First Food to Wholesome Family Meals. Over 120 Delicious Recipes for Clean Eating and Healthy Living - Cookbook Review.
Just a little over a month ago, the nutrifood in me was surprised when I peeked into my mailbox: Food Bloggers of Canada had selected me to receive a copy of "It All Begins with Food" to review it. I'm assuming they picked me, as my niche seems to constantly revolve around children and the parents who love them dearly (is that you?).
"It All Begins with Food" is one of the best introductions to this cookbook. It really shares the viewpoint behind the vision of Leah Garrad-Cole's mantra of healthy living and her company Love Child Organics. Teaching them through my Nutrition Bites business services, this book has given me hope that there are cookbooks out there for the kitchen and not just the coffee table or pristine cabinet. This is a cookbook that will get messy pages fast because you will probably want to use almost every recipe.
Being a nutrition expert myself, I am so happy that the author explains that this is from a mom to a mom. Her expertise is in experience and she has certain views that might not be completely supported by professionals in my field. Leah's views on GMO and understanding of pesticides, as that is what Canadians are asking for. She does a good job of explaining the organic movement but there are points missing that could only come from an education of sciences (nutrition, agriculture, etc.). The repetitive "from a BPA-free can" in the ingredient lists should have been in the introduction in my opinion as more of an education rather than a constant stressor for parents that might not have that option. I realize the health risks involved, so don't misunderstand me. I just think that it is very hard to tell when shopping since those aren't labelled on most products, and could cause a reader to not make the recipe. Being a Professional Home Economist, I am truly aware of what stops the average consumer from cooking at home. Ok, I'm done with the few warnings because the nutrition science nerd wouldn't feel comfortable not ethically pointing these out to the average consumer. It's one think to take with a grain of salt, and with this cookbook, you might really be looking hard to find another grain of it - because it's that healthy!
Let's start from the beginning. The cover looks like natural and "normal" foods including burgers and pizza buns that kids would recognize - bonus! Even the picky eaters will not have many complaints if you cook recipes from this book.
The first 81 pages consist of a guide interlaced with coloured charts, but not the obviously childish bright and primary colours, perfectly styled for the mom in mind (who needs Crayola colours – we are a bit more grown up than that!). The ingredients are well explained but not always available. It does offer a few substitution suggestions in one of the pages of the beginning guide, so be sure to look if you get stuck at home. The chapter titles are simple and colour coded to allow any reader to quickly find what they are looking for. On almost every page are tips and tricks to help too – it’s reminds me of Looneyspoons & Homegrown the Cookbook. One example is providing complimenting foods that might pair well with certain recipes.
From a health perspective, I truly think the modern mom will appreciate the identifying icons with each title makes it easier to identify which are free of wheat, dairy, eggs, etc. I love that she lists key nutrients (but I did not verify them) and she also helps. I highly recommend page 126: The Smooth O Matic graphics spread over two pages is perfect for busy mornings or trying to use up ingredients you already have on hand.
Her values of NOT hiding vegetables in kid foods is something that I would totally support. I suggest parents to try many things before resorting to this tactic. As a recipe developer, myself (I rarely have time in between teaching kids to cook with Nutrition Bites, raising my own growing daughters, and running my new Growing Up Healthy company), I absolutely am in love with her placing a space of every recipe for “Date Tried”. Yet, this cookbook is so pretty I wonder if anyone would write in this gorgeous book – please do and just get a second copy when it becomes illegible or falling apart. I guess based on the quality of cover and pages you will probably get 5-10 years depending on how much you make time for cooking (you should plan it into your schedule at least one day more than you are doing right now!).
The beauty of all the recipes is the simplicity of them that rely on the flavours and colours of food to make them irresistible to try. They are so gorgeous, you start eating you’re your eyes and any adult would be tempted to make most of these recipes for themselves.
The recipes are so kid and family friendly using whole food ingredients that I completely support this cookbook. I encourage many of these simple but flavourful dishes. Working with kids in my business this is definitely a cookbook I will be using and recommending to parents. It could have been a two volume book – one as a guide – one as a cookbook. Her passion for the healthiest options shines through. Her use of nutrient-dense foods is obvious for us in nutrition and she is truly a visionary I can completely identify with. We care about our children, your children and everyone’s daily health through delicious food that is easy to cook at home.