Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
I posted a little while ago about how much I liked Top 100 Baby Purees when Astrid started solids, and I’ve got a couple more things to say on the subject of cookbooks, so here goes.
After the holiday crash of eating on the fly amidst the wrapping paper and consuming too much sugar, I decided we needed to get back on the bandwagon of a healthy eating. Well, regular eating really. Healthy would be nice too! So I pulled out my stack of kid cookbooks and realized again how crap I think a couple of them are. I know, I know: it’s not nice to be negative. But really, honestly, I’m just trying to help: I researched and bought a couple that just have never worked for me, and I want to save you the trouble. So that’s good new year positivity, right?
First up on the no-go list is the Organic Baby & Toddler Cookbook by Lizzie Vann. I so wanted to like this one because, in general, I love DK Publishing. They have fantastic pictures in all their books (travel guides and kids’ books too) and a British tone of moderation I really like. Sadly, though, I haven’t liked any of the recipes in this cookbook. When I made the first few and they tasted bland and weirdly unbalanced (too much of some ingredients, too little of others), I thought it must be something I did wrong because I’m not really a cook. After a while though, I realized that it’s because I just don’t really like the recipes. They’re not particularly flavorful and they’re not particularly easy to make (number of steps and number of ingredients). So I’m calling it quits. Annabel Karmel’s recipes are just better and easier.
The other cookbook I want to un-recommend is Cooking for Baby by Lisa Barnes. I know cooking for a baby can be daunting for a new mom or a new chef, but really? A recipe for “Baby’s Beef” that has one ingredient? “Lean ground beef, 1/2 lb,” + instructions on how to fry half a pound of ground beef. Really? REALLY? Of course there are other more complex recipes, but I have yet to find any of them appealing, even on the page. Plus: very few pictures. Which is probably understandable, given that half a pound of ground beef just isn’t that photogenic all on its own. The most useful part – the reason I bought it – were the tips pages, like how to make food fun. My first tip? Buy a different cookbook with better recipes.
If you’re looking for a baby/kid cookbook that will cover you for a few years, try Annabel Karmel’s First Meals, which incorporates some of the baby purees from Top 100 Baby Purees plus at least a dozen recipes for each stage after that up to preschool. They all taste good and if one looks too complicated, just skip ahead to the next one.