Tuesday, June 12, 2012

{Book Review} The Healthy Baby Meal Planner

 The Healthy Baby Meal Planner: 200 Quick, Easy, and Healthy Recipes for Your Baby and Toddler

This book has made a great addition to our “baby” cookbooks. The author, Annabel Karmel, shows parents how to make healthy, unprocessed, tasty foods for babies and toddlers. I equally love that many of the recipes for older babies and infants can easily be made for the whole family; this makes dinner time much easier. I like the details of the recipes. Annabel tells exactly how to prepare the ingredients and how to cook/prepare them.

However, I wish this book explained the best way to store each recipe. For example, she explains how to prepare pears, but doesn’t say if they freeze well or are best eaten right away. I tried to freeze them after I cooked them, but they turned brown and yucky looking. I like that there are suggestions for foods that I normally wouldn’t think of feeding my baby (cauliflower, papaya, dried apricots, cantaloupe, parsnip, zucchini, etc). And I like that by incorporating these recipes, my baby will eat a wide range of colors and textures.

 The chapters are laid out very nicely and organized; they start with an introduction explaining the particular stage of feeding, then followed by recipes, and ending with a meal planner. I really like the meal planner part because it shows what kinds of foods Annabel suggests at various times. It is a great thing to follow to add variety to your baby’s diet. I know that before I started using this book, I found myself making the same thing over and over again for my baby and the meal planner really helps me to remember to add variety. Plus, you don’t have to follow it exactly.

I like the size of the book, I like that the pages are thick (I spilled milk on a few and wiped them up and they still look fine), and I think the book is well illustrated.

My baby is still young (almost 8 months) so I try to make many of the foods a head of time and freeze them. I purchased some one ounce silicone ice cube trays and I use these to freeze the food. I think they make a good sized portion that usually isn’t too big so most food doesn’t go to waste; I can always thaw another cube if he is still hungry.

Here is a summary of the chapters:

Chapter 1 is an introduction to food for babies. Annabel discusses nutritional needs of babies, allergies, the importance of breast milk/formula in a baby’s diet, how to prepare baby foods (boiling, baking, freezing, steaming, etc), and high risk foods and when they should be introduced (ie, eggs, honey, soft cheese, nuts, etc).

Chapter two discusses the first foods for babies. I really like that Annabel takes the time to go into details. For example, instead of just saying that first baby food purees need to be thinned with liquid, she adds that acceptable liquids are breast milk, fruit juice, or boiled water. I also really like the tips she includes for helping parents introduce solids. Annabel suggests foods such as apples, pears, bananas, carrots, butternut squash, and papaya as first foods to get babies started. (My baby will not eat carrots though). Then she has more recipes to try after the first foods are accepted such as zucchini, green beans, peas, peaches, cantaloupe, mango, plums, avocado and banana puree, sweet potato and squash puree, and more. Chapter two contains a nice vegetable broth recipe, which is a healthier alternative to store bought broth or bouillon (and super yummy!).

Chapter three is entitled Second Stage Weaning and is for about seven to nine months. I really like this chapter because it showed me how to incorporate more foods and textures into my baby’s diet, such as meat, pasta, and fish. For us, these types of foods were easy to transition to as he never really liked pureed foods unless there were chunks in them because he would gag. This chapter made me realize the importance of fish in a baby’s diet. Recipes in this chapter include things such as yogurt and fruit, lovely lentils, sweet potato spinach & peas, cauliflower cheese, tasty fish with cheese sauce and vegetables, salmon with carrots and tomato, chicken salad puree, braised beef with sweet potato, and more (yum!).

Chapter four is for infants who are about nine to twelve months. I really like this chapter because it is full of recipes that the whole family can enjoy such as: fruity Swiss muesli, apricot apple and pear custard, apple and raisin rice pudding, mini banana muffins, chicken and couscous, and Bolognese sauce with eggplant. This chapter also introduces finger foods and has tasty recipes such as homemade teething biscuits, salmon footballs, healthy fish sticks, chicken and apple balls, and more. I think the food in this chapter seems really fun for babies.

The last chapter is for toddlers and like the previous chapter contains many recipes that are suitable for the whole family such as baked risotto, Spanish omelet, homemade fast food pizza, salmon cakes, fish in creamy mushroom sauce, mild korma curry with shrimp, Thai style chicken and noodles, chicken satay, shredded beef with broccoli, apple crumble, mini cheesecakes, various flavors of ice pops, animal cupcakes, and chocolate cookie squares, just to name a few. The recipes in this chapter are delicious and I appreciate that they are for the whole family. I think that when toddlers need to see their parents eating the same foods they are to help set a good example. Plus eating healthy will benefit the parents as well as the children. I also like that this chapter also gives suggestions for what to do when your toddler refuses to eat.

I like cooking food for my little one from this book and I think you will to!

I received this book for free to review. However, this did not influence my opinions. All opinions are 100% honest.

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