Erin Gleeson: Forest Feast for Kids

Erin Gleeson

What makes some kids try new foods and others turn their noses up?

If only we knew!

But maybe, just maybe Erin Gleeson knows.

The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes that are Simple to Make (Abrams 2016) includes three things that might appeal to kids:
First, there are lots of Erin’s photographs of kids eating and making the recipes. Kids are inspired and encouraged by other kids.

Second, there are big, splashy, colorful photographs of the recipes themselves, along with colorful graphics that make following the recipes easy and fun.
Third, the recipes are simple and easy to make, with only a few unfamiliar ingredients. Some made need a grownup, but others are easy enough for some children to make themselves.

Forest Feast for Kids by Erin GleesonStart with a recipe for Edamame Hummus (p. 22). Maybe your kids have already eaten chickpea hummus, or maybe they have munched on edamame in a Japanese restaurant and are curious about this bean – or maybe they want to heat a whole bag of chips, and this is a new thing to go with them. The recipe is easy and only needs an adult if your child is too young to peel garlic. Everything goes into a food processor and is whizzed smooth. It’s easy to copy the photo – with sliced red peppers and cucumbers and a sprinkle of paprika on top of the dip. Once they like edamame, then they can try the Quinoa Edamame Salad (p. 50) that would be super during a heat wave. The humus can become part of a Grilled Cheese Party. Erin lays out the menu in a photo ”spread” called Breads + Spreads Cheeses + Fillings, and a table decked out with all the party goodies.

Trying to get your pasta-loving kids to also love Kale? Curly Kale and Curly Pasta Salad (pp. 44-5) includes pecans, pesto, and chopped scallions. It’s nifty that the kale is cooked during the last minute of the pasta’s cooking (ask your kids: “how do you figure out that the pasta has only one minute left?”). Once they like the Kale, move on to Kale and Black Bean Tacos (pp. 60-1) topped with Greek yogurt and hot sauce. If pizza is the way to your kid’s heart, then Pesto Pepper Pizza (pp. 62-3) or Sweet Potato Pizza (pp. 96-7), both of which use store-bought pizza dough – or teach your kids to make their own.

To finish off, there are plenty of sweet treats on the healthy side of things. You could stay with pizza-like desserts and make Plum Tartlets (pp. 72-3) and let the kids make their own designs with the plum slices, or a free-form Pear Galette (pp. 74-5) that is forgiving for the geometrically challenged! There is also another photo spread for Fruity Ice Cream Sandwich Bar with healthy toppings like fresh fruit, dry fruit, and peanut butter.

The Forest Feast for Kids might not remedy for all picky eating, but it might encourage a bit more exploring and a bit more green, red, yellow, and blue food on your kids’ plates.

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