By Contributor Amanda Gurall
Jenna Helwig is the Food Editor of Parents magazine and founder of Rosaberry, a culinary company that teaches parents how to cook for their families and provides personal chef services. Full disclosure, she also used to sit in front of me in history class many years ago in Colorado. While I can attest to her academic skills in high school it was not until I read and used her new cookbooks that I learned what an excellent chef and teacher she is today.
Real Baby Food is divided by age into 6-12 months and then 12 months and up, the latter section divided further with foods for wake up time, super snacks and family dinners. I liked this approach which I feel is especially useful for new parents. I remember being unsure of how often my daughter should eat and what to give her, especially as she started solids and I wanted to avoid processed foods. The book is full of good tips and advice on feeding and nutrition, all clearly written and informative with nice design and beautiful photographs.
My children are beyond the age for purees so I skipped right to the family dinners section and let my daughter pick out a recipe to do together. She chose the Tropical Pork Tenderloin which we served with couscous and vegetables. Since she did most of the work I will let Madeleine give her review of the recipe.
“In my head I wanted to shout out the window this is the best pork I’ve ever had! It was incredibly easy to cook even for me and I am just eight. Making it was fun and eating it? Amazing.”
Our whole family agreed with her so the next morning we moved on to Helwig’ssecond book, Smoothie-Licious. We like involving the children in our meal planning so we let them choose which smoothie to try first. They decided on “Bananas for Strawberry-Kiwi”. The book breaks smoothies down into elements: base, fruit,velvet, frost, veggie boost/a touch of sweet. You learn exactly what each of these categories mean, why they are important not just for nutrition but for taste as well and how to put it all together.
There are veggie filled and fruit smoothies as you might expect however there are also holiday flavors like figgy pudding and an April fool’s day “mud” smoothie. There is a section on whole juices as well as an interesting indulgent section with options like cinnamon-caramel apple or Dad’s cereal shake. We will be trying those in the future for sure! I have to admit my smoothie game is pretty lame lately, mine end up consisting of frozen berries, yogurt and some honey so I feel pretty excited about some of these new recipes. We made the banana strawberry and kiwi smoothie which also includes coconut milk and agave nectar which is optional.
The kids absolutely loved it! The addition of kiwi was inspired and the recipe got us to try coconut milk which we will use in future recipes. This was a good stepping off point to try some of the more interesting combinations and my daughter has already earmarked several veggie smoothies to try which made me very happy.
I definitely recommend both of Helwig’s books and hope that she comes out with more in the future. They were both more interesting and better organized than the majority of baby/family cookbooks that I have come across. My daughter is making a list of the recipes from both books that she wants to make next so I already see that we will get a lot of enjoyment from them.
You can learn more about Jenna Helwig and her work at www.jennahelwig.com and www.rosaberry.com as well as in Parents magazine and in food segments on the Today show. You can find her book at bookstores and www.amazon.com and if you live in the NYC area follow her on social media for signings and demonstrations.
I was given copies of both books by the publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for review purposes but as always all opinions are my own.