BOOK REVIEW by NORENE GILLETZ  
Superfoods for Babies and Children

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Oh Baby - Let's Eat!

My grandchild Sammy is busy exploring the wonderful world of food. I guess it’s all in the family. His father, my son Doug Gilletz, was professionally trained as a chef and enjoys cooking delicious dishes for his delicious little son. No jars or bottles of processed baby food for Sammy - although he did enjoy his chocolate birthday cake, happily shoving it into his mouth with his chubby little hands!

You can imagine how thrilled I was to receive a copy of Superfoods for Babies and Children by Annabel Karmel (Atria Books, $34.50 Cdn). Annabel, the mother of three, is the author of 14 best-selling books on healthy food for children.

Superfoods for Babies and Children
by
Annabel Karmel

Atria Books (Cdn.$34.50)

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Superfoods is an excellent resource, with more than 130 kid-friendly recipes plus terrific tips on nutrition for each stage of your child’s development. The pictures are whimsical and provide visual aids to enticing eats. Annabel Karmel (www.annabelkarmel.com) knows what children should eat - and what they will eat.

Superfoods are foods that have roles other than supplying the basic components of our diet – carbohydrates, protein and fat. These roles vary from boosting energy and brain power to prevention of illness and repair of damage. Annabel Karmel rates superfoods by color, providing a rainbow of examples including fire-engine red, sunshine yellow, emerald green and dark blue or purple fruits and vegetables. The time to start stocking up with these protective nutrients is in childhood – it can never be too early.

She says “What we feed our children today will determine their future tomorrow. A well-stocked pantry is the best form of preventive medicine known to man.”

Eating by color encourages parents to use foods in tempting combinations. Karmel provides easy instructions for creating balanced meals, with menu charts to help you plan ahead, suggestions for healthy convenience foods to keep on hand and information on allergies and common childhood complaints.

Superfoods for Babies and Children will guide you through your child’s first five years, from first foods for your baby to delicious meals for fussy toddlers. There are creative lunch-box ideas for school children, snack suggestions, scrumptious family meal ideas, plus tips on getting kids into the kitchen to help with meal preparation. Almost all of the recipes can be used or adapted easily by the Kosher cook.

Recipes include Tomato Sauce with Hidden Vegetables, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni, Salmon Teriyaki with Noodles and Rabbit Muffins - fun foods that will appeal to kids of all ages. This book reminds me of the Joy of Cooking, but with a focus on feeding kids fantastic food.

I’m not really sure if I want to pass this cookbook on to my son Doug. He’ll just have to drive down the 401 from Montreal to Toronto with his wife and Sammy to enjoy some of the healthy, fun dishes in Superfoods! I think that’s a super idea, don’t you?

BAKED SWEET POTATO AND CARROT PUREE

From 6 months

Baking sweet potatoes in the oven enhances their naturally sweet taste, so this is a good puree to make if you are making a roast for the rest of the family, as you can just pop the sweet potato into the oven to cook alongside. It is also very tasty without the added carrot.

1 medium sweet potato
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons your baby's usual milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash and dry the sweet potato and prick all over with a fork. Bake in the oven until tender (about 45 minutes). Meanwhile, steam or boil the carrots until tender (about 20 minutes). When the sweet potato is soft, allow to cool down a little, then cut it in half and scoop out the flesh. Puree together with the cooked carrot and the milk.

Alternatively, you can cook the sweet potato in a microwave. Pierce several holes in the potato with a fork. Place on at least two layers of microwave-safe paper towels. Microwave on high for 5 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Let stand for 5 minutes. Peel and puree with the carrot and a little of your baby's usual milk.

Makes 4 portions.

Tip: Sweet potato comes in two varieties: orange-fleshed and creamy-fleshed. Both have red skins and both are good sources of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. However, I prefer to use the orange-fleshed variety, which is also an excellent source of beta-carotene. This helps to prevent certain types of cancer and mops up free radicals.

FINGER-PICKING CHICKEN BALLS

These tasty chicken balls make great finger food.

1 tablespoon light olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated carrot
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated
Two 5-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried (optional)
1/2 cup fresh white bread crumbs
1 chicken bouillon cube, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour for coating
Vegetable oil for frying

Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté half the onion and the grated carrot for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Using your hands, squeeze out a little excess liquid from the grated apple. Mix together the grated apple, chicken and sautéed onion and carrot along with the raw chopped onion, parsley, thyme, bread crumbs and bouillon cube and chop for a few seconds in a food processor. Season with a little salt and pepper.

With your hands, form the mixture into about 20 balls, roll them in flour and fry in a little oil until lightly golden and cooked through (4 to 5 minutes).

Makes 20 balls.

Tip: Chicken is high in protein, low in fat and low in cholesterol. Our bodies require a certain amount of protein each day and the body does not store protein, so we need to replenish it each day. Protein provides the building blocks of all cells.

MINI VEGETABLE BURGERS

These tasty mini burgers in a crispy coating are bursting with fresh vegetables and flavored with Gruyère cheese.

2 medium potatoes (do not peel)
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped broccoli florets
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup washed and finely chopped white part of a leek
1 cup chopped button mushrooms
1 cup frozen or canned corn
1 teaspoon soy sauce
3/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Seasoned all-purpose flour (flour mixed with a little salt and pepper)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
15 mini buns
Lettuce
Ketchup

Cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling water for 25 to 30 minutes, then peel and grate. Meanwhile, melt the butter and sauté the onion for about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli, carrot, leek, and mushrooms, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the grated potato, corn, soy sauce, cheese, parsley, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into 15 mini burgers, coat with flour, dip in the beaten egg, and then dip in the bread crumbs. Dip in the egg once again and then coat with another layer of bread crumbs to make a crispy coating for the burgers. Sauté in a small amount of oil in a skillet until crisp and golden on both sides. Serve on their own or in mini buns with a little lettuce and ketchup.

Makes 15 mini burgers.

Tip: Onions and leeks have a protective action on the circulatory system that helps to prevent blood clots. With children eating more and more junk food, fatty deposits in the arteries can now be found in even the youngest of children, and in later life these deposits may lead to heart disease, as will arterial blood clots. When fat deposits and blood clots break loose and clog the arteries, the result is a heart attack or stroke.

MIXED BERRY AND WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE

Crumb Crust:
8 ounces graham crackers (2½ cups crumbs)
1 stick butter, melted (1/2 cup)
Vegetable oil for greasing pan

Cheesecake:
5 ounces white chocolate
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
1 cup heavy cream (35%)

Topping:
14 ounces mixed summer berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and red currants
2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
2 ounces white chocolate

To make the crust, put the graham crackers in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin; then mix with the melted butter. Press them into the bottom of a lightly oiled 8-inch loose-bottomed tart pan or springform pan (this can be done with a potato masher). Place in the refrigerator to chill.

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat in the cream cheese. Add the vanilla to the cream or, if using a vanilla bean, split it lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds into the cream.

Whip the cream until it forms fairly stiff peaks and gently fold in the cream cheese and white chocolate mixture. Pour on top of the crust and put in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set.

Once the cake is set, carefully remove from the pan. Arrange the berries on top of the cake. Heat the jam with 2 teaspoons of water and strain through a sieve. Allow to cool for about 1 minute and gently brush over the fruits. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the top of the fruits with a teaspoon.

Makes 8 portions.

Tip: Summer berries are packed with vitamin C, which helps to strengthen the immune system and fight infection. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron.

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