Book Review and Giveaway: Getting to Yum – The 7 Secrets to Raising Eager Eaters

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Two years ago I was lucky enough to have Karen Le Billon guest blog about her experience in France, which led her to write her first book, “French Kids Eat Everything.” This time around I jumped at an opportunity to read her latest book, “Getting to Yum: The 7 Secrets to Raising Eager Eaters.” It’s no secret that I’m a fan of cookbooks. But “Getting to Yum” is not just a cookbook for families. It’s a guide for parents who have been trying without success to get their “picky” eaters to eat more veggies and even fruits.

The first half of this book is devoted to hundreds of tips and strategies for the desperate parent.  Karen’s suggestions are simple and easy to follow. I’m lucky to have two boys who do not fight me at mealtime. I follow many of her tips already. For example, I never made two meals at dinnertime (as in one for my son, Charlie, and one for my husband and me). He has always known that he has to eat what is served.

More recently though I have made an exception with leftovers. Charlie just is not a fan of leftovers of even his favorite foods. So sometimes I will fry him an egg instead of whatever day-old protein I offered. But he can never get out of eating something the first time it’s served. Or he goes to bed hungry. Luckily for him, I never had to worry about his weight. My second son is underweight by the charts. He looks great and all other measures are well in the average range, but the doctor has said that little Daniel needs to be on the “butter and burger” diet to get fatter. Daniel is 18 months old and is a fantastic eater (knock on wood). But whenever he gets sick, he stops eating and this spring we’ve had some illnesses. Because of his size, I have to always make sure that he eats at every mealtime and I offer snacks pretty much constantly. When and if he does hit a “picky” stage, I’m going to have to cater to him, but he does have a medical excuse. I’m lucky though because I can and do use Charlie as a “model” when I introduce a new food and it seems to help.

As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve taken infant feeding disorders so I’m aware of the serious side of a reluctance to eat. I would offer that if your child is eating only 10 or 20 foods, you should seek professional medical assistance. I believe that is beyond the label of “picky” and is most definitely in the disordered range. In graduate school I worked in a clinic that offered feeding therapy. I’m not trained in feeding therapy, but when I was able to observe it, I saw amazing changes in kids’ willingness to try and experiment with new textures and food groups.

Karen Le Billon organized the second half of the book into recipes by veggie, fruit, dessert, and then basic recipes for parents to know and prepare. It’s clever and very useful. This book is made to save parents from their children’s food whims, but it will also save dinner! Not to mention it might get your family out of a rut! If you are struggling with a “picky” eater (or two) and there are no medical conditions involved, “Getting to Yum” is designed for you! It’s quite perfect, in fact. I hate to do it, but I’m giving away my copy of the book. Please leave a comment at the end of this post if you would like to be entered in the giveaway. I will choose a random number two weeks from now on June 10th. Good luck!

Getting to Yum Party Pasta

Gotta Go And Get Our Advocacy Back On #SaveSchoolLunch

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Blast from the past: School lunch photo from 2010 from a reader

If you have a moment, would you mind signing a petition? Some members of Congress are attempting to roll back the updated nutrition standards we fought so hard for several years ago.

I’m not sure why this is coming up now. All I know is that more than ever our country needs intact laws to protect our children’s health and wellness at school. I mean, we have only really gotten started changing school lunch and, from what I still see at some schools, we have a long way to go.

If you want some additional information, check out The Lunch Tray’s write-up or what Jamie Oliver has up on his site. Or you can go directly to the petition.

We need Congress to know we are paying attention and we cannot afford to go backward!

5 Food Blogs You Should Be Reading

I have become only an occasional blogger, but I still avidly read blogs. I don’t click around to read them, but instead I get them via RSS, which is quick and efficient. I used Google Reader, but it was shut down. Luckily, I switched my RSS subscriptions over to Feedly. I highly recommend their RSS reader.

What makes a good blog? It starts with a story. I’m a sucker for a good one. Here’s who you should go visit right now:

slowcook1) The Slow Cook

Back in the thick of school lunch reform, I met a fellow reformer in Washington DC, Ed Bruske. Ed is a serious journalist and spent several turns in school kitchens getting the real scoop from lunch ladies. Ultimately, he changed focus from school food reform and instead taught cooking to kids in DC. Like me, we found that entrenched interests in school food made large scale change challenging — and exhausting work for private citizens trying to live life and raise a family.

I kept following his blog as it went into semi-hibernation as he shared occasional posts and recipes related to his work teaching kids to cook.

About a year ago, Ed bought a farm and moved his family to upstate New York. Over the past year he has detailed his progress as a farmer. I should say he’s no spring chicken (Sorry Ed!) — he’s part retired, part career changer. Reading what he has gone through has disabused me of my “farming fantasies.” I think many of us think going into farming is some kind of pastoral heaven. Not so!

I have loved reading along with his misadventures and I expect there will be more interesting stuff as he blogs his life as a farmer!

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2) Appetite

Penny de Los Santos is one of those people you meet who draws you in. I met her at a blogging conference. She’s caring and gregarious — and has an amazing perspective as a food photographer that she shares on her blog. She works for Saveur and National Geographic, among other national publications.

There’s an immediacy in her photos that makes me feel like I’m there with her. I like how many of them have a dark feeling, too. One of the best parts of her blog is the large quantity of thoughtful images paired with few words. Her photography speaks for itself.

Again, her blog went through a fallow period where she didn’t share very much at all. And then all of a sudden she started sharing lots of images all the time.

She just went to Italy, a place I’ve never been. Then she flew to Kentucky. For me, her blog is pure escapism.

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3) Hey What’s For Dinner Mom

I met Laura at a food blogging conference and she’s a force to be reckoned with. I love her big laugh. Coming from Alaska, I imagine you would have to be pretty strong and sure of yourself to manage. She’s also the mother of three boys. Seeing that I’m struggling with just two boys, I can’t even imagine what I would do with three!

I love her creative recipes. She’s so thoughtful. Laura also went through a paleo phase, which was interesting to watch being that I’m gluten free. I think she’s back on wheat, but I love that she plays with food.

Additionally, she blogs about living frugally and their kitchen remodeling, which I think is pretty much finished now. You know, I just like how she thinks.

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4) 5 Second Rule

I shared a cab with Cheryl Sternman Rule back in 2010 when I went to a food blogging conference. I doubt she remembers it, but that was the moment that I heard about her blog and began following along. She has written a book since then entitled Ripe (I don’t own it, but I gave it as a gift to a close friend).

Her blog shares recipes with stories. Stories that make you think. Stories where she shares something humble about living life. It’s obvious she’s insanely talented, but she would never brag. She’s an observer of life. She took a trip to Israel and I thought it was interesting how she described it through food and stories.

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5) 100 Days of Real Food

I met Lisa at a blogging conference before her blog blew up. She came up to me and introduced herself and now I consider her a personal friend. I guess that makes me biased, but I really love what she does. Her blog has just exploded over the past few years. I mean, it has gone viral several times over. I think it’s because of her Facebook page, which I find to be so real and honest. She’s herself, which is why so many people respond to her.

Lisa has a book coming out and it’s going to be huge. The book is going to launch her into the stratosphere and I’m so happy I get to watch it!