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Cookbook reviews: 2 cookbooks share healthy recipes for children
Smiley Face Cookies from "My First Baking Book" is by Becky Johnson. - photo by Jennifer Lambert
These books share healthy foods for children including a few they can help with.


"MY FIRST BAKING BOOK: 50 Recipes for Kids to Make and Eat," by Becky Johnson, Hamlyn, $9.99, 128 pages

"My First Baking Book" by Becky Johnson is a wonderful little cookbook for families with small children who love to be in the kitchen and help cook. All of the recipes are easy to make and use natural ingredients.

Many of the recipes appeal to childrens tastes, but there are also several recipes that will introduce children to new and possibly unusual ingredients. Picky eaters need not fear because most of these new foods are presented in attractive and fun ways that may distract from the new ingredients. A few of the recipes call for ingredients that may not be readily available at local grocery stores, such as saffron strands, unwaxed lemon peels and candied currants, but these ingredients can be reasonably substituted with common ones or left out altogether.

This recipe book was written with children in mind, and there are icons throughout that indicate recipes or steps in a recipe that children can do on their own or with little supervision. Children over age 8 can easily complete most of the steps without parental help. As always, parents should supervise.

The 50-plus recipes are divided into sections for cakes, cookies, snack foods and festive holiday treats, and almost every one has a photo to accompany it.


"MY FIRST JUICES AND SMOOTHIES," by Amanda Cross, Hamlyn, $19.99, 128 pages

"My First Juices and Smoothies" by Amanda Cross is a great introduction to juicing and smoothie-making for children and adults alike. It includes healthy recipes that appeal to a child's taste buds and enables parents to makesure that their children receive five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Many children won't touch broccoli or spinach, but blending less-tasty vegetables in with sweet fruits will trick even the most difficult eaters.

The author includes a helpful guide at the beginning of the book that shares on the best fruits and vegetables to juice and the ones to avoid. She also goes over the equipment needed most recipes in the book can be made using a common household blender.

With each of the 60 recipes, Cross shares what ailments the juice or smoothie can alleviate (such as a sore throat), and the benefits of the ingredients (such as calcium and iron to prevent fatigue). Each juice and smoothie recipe also lists the vitamins and minerals or which it is a good source.

All of the ingredients can be bought at local grocery stores, and the serving sizes are just right for children. The recipes call for a lot of chopping and peeling, plus using a blender, so children should only make these juices and smoothies with adult participation.


Smiley Face Cookies

Much better than the boring store-bought cookies, filled with plenty of gooey jelly.

Makes: 20

Prep time: 30 minutes, plus chilling

Cooking time: 1015 minutes

Equipment: nonstick parchment paper, scissors, 2 large baking sheets, large mixing bowl, wooden spoon or handheld electric mixer, sifter, plastic wrap, rolling pin, round cutters, plastic drinking straws, cooling rack, teaspoon

1 stick ( cup) butter or margarine, softened

cup granulated sugar

1 egg

Few drops of vanilla extract

1 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

For the filling

34 tablespoons raspberry or strawberry jelly

1. Help your child to cut two large sheets of parchment paper to cover the baking sheets.

2. Put the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and beat together until creamy.

3. Crack the egg for your child and let your child break it carefully into the mixture. Add the vanilla extract and mix again until smooth.

4. Sift in the flour and stir to make a soft dough. Have your child put her hands in the bowl and pull all the pieces into a ball. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour.

5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Heat the oven to 350F. Dust a work surface with flour and help your little one roll or press out the dough with her fingers until it is about inch thick.

6. Show your child how to use the cutters. Cut two circles for each cookies, then use a straw to cut out the eyes and mouth on half the circles. Place the shapes on the prepared baking sheets.

7. Bake the cookies for 1015 minutes or until a pale golden color. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool.

8. Take a pair of cookies and spread teaspoon of jelly on the bottom one. Place the other circle with the face on top and sandwich together. Repeat with the remaining cookies.

"My First Baking Book" by Becky Johnson


Sleeping Beauty Smoothie

Makes: 1 standard glass

If your child is overexcited or anxious and cant sleep, a delicious smoothie at bedtime should help. Soy milk and almonds are both high in tryptophan. This is converted in the body into the brain chemical serotonin, which alleviates insomnia, calms nerves and helps relaxation. This juice is also high in magnesium and vitamin C, making it a good booster for the adrenal glands and immune system.

4 ounces fresh or frozen strawberries (about 1 cup prepared)

1 cup soy milk

2 kiwifruits

cup slivered almonds (optional)

1. Hull the strawberries. Put all the ingredients into a blender. If using fresh instead of frozen strawberries, add a few ice cubes, then blend until smooth.

2. Pour into a glass and garnish with slivered almonds, if desired.

"My First Juices and Smoothies," by Amanda Cross