3 Books That Are Worth Your Time (and Giveaway)

by Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD on October 5, 2012

I received complimentary copies of each of the following books around the same time. Needless to say, I was going to review all of these separately but thought I’d wrap it up in one post. I’m selective about the books I review, and feel that each of these are worth your time and consideration. And here’s why.

(Don’t miss giveaway at the end!)

Cooking with Trader Joe’s: Easy Lunch Boxes by Kelly Lester

This book combines two things I love — Trader Joe’s and Easy Lunch Boxes. Easy Lunch Boxes is the number one selling Amazon bento box and I’ve been using it since Big A started preschool (see review). I love them and so do my kids. They helped me slowly get creative with packing lunches.

Cooking with Trader Joe’s is full of easy and healthy lunch ideas for kids. Most of the recipes are from food bloggers using a plethora of Trader Joe’s Products. I was going to contribute to this cookbook but was too overwhelmed with the writing of Fearless Feeding.

The book is categorized in the following sections: packing lunches fast, early, kid friendly, playful (AKA creative), snack ideas, work lunches, veggie, vegan and gluten-free. There is definitely something for everyone here — and even if you don’t use the exact recipes, the ideas (and beautiful pictures) are inspiring.

Even though I am a weekly shopper at Trader Joe’s, there’s always seems to be a treasure that I’m missing like the Brown Rice California rolls featured in this book. I also cannot wait to try the Sweet Potato Graham Cracker French Toast Sticks , Spaghetti Meat Ball Muffins and Spicy Beef Pinwheels.

If you stuck in a lunch-making rut, or are looking for more ideas, this book is for you!

French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon


I read French Kids during my late summer vacation, devouring it within a couple of days.

Le Billon, married to a Frenchman, decides to move her family abroad for a year to a small village in France. The culture shock is apparent in many ways, including food. Her young children enjoy a carb-rich diet, snack throughout the day and don’t quite measure up to the manners the French kids have.

The French, on the other hand, are pretty regimented in how and what they eat. They eat at specific times and don’t snack, except for the afternoon goiter. Quality food is of the utmost priority to them as well — and kids are expected to eat what the parents eat. LeBillon couldn’t help but notice how well (and neatly) the French kids eat and with little fuss from their parents (no threats, bribes etc).

What is most amazing is how and what the kids eat in school. French children get an hour long lunch in the cafeteria (cantine), with elaborate menus and feeding helpers cutting up food if needed. Kids also get taste training in school and French parents, and daycares, feed babies and young toddlers with variety in mind.

Throughout the book, Le Billon gradually adopts rules for eating based on what she learns about French food culture. This is not something she comes to easily as she defends her way of feeding (and eating) but gets worn down over time. At first she makes the mistake of being too overt with these “rules” and eventually loosens up with help from her husband. What were rules simply become habits and her two children increase their food repertoire nicely.

I kept thinking how the French don’t seem to have the same challenges we have which is why, at least for me, the most relatable part of the book is when her family moves back to Canada. Her children pick up old habits and she comes up with some strategies on how to combine the two worlds she loves so much.

Admittedly, there were a few “cringe” moments like the 8 month old French baby being fed (milk and solids) only four times a day and some other tidbits I didn’t agree with. But I do believe there is something to be learned from a culture that places such a high value on good food — and the enviable food education they provide to children. It made me reexamine the kind of “food culture” I want for my own family and gave me ideas on how to incorporate traditions from my own Serbian heritage.

I commend Le Billon for her candor and a very enjoyable read (couldn’t put it down!). Merci!

Real Family Food: Simple and Easy Recipes Your Whole Family Will Love by Amanda Haas (with Cooking Light)

Cooking Light sent me Real Family Food because I’m a member of their Blogger Connection. I wasn’t even expecting it which made it even more of a treat.

Amanda Haas, founder of One Family, One Meal, does a beautiful job putting together appealing recipes. I have already made several including homemade pizza sauce, Caesar salad and Chicken Divan. In this book, I finally found a homemade ranch dressing I love! Just simple, whole food recipes that are quick to make. Right up my alley.

The book begins with some basic recipes such as dressings, pesto, salsas and dips. Then there are breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes as well as wholesome snack ideas, salads and side dishes. It includes grilling recipes and sweet treats too.

I can’t wait to try the Black Bean Dip, Chili Roasted Sweet Potato Nuggets, Chasen’s Famous Chili, Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls and Chocolate Pots de Creme. French Kids motivated me to get more adventurous with my desserts and there are lots of good ideas in this book.

I asked Cooking Light to send this amazing book to one of my readers and they said yes. Here’s what you need to do to enter the giveaway:

1) Mandatory entry: Leave a comment telling me why you’d like to win a copy of Real Family Food.

2) For a second entry, Join our Fearless Feeding Community (LIKE) on Facebook and leave a comment here saying you did. If you already like us, share the Fearless Feeding Facebook page with a friend and tell me here.

3) For a third entry tweet or “Like” this page and leave one last comment.

One winner will be chosen using random.org. The winners will be announced on Raise Healthy Eater’s Facebook Page. This giveaway ends next Friday, October 12th, at midnight.

You must be 18 to enter. Products shipped within the US only.

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{ 60 comments… read them below or add one }

Staci A October 8, 2012 at 11:50 am
ckutryb October 9, 2012 at 8:56 am

I love Cooking Light and am always looking for recipes for my whole family.

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ckutryb October 9, 2012 at 8:57 am

I liked you on Facebook (finally – been meaning to do it for a while).

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Michelle in NH October 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I would love a copy of this book! Single parent committed to feeding my daughter whole and healthy foods! Loved French Kids Eat Everything!

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Michelle in NH October 9, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Liked you on Facebook!

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Heather Robbins October 10, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I subscribe to Cooking Light and enjoy many of the magazine’s recipes. I love to cook and work hard to provide fresh, caring meals for my family. I would love to have a new book to explore family recipes. I want my children to eat what my husband and I eat, and having a cookbook that focuses on that would be great.

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Heather Robbins October 10, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I just liked your Fearless Feeding page on FB. I left a comment there, but I’m leaving one here too.

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Heather Robbins October 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm

I also liked this page, here’s my last comment. Oh, looking forward to reading French Kids Eat Everything. I try to raise my kids to eat what I eat, but am having nightly frustrations with my 4-yo. No matter how many times I tell myself I won’t nag or argue, I always end up saying “eat! eat!” as he fiddles around.

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Susan T October 13, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I like Cooking Light and would like to try this book and some new recipes.

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