Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cookbook Review: The Whole Family Cookbook by Michelle Stern

The best way to get kids to eat healthier is to get them cooking in the kitchen. Whether you're already raising little sous chefs or don't know where to start, Michelle Stern's cookbook, The Whole Family Cookboook, has everything you need.

Michelle, who is a personal friend of mine, is both the founder of the popular blog, What's Cooking with Kids? and owner of What's Cooking, a certified green company in the San Francisco Bay Area that teaches families how to cook more healthfully. Now she has a cookbook with over 75 healthy, tasty, family-friendly recipes for you and your kids to whip up in your own kitchen.

Chapters are divided by meal types: "Breakfast of Champions," "Lunchtime Favorites," "What's For Dinner" and "Scrumptious Sides." There are two extra chapters entitled "Mom-Approved-Treats" with recipes such as Apple Crisp with Vanilla Sauce and "Make-It-Yourself" dishes with recipes such as homemade pancake mix.

Instructions are smartly color coded for children of different ages and many are accompanied by fun facts and trivia. While some recipes are clearly geared to kids, such as "Turkey Toes," a healthy riff on chicken nuggets, most will be happily eaten by kids and adults alike. What mom wouldn't enjoy Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Apples or Cinnamon Pear Clafouti?

In this book you'll learn how to:
*Become a smarter shopper.
*Think and eat like a locavore (a person who tries to eat locally sourced foods).
*Make your kitchen healthier.
*Engage your kids in grocery shopping and cooking.
*Save time making home cooked meals.
*Have fun cooking with your kids while teaching them important life skills.

Since I love tofu, I made Michelle's recipe for Crispy Tofu Triangles with Asian Dipping Sauce. Whether or not you're a vegetarian, tofu is a healthy, tasty alternative to meat. In this recipe, the tofu is cooked until golden and crisp then dipped in a sweet and tangy sauce made with honey, soy sauce and fresh chives. I don't have kids, but my husband who is most definitely not a tofu fan, liked it too.

Crispy Tofu Triangles with Asian Dipping Sauce
Serves 4-6
Printable recipe.

2 packages of extra firm tofu, preferably organic
3 tablespoons canola oil

Asian Dipping Sauce: 
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon honey, agave nectar, or brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 garlic clove
Fresh chives, to taste
Chile oil, optional

1. Open and drain the packages of tofu and cut into slices approximately 1/3" thick. Cut the slices diagonally into triangles. Place onto towel in a single layer. Place another towel over the top of tofu slices and top with another baking sheet. Put something heavy on top to it presse the liquid out of the tofu. Allow to rest for 30 mintes to 1 hour.

2. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the canola oil. When it starts to shimmer, carefully place the tofu triangles into the pan. Cook 2 1/2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on a plate lined with a dish towel or paper towels. Pat the tops to absorb the oil as well.

3. To make the sauce, pour soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and rice vinegar into a small bowl. Stir. Peel the paper off the garlic. Use a garlic press to mash the garlic, and add it to the sauce. Use clean scissors to snip some chives into the sauce, for color and a wonderful mild onion flavor.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes but was not paid. If you'd like to learn more about the book, check out Michelle's video.