Eat Like A Dinosaur: Recipe & Guidebook for Gluten-Free Kids, written by The Paleo Parents, contains more then 100 kid-approved recipes and projects free of grain, dairy, and legumes. The Forward was written by popular gluten-free author and blogger, Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry. The lovely illustrations, layout, interior design, photographs, and notes throughout make the book eye-appealing and inviting to both kids and adults.
What’s inside, front to back
This book can help you get started and maintain a healthier way of eating. It can guide you in feeding your kids healthier foods they’ll enjoy, in shopping for new ingredients, and in getting your kids involved in the process. The front part of the book is geared towards parents, making the transition to a paleo-style diet, how to get your child involved, how to make eating fun, and tools for the paleo kitchen.
The authors share about themselves and their kids, the journey they’ve been through, and the results they’ve experienced as a couple and as a family. In less then 15 months, Matthew and Stacy lost more then 200 pounds collectively and transformed the health of their children, whose so-called “normal” health problems, from early obesity (off the chart BMIs, asthma, and behavioral incidents at school to ADHD to full body eczema and allergies, disappeared after they adopted a grain-free, bean and legume-free, gluten-free, dairy-free paleo diet. They also successfully enrolled their kids in helping them shop, cook, and enjoy a whole new way of eating. They made if fun and, in the process, created their book Eat Like A Dinosaur to show other parents how they can make the same kinds of changes.
The second part of the book includes recipes, with each chapter color-coded. Recipe chapters include entrees, side dishes, dips, and sauces, snacks, and special treats. Other chapters focus on packing lunches kids will enjoy and fun food-related projects to do with kids.
The last section on projects for parents to engage in with their kids includes fun things to make as well as out and about projects, such as field trips to farmer’s markets, u-pick-it farms, and more. The book ends with an index of recipes by ingredient and by allergen.
The recipes contain visual post-it-notes telling you about special tools you will need, what temperature to preheat the oven to. Instructions include “how kids can help” notations. A notes section on each recipe page allows you to jot down how you like a recipe, what substitutions you made, if any or want to the next time.
Ingredients are set off in easy to read boxes. Head notes include interesting info about what Matthew and Stacy’s kids like to have with the recipe or how they like to top it, what makes the recipe kid-friendly, or what prompted them to create a particular recipe. The recipes also include yields, a feature I appreciate and include in my own cookbooks.
I found so many recipes I wanted to try. I flagged at least a dozen, including Zucchini Latkes, a Kale, Bacon & Black Olive Egg Pie, Nature’s Spears, Black Olive Tapenade, Honey Barbecue Ground Jerky, Carrot Cupcakes, Fool’s Gold (chicken nuggets), Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. As of this writing I have tried three recipes from the book.
Each recipe contains a key to the top eight allergens. If a particular symbol is high-lighted on a page, it means that the recipe contains that particular ingredient. If the symbol appears in grey, the recipe does not contain the ingredient. None of the recipes call for wheat, dairy, soy, beans, or peanuts.
What I tried
The first recipe I tried was The Fool’s Gold (chicken nuggets) on page 80 and 81. I made it for company two weekends ago. I found I only needed to use half of the amount of oil and almond flour called for. I used some of the leftover coating on half a dozen large oyster mushrooms I’d purcahsed from Whole Foods Market. Both dishes came out great. We ate the mushrooms before I snapped a picture. I plan to make both of these recipes again.
Next, I made the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins on page 199. The recipe called for an over ripe banana and chocolate chips as the sweeteners. I replaced the chocolate chips with raisins and added a dropper full of my favorite stevia, vanilla-flavored Nu Naturals liquid stevia to the batter. I liked the texture and flavor. They were very mild in sweetness. I only tried one bite when I gave two of them to a girl friend. I had to toss the rest. I left them out at room temp for three or four days when the weather got very hot; it made the muffins spoil. They tasted funky and had something stringy growing that became evident when I broke one apart. Last year when the same thing happened with some paleo pumpkin muffins I’d made and left out, a friend who is an infectious disease specialist advised me to throw out anything that got like that. ;-o
I also made a half batch of the Chocolate Chip Cookies on page 191.They were also low in sugar (half a teaspoon of honey, half a teaspoon of dates, and 1 teaspoon of chopped dark chocolate per cookie). Mine didn’t look as pretty as the ones in the picture. Next time, I plan to chill the dough before dropping it onto the baking sheets. Still my friends enjoyed them and I froze the rest to share at a later date. Most recipes in Eat Like a Dinosaur that call for sweeteners rely on honey, fresh fruit, or dried fruit. A few call for white sugar. These can easily be replaced by coconut palm sugar, something the authors mention doing themselves.
This book can help you get started and maintain a healthier way of eating. It can guide you in feeding your kids healthier foods they’ll enjoy, in shopping for new ingredients, and in getting your kids involved in the process. The Paleo Parents share great stories about the adventures they’ve had with their kids since going paleo and about the many ways their health has improved.
My take on it
I enjoyed reading the book, from beginning to end, getting to know more about this family, and perusing pictures of their kids engaged in some of their favorite activities and of the dishes they enjoy making and eating. I give Eat Like A Dinosaur a double thumbs up. Even though I don’t have kids, I know I will enjoy cooking from it and telling my students, friends, and colleagues about it. The book and the family’s story are testaments to the power of food in allowing the body to heal and return to homeostasis.