Though we don’t have kids ourselves we still eat plenty of meals with the 3 small people we do know. I never realised how awkward children can be at the dinner table, especially when it comes to fussy eating. Now I remember as a child going on holiday was a challenge as all I trusted was chips. I wasn’t a big fan of trying new foods but bit by bit as I got older I started to eat better. While we haven’t suffered too much with Matilda and Frankie, Bella is finding it hard to find foods she likes.

I was a fan of Emily’s blog beforehand and would often go to her blog for inspiration. Not to mention she could cook the most unappealing food on earth and still make it look like it was ready for the Queen to eat. Emily’s recipes and ideas about food are fun, tasty and highly practical. She understands that not everyone has a full day to prep a 6-course dinner.

The Book Itself

I was really looking forward to getting the book as my niece Bella has been struggling to find foods she likes. She has got into a comfort zone of set foods that she will eat, anything away from that and she loses interest. When she was younger (she is 4 now) she would try different things and generally eat foods like a young child would but over the past year her eating habits have got worse.

The book is split into 5 phases, each phase is broken down to help break down the wall of the comfort zones. Even as adults we get set into ways of eating set meals and often go looking for something different when we get bored of that routine. Children tend to stick to what they know because the fear is too great. I like to think Emily’s book is like Monsters Inc, the way Mike and Sully changed scaring children. Turning frightening foods into something fun and tasty for everyone to enjoy.

Reading through the different phases I know that Frankie would enjoy every phase as he would make it into a game. Matilda would enjoy making the food as she likes to play shops and kitchen so she would happily get stuck in. And Bella enjoys baking so I think getting her to help cook wouldn’t be difficult.

Our main struggle would be to get Bella to cook something she didn’t choose. She is a strong-willed little girl and definitely knows what she likes and doesn’t like. I think the biggest challenge will be getting her to try the new foods.

There are so many helpful hints and tips in Emily’s book. One of my favourite pages is the cupboard essentials, basic ingredients and staple items to get you started. These are things I like to know about for meal planning my week. These are extremely helpful as you can start planning on stocking up on these items each week to spread the cost and get you covered for each recipe and task.

Emily has added notes and questions to guide you to think about new ways of presenting favourite foods or introducing new ones. I really like that there is a clear path towards getting plenty of the right foods into the meals, there are many times we have made a meal and thought it was lacking on the veg or protein.

The Process

We decided to pick one of the recipes from Emily’s book to try on Matilda and Frankie before going through the whole programme with Bella.

Looking through the book it is such a lovely layout with helpful tips and tricks. The design is beautiful but the fundamental bases of the book are great.

We chose to bake the Foccacia with tomatoes, mozzarella and garlic. The kids really enjoy baking, especially Matilda who likes to say “No I do it” a lot. So this wasn’t much of a challenge to get them involved. I did, however, have to keep the tomatoes away from Frankie as he likes to eat them like its an apple.

I had done the shopping and decided that we were going to have a simple pasta bake (it’s our Monday night tea usual). The kids love pasta bake and both Frankie and Matilda can eat plenty of it. They have had the odd garlic bread with their pasta bake before so thought the focaccia was a great alternative for them to try.

I didn’t get them involved with the dough as they tend to fight and squabble and then it gets messy and we have tears. So I decided they could help put on the toppings and sprinkle of the herbs and garlic. The dough was really simple to make and I was really impressed with myself for getting it fairly right. (I say fairly because it could have been horrid and everyone was just being nice!) 

Once I had proved the dough and got it ready for baking I brought the kids in to help. Frankie was hoping to eat the tomato before it went onto the bread and Matilda wanted to sprinkle the herbs like pixie dust, but it was fun!

We popped it into the oven to cook, we served it up as little squares for little hands to pick up and it was lovely. My sister Laura who ‘is on a diet’ ate at least half to herself so it must have been good!

I plated it up and put on the table for everyone to try, Frankie was a little suspicious at first. I think it was because he knew I had made the dough and it wasn’t a shop bought base. But after a quick taste, he was converted.

It was difficult to get everyone to sit still for a picture! Matilda has a tendency to want to stand on the chair, which she did seconds after this picture was taken! 

I really enjoyed making this and as it was so simple I wouldn’t hesitate to get the kids more involved in the dough making on the next one. I am also thinking of using the recipe as a base and getting them to try different toppings each time we make one, just to try and push their tastebuds.

Emily really has thought of everything and it is clear to see that there has been a lot of hard work put into the book. This isn’t just going to be my go-to book for getting the children to eat anything but also how to be more creative with my own meals. Emily has included notes and questions to ask yourself while cooking to help determine new ways of creating fish and chips. It is almost like she is there in the kitchen with you.

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