There’s no doubt that raising a child has many joys as well as many challenges. One common challenge parents talk about is the challenge of feeding a child. The word one might be a bit misleading since feeding challenges can be many, can vary between children, and can change over the course of their childhood.

Common Food Challenges With Kids

Are you currently dealing with any of the following common food challenges with your children? Chances are you are dealing with several of these issues at the same time!

  • Picky eaters
  • Introducing unfamiliar foods
  • Food allergies and intolerance
  • Finding healthy snacks
  • Ideas for healthy meals
  • Knowing and meeting nutritional recommendations
  • Making green lunches
  • Healthy vegetarian eating
  • Ideas for school lunches
  • Packing a safe lunch

Our Picky Eater

Our son is 3 1/2 and is going through a (somewhat) picky eating phase. I have a feeling that I need to provide more variety to his diet, both for his interest and for nutrition. Knowing this and doing something about it are two different things, however. That is, until I came across a book that got me excited about change! (Yes, can you believe that? Me – excited for change!)

Better Food For Kids: Your Essential Guide to Nutrition for All Children from Age 2 to 10

Better Food for Kids: Your Essential Guide to Nutrition for All Children from Age 2 to 10, written by Joanne Saab, RD, and Daina Kalnins, MSc, RD, is a complete guidebook for children’s nutritional information and is really three books in one: Feeding your child (by age), Nutritional and health information, and a Cookbook.

Feeding Your Child

Better Food for Kids has a chapter dedicated to three age groups, and in each chapter discusses common feeding issues, concerns, and challenges with that age group. There are also many tips provided for each age group as well as top 10 nutrition questions (with answers) for each age group. The authors also share ways to encourage children to participate in choosing and preparing food.

  • Feeding Your 2- to 4- Year Old: This section discusses feeding milestones, provides a sample menu, provides ideas for picky eaters (including a sample menu for a picky eater), daycare nutrition, and dental care. The tips in this section include tips for introducing unfamiliar foods, tips for preventing choking, great snack ideas for kids (and adults), tips for boosting energy, and tips for monitoring daycare meals. For example, one of their tips for introducing unfamiliar food is:

Don’t force children to keep trying a new food the first time they taste it. Instead, try again at another meal. It may take several tries. … Research indicates that it can take kids between 15 and 30 exposures to a specific food before they are willing to try it.1

  • Feeding Your 4- to 6- Year Old: This section discusses feeding milestones, suggested serving sizes, provides a sample menu, and lists tools for packing child’s lunch. The tips in this section include 16 tips for packing some punch into your child’s lunch (great ideas) and tips for making ‘green’ lunches. For example, one of their tips for packing punch in your child’s lunch is:

Purchase a small stainless steel Thermos and fill it with hot soups or leftover stews and pastas. It can also be used to help keep milk or other beverages cold.1

  • Feeding Your 6- to 10- Year Old: This section discusses healthy breakfast ideas, amount of fluids needed each day, caffeine and kids, school meals, and providing meals and snacks while participating in sports activities. The tips in this section include tips for managing the evening meal and tips for eating while traveling. For example, some ideas for “fast” food while on the move between soccer and hockey games are:

Quinoa mixed with edamame and yellow peppers, hummus with pita bread, feta cheese and tomatoes, and smoothies made with berries and yogurt.1

Nutritional and Health Information

Better Food for Kids includes several chapters on nutritional and health information, each of which contains a list of favorite corresponding recipes:

  • Essential Foods and Nutrients looks at the basic components of food and how each is important to your child’s well-being. It discusses food as fuel, fats and essential fatty acids, carbohydrates, reducing sodium, how much daily protein and fiber a child needs (depending on age), probiotics, the food guides (Canada’s and the US’s), and understanding food labels.
  • Important Vitamins and Minerals takes an in-depth look at the most critical of these substances (iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc) and how they relate to children’s nutrition. For each substance, information is shared regarding how much your child needs and food sources of it.
  • Vegetarian Diets discusses ways to ensure children’s special nutritional needs are met if following a vegetarian diet. Key vegetarian nutrients and their food sources are discussed as well as complete protein and seven tips for healthy vegetarian eating for kids.
  • Avoiding Food Contamination discusses ways to minimize risk of food-borne illness, shares a guide for storing and thawing frozen foods, tips for packing a safe lunch, pesticides, environmental contaminants, hormones, bisphenol A, organic food, genetically modified food (or novel food), irradiation, artificial sweeteners, and enriched or fortified food (functional foods).
  • Food Allergy and Intolerance discusses common food allergies, testing methods, hidden sources of allergens, and alternatives to certain foods.
  • Disturbances in Bowel Function provides information on causes of constipation, tips for treating childhood constipation, and dealing with childhood diarrhea.
  • Childhood Obesity discusses this global epidemic, prevention, healthy eating habits, physical activity, limiting television, and promoting a positive body image. Also included are tips for preparing homemade meals, tips for increasing family physical activity, and tips for watching television.


Beef Satay

The cookbook section includes more than 200 recipes that are thoroughly tested and analyzed. This new, revised version of Better Food for Kids includes updates and modifications to all of the recipes so they reflect the latest guidelines for salt and sugar intake. Each recipe includes the nutritional analysis as well as measurements in English units and metric.

The recipes are not just for kids but are meant to be enjoyed by the whole family. While they are healthy recipes, they are also fun and include a variety of foods. The recipes are divided into the following groups: breakfast, lunch, dinner, salads and sides, snacks, and desserts. Here is a list of just a few of the recipes that I am excited to try:

    • Baked Vegetable Frittata

Oatmeal Cereal Cookies

  • Make-Ahead Breakfast Granola*
  • Sweet Potato Soup
  • Creamy Vegetable Soup
  • Lunchtime Burritos
  • Lentil Patties
  • Maria’s Colorful French Fries
  • Zucchini Sticks
  • Speedy Fettuccine Alfredo
  • Eva’s Simple Chicken Fingers
  • Parmesan Quinoa*
  • Edamame and Bean Salad
  • Broccoli and Quinoa Salad
  • Greek Pasta Salad
  • Simple Parmesan Zucchini
  • Italian Vegetable Risotto
  • Tasty Potato Pancakes
  • Rice and Broccoli Casserole
  • Creamy Spinach Dip
  • Oatmeal Cereal Cookies
  • Soft Pumpkin Cookies*

*I tried these recipes; they were great!

Soft Pumpkin Cookies that I made!

My Overall Thoughts

I was really happy to see color photos in this book; it’s always nice to have a few pictures to look at. It helps me choose a recipe and it helps me see what it should look like when it’s done. But my small gripe about the photos included is that out of the 16 photos, only half of them are photos of the food (recipes). The other half are photos of children eating food, which didn’t really do anything for me.

In the first age-specific chapters I really liked all the tips on various topics, especially the snack ideas, school lunch ideas, and introducing unfamiliar foods.

My ‘Crunchy’ Thoughts

Broccoli Quinoa Salad

Since I am passionate about green, natural, eco-friendly living, I thought I would share specific thoughts to my readers from that angle.

As you can probably tell by my previous articles, some of my views on what constitutes healthy eating differ from the commonly held ‘healthy food’ ideas put forth by the government and some nutritionists. That means in most cookbooks and food articles I usually don’t agree with everything stated; I will just ignore what I don’t agree with and go with my own (researched) information. I wasn’t surprised when this was also the case with Better Food for Kids.

There were several places that I was very impressed with the information they shared. For example, I was very pleased to see the authors discuss probiotics, mention quinoa as a good protein source (as well as share several recipes), and also recommend against constant juice drinking and recommend water instead (as I previously mentioned in an article I wrote).

I also liked that there was a chapter dedicated to vegetarian nutrition as well as tips for making green lunches.

But there were also a few places I disagreed with the information shared. For example, recommending margarine (instead of butter) in a sample menu (as well as mentioning it in recipes) and their soft positions on organic vs. non-organic food, artificial sweeteners, and genetically modified food (novel food).

Who Would Love This Book?

I really think everyone with young children would benefit from Better Food for Kids for various reasons. I will benefit from all the fabulous tips, snack ideas, and recipes – I am needing variety in our meals and what better way to do that than with 200 new recipes! Perhaps you would like knowing how much of each vitamin and mineral your child needs and help finding foods to match that. Or maybe you need help with a picky eater and introducing unfamiliar foods. You can find Better Food for Kids in my store in the ‘Books for Parents’ category.

[Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher Robert Rose Inc.  With that being said, the comments and opinions above are purely my own.]

1Text excerpted from Better Food for Kids: Your Essential Guide to Nutrition for all Children Age 2 to 10 by Daina Kalnins and Joanne Saab. Copyright © 2010 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved

Book cover image and food images (except pumpkin cookies) excerpted from Better Food for Kids: Your Essential Guide to Nutrition for all Children Age 2 to 10 by Daina Kalnins and Joanne Saab. Copyright © 2010 Robert Rose Inc. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved

Wendy –

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