Thursday, March 4, 2010

Book Review: Bean Appetit: Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun with Food

There is a cafe in town that caters specifically to children.  From the kid-friendly decor to the unique food options and cooking classes, everything about Bean Sprouts Cafe screams children.  And the owners of the cafe, Shannon Payette Seip and Kelly Parthen have put together a new book, Bean Appetit, which is my new favorite recipe book.  Keep an eye out for it in American Baby and FamilyFun magazines.

The book is full of yummy looking recipes, kitchen activities, and random trivia, and my husband, who loves typography, was enthralled simply by the graphic design.  Once you get past the shiny, attractive covers and pictures, there is some helpful information, too.  For starters, I picked up a tip for a butter substitute, particularly in baking.  Bean Appetit recommends using a chickpea puree, which doesn't sound particularly delicious, but my picky eaters noticed only an improved texture to their cupcakes.  For those looking for allergy friendly substitutes, this one is a winner!  In fact, I will soon be posting my newly designed cake recipe utilizing this fantastic alternative to butter.

There are also some funky food ideas, my favorite of which is the Very Hungry Catepillar from the Eric Carle book.  It looks relatively easy to make, so I am sure we will be eating one of these in the near future! 

There is also this yummy looking taco.  While the picture looks normal enough, the taco itself is made from pastry, chocolate dough, fruit leather, and strawberries.  Sounds like April Fool's Day lunch to me! 

Another excellent chapter centers around making music with food.  There are directions for making vegetable instruments, alternate uses for kitchen utensils, and silly song ideas.  In fact, there is mention of the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, which is, apparently, a real organization.  How fun!

My only criticism of the book is that there is perhaps not enough substance.  Unlike Sophie-Safe Cooking, which was jam-packed full of useful, practical information, Bean Appetit is a more whimsical approach to cooking and kitchen fun.  It would be perfect for aspiring cooks in the 8-14 age range, but it has enough ideas to bring some fun into the pre-school age kitchen as well.  I expect that it will be one of Adrienne's favorite books in the coming years.

Overall Grade: A-

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