Some cookbook concepts are so easily understood, you simply turn to the recipes and begin cooking.
Tyler Florence’s Start Fresh: Your Child’s Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating, released earlier this summer, is just such a book. Start Fresh is based on the premise that fresh real foods should be an integral part of growing up and, perhaps more importantly, an early introduction to unprocessed foods, eaten together as a family, makes your child a fan of healthy foods and flavors for life.
What is unique about Start Fresh is Florence’s belief that the flavor profiles and techniques he uses in his restaurants can be easily utilized in the home kitchen to simple, delicious effect. With no fancy equipment – a large pot, some baking sheets and a food processor – you, too, can transform your family’s mealtimes.
Recipes are broken down into stages recognizable to any parent of infants or toddlers: Stage 1 (4-6 months) through Stage 4 (12 months and beyond) and no technique gets more complicated than chopping, steaming, roasting or pureeing.
The focus is on fresh, nutritionally dense foods and Florence introduces ingredients throughout the book. Carrots and apples, staples at Stage One, are presented alongside kale, parsnips and spinach. Later chapters incorporate additional flavors, textures and colors with foods such as coconut milk and flaxseed, ginger and Brussels sprouts, and recipes appropriate for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In the second half of the book's Stages 3 (9-12 months) and 4, Florence encourages you to cook once for the entire family, then adjust the temperature and texture to suit your audience. For Roasted Golden Beets with Quinoa and Feta, for example, Florence asks you to divide the recipe into appropriately-sized portions and serve “as is” to adults but ‘puree or fork-mash as appropriate’ for the little ones at the table.
One-Pan Lasagna (pictured) will make you rethink your traditional lasagna and Turkey Meatloaf Cupcakes with Potato Frosting brings a fresh eye to an old stand-by. Even better, little hands can help stir or measure at every step.
The joy of shared, simply prepared meals is the heart of this book. Like Family Meal, Florence’s most recent cookbook, cooking and eating real foods and eating them as a family at a table is not a chore but a gift for you, your child and your family. Relax. Eat. Savor.
For those days when you really just don’t want to cook, Florence’s line of Sprout baby foods (27 flavor combinations) is available at his , as is Start Fresh.