Review: 'The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children'

Marcia Krahn  ·  Oct 30, 2017

Cooking in traditional ways became crucial to Suzanne Gross “when she realized it was a necessary skill to have in order to keep her family healthy.” With Sally Fallon Morell, known for her best-selling Nourishing Traditions cookbook and the Weston A. Price Foundation, Suzanne Gross has created The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children, a kid-tested version of the original cookbook. Both authors believe that “knowing how to cook is just as valuable (in life) as knowing how to read or write.”

That value is reflected in the book’s artwork. Angela Eisenbart’s realistic illustrations glow with warmth, welcoming children to explore the world of nutrition. The artwork also serves as a visual listing of all the ingredients and utensils necessary for each recipe.

This cookbook stands as the authors’ response to our society’s desire for convenient processed foods. “The perceived convenience of processed foods is an illusion, however, because the more we become dependent on these foods for our sustenance, the more we become plagued with health problems,” they point out. “Food is one of our basic needs. And the quality of our food has a profound impact on our health and ultimately, the quality of our life. If we don’t teach our children how to cook nourishing foods, who will?”

Although the authors encourage parents and educators to teach children to cook, they acknowledge that it will not be easy. Children are sloppy as they measure, mix, and pour, spilling ingredients over the counters or table and floor, sometimes breaking dishes. Aside from that factor, cooking takes time planning, gathering, and preparing the ingredients. Combine that with the fact that kitchens are designed for adult ease, not child use. The counters and cupboards are hard for them to reach, and adult-sized utensils are awkward in children’s hands.

But cheer the children on, for the advantages gained through your investment of time are immense. Children enjoy accomplishing an adult task and take pride in their efforts. As their skills improve, their help becomes an asset and a time-saver. Children eagerly sample food they made themselves, naturally curious about how it will taste. Cooking teaches them arithmetic through measuring, reading comprehension when going over recipes, and scientific principles by mixing and heating or chilling. Showing them how to choose the best produce and to read labels eventually speeds shopping. Most importantly, you are rewarded with healthier children who work well with others and carry that on in their own families.

One section suggests tips to improve the process. Set up your kitchen with a sturdy chair or stool that puts your child at counter level. If possible, provide a table to work on that’s just their size. Organize the lower cabinets to store the bowls and utensils you want them to use. Next, establish a routine. Wash hands. Add an apron to protect against the inevitable spill. For more efficient work, read the recipe aloud and decide who does each task. The children should gather the ingredients and utensils. Don’t forget to have them help clean up.

Another tip is to craft a child-friendly recipe file. Select all the recipes, then ask your family to locate pictures of the food or, if preferred, photograph or draw your own pictures to attach to labeled recipe cards or card stock. At a regularly scheduled time each week, choose that week’s recipes, arrange the recipes in order of use for each day, and display them in the kitchen, ready to go.

Equipping your kitchen with safe tools is essential. This book gives advice on purchasing and using the necessary ones. For example, young children can use a food chopper in place of a knife. When they are ready for a knife, have them begin by slicing a banana with a table knife. Graduate to a serrated knife because the possibility of slipping is minimized by the scalloped edges.

The measuring guide explains volume, weight, and quantity. For measuring liquids accurately, place the liquid in a clear measuring cup on an even surface and get at eye-level to judge the amount. Otherwise the measurement will appear to be more or less than it is.

Be prepared for questions covering each section. The “have you ever wondered” questions ask why you get sick more often in the winter or why tomatoes are red, but carrots are orange. A couple “Can you guess what product this is?” questions list ingredients for popular prepared foods, then explain what they are and how they affect your body. Discussion questions address topics like “Should we stop eating meat so that animals won’t have to suffer on factory farms anymore?”

Don’t underestimate this book because it’s for children. Unlike many children’s cookbooks that weigh heavily on snacks and desserts, this one covers 200 pages of recipes to create complete meals. The chapters begin with “Incredible Eggs!” and end with “What’s for Dessert?” Each chapter highlights a category such as “Mighty Milk!” or “Meet your Meat” and provides a helpful nutritional overview. Some recipes are simple and quick to make. Others involve several steps with hours in-between. But all are within a school age child’s ability, as long as younger ones are supervised.

Expect The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children to embrace all food categories—including the nightshade vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, fats, salt, and natural sweeteners—and to explain how to select and properly prepare them to preserve the highest quality.

Also expect a touch of whimsy as you read. After building celery boats, pretend to sail the high seas. Use berries to make smiley faces or hearts on your pancakes. Remember that sourdough starter needs to be fed like a pet. And cooked carrots cut into rounds are not just cooked carrots, they are carrot coins. “Don’t forget to wear your sombrero” while serving Mexican Scrambled Eggs, but “leather sandals are optional” for the Greek omelet.

You’ll find the information you need to make ginger ale or bone broth, to soak or sprout grains, to ferment vegetables (make pickles), and much more, written in a simple, thorough way that produces successful results.

As such, The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children serves as an excellent primer for adults to study “old-fashioned” techniques in a less intimidating way. Adults and children alike learn that food can harm or heal, and learn to act on that knowledge for better health. 

Illustration by Angela Eisenbart.

Equipping your kitchen with safe tools is essential. This book gives advice on purchasing and using the necessary ones. For example, young children can use a food chopper in place of a knife. When they are ready for a knife, have them begin by slicing a banana with a table knife. Graduate to a serrated knife because the possibility of slipping is minimized by the scalloped edges.

The measuring guide explains volume, weight, and quantity. For measuring liquids accurately, place the liquid in a clear measuring cup on an even surface and get at eye-level to judge the amount. Otherwise the measurement will appear to be more or less than it is.

Be prepared for questions covering each section. The “have you ever wondered” questions ask why you get sick more often in the winter or why tomatoes are red, but carrots are orange. A couple “Can you guess what product this is?” questions list ingredients for popular prepared foods, then explain what they are and how they affect your body. Discussion questions address topics like “Should we stop eating meat so that animals won’t have to suffer on factory farms anymore?”

Don’t underestimate this book because it’s for children. Unlike many children’s cookbooks that weigh heavily on snacks and desserts, this one covers 200 pages of recipes to create complete meals. The chapters begin with “Incredible Eggs!” and end with “What’s for Dessert?” Each chapter highlights a category such as “Mighty Milk!” or “Meet your Meat” and provides a helpful nutritional overview. Some recipes are simple and quick to make. Others involve several steps with hours in-between. But all are within a school age child’s ability, as long as younger ones are supervised.

Expect The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children to embrace all food categories—including the nightshade vegetables, grains, dairy, meat, fats, salt, and natural sweeteners—and to explain how to select and properly prepare them to preserve the highest quality.

Also expect a touch of whimsy as you read. After building celery boats, pretend to sail the high seas. Use berries to make smiley faces or hearts on your pancakes. Remember that sourdough starter needs to be fed like a pet. And cooked carrots cut into rounds are not just cooked carrots, they are carrot coins. “Don’t forget to wear your sombrero” while serving Mexican Scrambled Eggs, but “leather sandals are optional” for the Greek omelet.

You’ll find the information you need to make ginger ale or bone broth, to soak or sprout grains, to ferment vegetables (make pickles), and much more, written in a simple, thorough way that produces successful results.

As such, The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children serves as an excellent primer for adults to study “old-fashioned” techniques in a less intimidating way. Adults and children alike learn that food can harm or heal, and learn to act on that knowledge for better health.