The Toddler Cafe cookbookCool Mom Picks Pick of the Year badgeRecently, my Michael Pollan-obsessed sigOth and I have had some conversations about stepping up our meal preparation game for the kids. So I’m pleased to have discovered two new cookbooks that seem primed to help us find some options that lie somewhere between spaghetti with butter sauce and hiding vegetables in the cupcakes.

The Toddler Cafe: Fast, Easy and Fun Ways to Please Even the Pickiest Eaters
is a wonderfully helpful resource from chef, mom, and Food Network
stylist Jennifer Carden. 50 truly creative family-friendly recipes for all times of day
range from the imaginative (PB&J French Toast) to the wildly
imaginative (Frozen “Pea Pops” on a stick made with snap peas and
chocolate chips) and there’s hardly one in the bunch I wouldn’t
attempt. In fact the Chickadee Chickpea Cakes might just make it to our
dinner table in the next few days.

I particularly appreciate
Jennifer’s clever advice on everything from toddler table manners to
getting a little help with clean-up. And the vivid photographs courtesy
of Jennifer’s pro photog husband Matthew are a joy, reminding you it’s
perfectly natural to have a kid at the table with rice all over his
face or popsicle juice dripping down her shirt.Make Me Something Good to Eat

Make Me Something Good to Eat isn’t
nearly as slick – in fact, there’s not a photo or a cute recipe name to
be found in this self-published cookbook which consolidates more than
100 healthy, crowd-pleasing recipes from the popular online cooking
Tamra is a working director (Grey’s Anatomy, hello!), mom and bona fide
Beastie Boy wife, so I appreciate her perspective on what’s reasonable
for a busy parent to pull off in the kitchen.

In fact, the
book feels less like a cookbook and more like rummaging through your
culinary-savvy friend’s personal repertoire of banana pancakes and fun
salads and stealing her favorites.

There’s a definite west coast vibe
here, with Mexican influence and recipes that include seitan, “Fakin
Bacon,” and ideally the incorporation of organic produce. And by all
means, don’t just save these recipes for the kids. I’d be happy to eat
that Spinach Fillo or Tortilla Soup long after they’ve gone to bed.

I’m finding myself with fewer excuses to break open a box of mac n
cheese at night. I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing – at least for my
kids. –Liz

Find The Toddler Cafe from our affiliate amazon and find Make Me Something Good to Eat on Lulu.