My kids don’t eat enough veggies. I’m always on the search for more plant based recipes for kids that they will love. I tried this book to see if it could help my little ones fall in love with vegetables. The Adventures in Veggieland cookbook, by Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, was one attempt to help in this journey (because it is totally a journey – not a single day quest!).
In the spirit of transparency, I would like to share that this is not a sponsored post (no one is paying me to write this). I obtained the Adventures in Veggieland book on my own and chose to do this review to help other moms like me. There are some affiliate links below, so if you do choose to buy the book, using my link will not cost you any extra, but will help support this blog. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
If you are impatient to see the results, feel free to scroll to the end to see if we loved the book. Then come back up here and I’ll share some details. Don’t worry … I’ll wait.
You back now? Perfect – let’s dive in!
My Cookbook Testing Method
I test all new cookbooks, especially those with plant based recipes for my kids, with a fairly rigorous process.
1. The Flip Test
I flip through the book and check for a couple things. I check to make sure it’s easy to read. I look for great photos (I can’t help it, the photos make a difference to me). If I can see it, I’m more likely to want to make it. I see if I can find at least 3 recipes I’d want to make and eat in the first 10 seconds of flipping. If it’s not that easy to find 3 good recipes, it’s not the book for me.
2. The KISS Test
KISS, which I choose to use in the “Keep It Simple Silly”, helps me understand if this cookbook is a good fit. Do I recognize all the ingredients? Can I find them at my local store? Does the recipe fit on one page? If it’s not simple to source ingredients and make, back on the shelf goes the cookbook.
3. The “Let’s Get Cooking” Test
So, this one’s pretty simple. I test out the recipes. I know it sounds obvious, but if you don’t make the recipes, you can’t tell if it’s a good cookbook. While there are some great coffee table cookbooks out there that are more for looking at than using, if my cookbooks don’t end up with food stains on them, they they aren’t earning their keep.
4. Last, but not certainly not least, the “Will My Kids Eat It?” Test
My kids are pretty picky eaters (aren’t most kids?). If I’m going to go through the effort of cooking something, they I’m hoping and crossing my fingers that someone besides just me will actually eat it.
Adventures in Veggieland – How Did It Hold Up to the Testing Process? Let’s see …
The Flip Test
On initial look, it fits the bill. It has photos (although to be honest, most of them are relatively small). However, the photos feature not just the food, but also kids interacting with it, which totally appeals and gives this book some (healthy) brownie points.
Now the real question – can I find at least three recipes that I want to make in the first couple seconds of flipping through? And, yes … I can. Here’s some of the ones that stood out to me as not only appealing to make, but also as very unique.
- Cherry-Red Pepper Ice Cream
- Chocolate and Asparagus Fondue
- Carrot Latkes
The KISS Test
This is one of the areas where Adventures in Veggieland exceeded expectations. The ingredients were simple and easy to find and the recipes were simple and easy to make. In fact, the author intentionally keeps the recipes simple because one of the core tenets is that your kids should cook with you as part of learning to love the food they will be eating.
The “Let’s Get Cooking Test”
So, to test this out, my kids and I “cooked”. I use this term loosely, because this is actually part activity book, part cookbook, which is what made it so appealing to me in the first place. Melanie Potock, or Coach Mel as most people refer to her, walks the reader through letting your kids play with their food first, then progress to eating it. I’ll admit I was skeptical, but it actually worked on my kids.
I chose the beet section to work my way through first, mostly because I am not actually a huge fan of beets, so wanted to see if she could not only help my kids fall in love with beets, but also myself. Most of my experience with beets has been eating them from a can as a kid. Let’s just say it was not a very positive experience.
We started by playing with our food – we made beet tattoos. When I first bought the beets, they just sat on my counter for an afternoon, and each of my kids passed them, looked at them warily, and tried to not linger too long for fear I might make them try one. However, when I announced we were making temporary tattoos, all three kids came literally running into the kitchen (there was almost a nasty collision incident, but everyone’s ok).
We washed and boiled the beets, then cut them into tattoo shapes (like squares, zigzaps, etc.). The kids were then supposed to lick the tattoo and stick it to their skin to leave a mark. Let me just say that this is genius. It gets the kids tasting the beet without them thinking they are being forced to eat vegetables. Also, one of my kids asked if he could take a bite and taste it. (Of course I said yes!)
I also tested out a couple more of the beet recipes (there’s a section for each vegetable that walks you through the process of playing with your food, eating simple recipes with it, and then having a sweet treat with it at the end).
Can’t Be Beep Dip
The “Can’t Be Beet Dip” was also a huge hit. The sweet taste of the beets pairs so well with the bananas and other ingredients. The kids and I loved it. So much so that we had squabbles about who could lick the bowl. Side note: If you are trying to find recipes including beets for toddlers, this might be a good starting point. It’s sweet and healthy at the same time, and has no chocking hazards. If your kid is too young for crackers, try using it like jam on bread. My kids loved it like that.
Simply Beetiful Greens Saute
The “Simply Beetiful Greens Saute” helped us get more familiar with the leafy part of the beet. My kids did not like this one at all, but my husband and I really loved it. It might have been a little too “green” for my kids. The flavor was also stronger than they liked.
Overall, the recipes were simple to make and were explained in an easy to understand manner. As far as cookbooks go, that’s really what you want.
The “Will My Kids Eat It” Test
My kids loved two of the three recipes we’ve tried so far. Not a bad ratio considering we haven’t even made it to the Choco-Beet Cupcakes (although they are coming soon). I did love the method of introducing veggies gently and in a playful manner. That made this book very different than almost any other kids cookbook I’ve seen.
Read This Before You Buy Adventures in Veggieland
There is one reason to pause before actually buying … It’s not all plant based food for kids. Some of it has meat. And some of the recipes appeal more to adults.
While the cookbook does deliver on it’s promise to introduce new veggies, and help kids love them, it’s not actually a vegetarian cookbook like I originally thought. While the meat is not a heavy part of this book, there are recipes like Broccoli and Chicken Enchiladas and Green Bean Bacon Bundles. So if you are strictly vegetarian, be aware that some of these recipes will either need to be skipped or modified before using.
To be fair, even with this limitation, I’m still glad I have this cookbook. It has sparked the imagination and helped my kids (and myself) love a veggie that I didn’t think we’d ever really even try. That is worth it.
Adventures in Veggieland is a unique, well written, playful inspiration for moms like me. Instead of boring recipes, this cookbook taught me how to have fun with vegetables again (broccoli forest anyone?). And better yet, it helped my kids connect with veggies too.