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September 28, 2012

Healthy Foods from A to Z. ~ Miri McDonald

Children’s Book Review

*Note: the author received this book for free, in return for a guarantee that we would review said offering. That said, she says what she wants—good or bad, happy or sad.

When I opened up Healthy Foods from A to Z (Spanish title: Comidas Sana de la A a la Z) by Stephanie Maze, I was reminded of Joost Elffers’ books, including Play With Your Food, Food Play and Food for Thought. When those books came out, they were all the rage. But to me, they were books of art and did not depict something I would re-create myself.

Healthy Foods from A to Z is different. It, a book of images of 26 different faces created entirely from healthy foods, left me itching to sit down with my sons to make some of these faces together. In addition, we would learn more Spanish in the process.

Making healthy food fun

With increased media attention on both child and adult obesity, well-meaning adults are talking more about healthy foods, but often in ways that can put kids off.

How many of us have said, “Eat your vegetables. They’re good for you”?

Or the old, “Spinach will make you stronger”?

You call your kids geniuses for a reason—they are! They see through that stuff. That’s why it’s great when pictures help tell a story for you, and take the focus off of the health benefits. Yes, I said that. Kids don’t care why they should eat it—they just want it to look and taste good. And, if it looks weird, they won’t even try it!

That’s why the fun creations in this book will help you. They look delicious and make you smile, and the photographs by Renée Comet are top-notch.

Learning your ABCs in English and Spanish

Each elaborately designed food face is created with foods whose names begin with a particular letter of the alphabet. Each is presented in both English and Spanish. A nice twist is that on the left side of each page, the foods are introduced in English with Spanish in parentheses, and on the right side, it’s the opposite.

For example, the letter “A” food face is composed of apples (manzana), artichokes (alcachofa), apricots (albaricoque), arugula (rúcula), avocado (aguacate), almendras (almonds), albahaca (basil) and apio (celery).

This allows both English and Spanish speakers to read this book to their children and have their children learn from it.

Encouraging creativity

The book is an alphabetized catalogue of healthy foods. I tried to read it to my five-year-old son like a storybook, and that didn’t really work so well. I was left wishing there was a bit of a storyline along with the faces, to keep him interested to the end. Then, I realized this was my chance to encourage my son (and myself!) to be creative and make up stories and names for each of the faces. I also realized that my husband and I could use the book as a reference guide for our cooking and food buying, to mix it up and bring in some variety.

At the end of the book, there are step-by-step instructions to make your own food face. There are a few other activities to try, too. Also, there’s a bonus section that explains a bit about every food that was used in the book, so adults and older children can learn more about them.

I love the idea of making food faces on a rainy afternoon, then devouring every piece, from the apricots to the zarzamoras!

 

Miri McDonald works in strategic communications and is a mom to two young boys, a wife to a fabulous husband and a yogini on and off the mat. She and her family live in Madison, WI, where they enjoy eating the healthy foods the amazing WI farmers grow, especially remolachas, maiz and sandias. She tweets at @mirimcdonald.

 

~

Editor: Jayleigh Lewis

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