The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make, by Erin Gleeson; Abrams Books for Young Readers, 111 pages, $19.95, ages 5 and up.

Do your kids balk at eating broccoli? Perhaps they adore fruits, but bemoan a lack of variety. Food blogger, photographer, and contributor to Better Homes and Gardens Erin Gleeson’s latest cookbook is geared to those most critical foodies with The Forest Feast for Kids. This kid-friendly follow-up to Gleeson’s New York Times bestselling The Forest Feast is full of uncomplicated recipes appealingly photographed to entice young eaters to try colorful foods and to roll up their sleeves and participate in meal prep.

I decide to put the book to the test–so many children’s cookbooks aren’t really designed with kids in mind, and though full of pretty pictures, seldom do the meals on the pages appear on actual dinner plates. My seven year old seized the opportunity, and immediately bookmarked ten desserts she said we had to try, but eventually settled on Watermelon Smoothies. For nutritional balance, I tabbed the Red Salad recipe, which includes tomatoes, bell peppers, apples, pomegranates, and radishes. Together, we made our grocery list, and all the items (minus the pomegranate) were easily procured at the nearby grocery store. Both recipes were prepared in less than ten minutes, and formed a lovely accompaniment to our main course of sauteed chickpeas and rice. Even my skeptical husband ate the fruity salad. Did I mention this all took place on a schoolnight? It is possible to involve kids with mealtime decisions and preparation, and can be accomplished in roughly thirty minutes. Healthy needn’t be time-consuming or dull, and Gleeson’s book is a cheerful reminder of that.

The author’s homespun watercolors of kitchen utensils and cutting techniques recall the work of cookbook author Susan Branch, and

accompany sunny photographs of salads, smoothies, and strawberry parfaits. Directions are simple to follow, and most recipes lend themselves to weeknight dinner preparations.

Encouraging children to eat properly is much easier when they’re involved in the meal-planning, and The Forest Feast for Kids is a bright and fanciful addition to the home cook’s library.

Try one of the recipes for yourself–Abrams has graciously provided the recipe for Watermelon Smoothies, posted above.

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