One of our favorite cookbook authors is Amy Palanjian, the Iowa-based mom behind Yummy Toddler Food. On her blog and Instagram she shares her expert tips, recipes and real life moments that we can all relate to. In her new book, Food Play, she shares recipes that even young kids can help with—which is an amazing idea since even the pickiest eaters are more likely to eat what they make! (She has plenty of recipe-testers, too, with three kids—Linden, 8, Tula, 4, and Selway, 2.) We spoke to Amy about her new book, cooking with her kids, quarantine life and more!
Want more picky-eater tips from Amy? Click here.
I love the idea that all these recipes are “assemble only”! How did you decide to write this book?
I wanted to do a book that wasn’t exactly the same as the content I provide on my website, and putting the focus on foods kids could help make seemed both fun and new. There really aren’t any cookbooks for kids this young!
Why is cooking with kids so important?
Having kids in the kitchen can help them gain confidence around food in a situation that’s inherently much less stressful than a meal at the table. So those sensory experiences can lay a foundation for kids to become more comfortable touching and eating all sorts of foods down the road.
What are your favorite kitchen tools for preschoolers?
I love a crinkle cutter and potato masher to start with, then a set of kids knives. But really, you can do a lot with their hands or a sturdy wooden spoon!
Do you have a safety chair that you recommend?
I love any learning tower with a wide base and a back to help prevent accidental falls. (My go-to learning towers are here.)
How do you move past the “mess factor”?
1.) Know it’s normal. 2.) Save cooking with the kids for when you can focus and aren’t rushing. 3.) Limit activities to just part of a recipe if it saves your sanity. For example, you could bake cookies during naptime and then have the kids help frost them when they are up. You don’t have to do it all! (It is messy!)
How does this book compare to your others?
My other books are all digital ebooks meant to make it easier for parents to feed their kids. This book is designed for kids to look at and learn from alongside their parents. So this isn’t about getting dinner onto the table or packing lunches, it’s about letting the kids have fun with their food.
How have you coped with pandemic life, as a working mom?
We have an awesome babysitter who comes in the mornings and that has 100% changed my life. She started in August and it’s so helpful to have a block of work time since we lost our daycare spots back in March.
What are your goals for 2021?
For generally in life, I want my kids to be able to stay in school in person through the end of the year. So far, this semester is going well so I’m hopeful. Business-wise, we’re working on updating the site to make it even more user-friendly and easy to search. I’m working with an app on weekly meal plans and am currently brainstorming new cookbook ideas!
What silver linings are you taking with you from 2020 into 2021?
I figured out how to do my job better and in less time, and we’ve found a whole lot more ways to stay occupied at home. 2020 was the year that my kids truly fell in love with podcasts! I’ve also had a lot more time with my youngest than I would have otherwise, which has been a blessing.
This post originally appeared on The Local Moms Network