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From the Townsend Letter
October 2009

Book Review:
Whole Foods for the Whole Family
review by Jule Klotter

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Feeding the Whole Family, 3rd edition
by Cynthia Lair; foreword by Peggy O'Mara
Sasquatch Books
119 South Main Street, Suite 400
Seattle, Washington 98104; 206-467-4300;
Softbound, ©2008, 309 pp., ISBN-10: 1-57061-525-X; $21.95 (US)

If you want to learn how to make easy, nutritious meals and put a smile on your face, check out (or Cynthia Lair, author of Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children, and Their Parents, and director Brad Huskinson have created an online cooking show to "educate folks on how to cook dishes using fresh, local, organic whole ingredients despite life's interruptions." The site has over 30 how-to videos, lasting 3 to 6 minutes each. A new video comes out about once a week. Some episodes teach basics like how to peel ginger or how to cook greens. Others demonstrate how to make a mouth-watering entree, side dish, or snack: Ben's Friday (wheat-free) Pancakes; Grace's Mole con Pollo (chicken with Mexican chocolate sauce); Maple Butter Nut Granola; Napa Cabbage Slaw; Broccoli, Cauliflower & Carrots in Cheddar Cheese Sauce; Three Sisters Stew. Yeah, it's not MacDonald's. But that's the whole point.

Instead of doing a straight cooking show, Cynthia Lair has melded her experience in theater and improvisation with her nutrition expertise. Lair is a certified health and nutrition counselor who teaches at Bastyr University (near Seattle, Washington). During each video, the cook (usually Cynthia) can count on having an interruption. "Husband" Steve (played by Matt Smith) wants to use the kitchen sink in the middle of Cynthia's demonstration. Grown "daughter" Jane (Bhama Roget) needs a bow tie for her catering outfit. Darrell the handyman (Troy Mink) needs pliers. No slick professional chefs or state-of-the-art kitchen for this cooking show! This show imitates reality.

Many recipes in the show come from Lair's book. I reviewed an earlier version of Feeding the Whole Family several years ago. I remember it because I loved the simplicity of the recipes and appreciated her suggestions for making the foods appropriate for young children. The latest edition has over 60 new recipes, including more with animal protein. "Being a mostly vegetarian parent raising a definitely carnivorous child and teaching hundreds of nutrition majors with different eating regimes, I strive to be open and accepting of everyone's food choices … " Lair writes. Most of the recipes focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and nuts; but Lair includes beef, chicken, and fish entrees as well. Nearly all of the recipes can be easily modified for babies six months and older. The book also contains chapters on foods for breast-feeding moms, food allergies and intolerances, how to start babies on homemade solid foods, and how to get older children interested in eating nutritious food with minimal stress.

I cannot imagine a more complete, user-friendly guide for those who want to bring delicious, whole food cooking to their family than Cynthia Lair's Feeding the Whole Family, along with online videos and the site's accompanying blog.


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