Hungry Monkey

hungry monkey

The first time I met Iris, she cuddled up to me on her couch and asked me to read her a book. We looked at an illustrated book of a girl’s travels in Paris, and Iris pointed out every detail. Then, she clambered between the arm of the couch and the wall, and announced that the hot dog stand was open. When I asked for a gluten-free bun, she didn’t blink. Just reached into the space behind the couch and pulled up my invisible hot dog.
“Thank you,” I said.
“Sure!” said Iris.
She was three.

When Danny first met Iris, she sat in our living room and announced, “My two favorite restaurants in Seattle are Lark and Union.” (Her parents informed us, quietly, that she had been listening to them talk about where they loved to eat. This kid picks up everything.)
Later in the day, after we had eaten gluten-free ginger cupcakes with lemon frosting (Iris gave them the thumbs up), we were all sitting around telling stories. Iris sat on the carpet in front of Danny, who was laying down with his back against the desk. When we all laughed particularly hard, and he waited a beat to breathe before laughing out loud, Iris turned to him, slapped him on the arm, and said, “That’s funny.”
(We say this every day.)
She was still only three.

When Little Bean first met Iris, she was in the ICU, connected to breathing and feeding tubes, hooked up to beeping monitors, small and vulnerable on that enormous bed. Iris entered the room, climbed onto the bed, and read Love and Kisses to Little Bean. She read this sweet little book full of blown kisses and giggling gooses with word-perfect enthusiasm and astonishing aplomb.
She was four years old.
We have read that book to Little Bean every day since.

How could we not adore Iris?

After reading Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater you will adore Iris too. Guaranteed. If you don’t, there’s something wrong with you.

Now, let me clear about this. The author of Hungry Monkey, Matthew Amster-Burton, is a really good friend of ours. We’re excited when we see him, Laurie, and Iris come to the door, bearing food, or cilantro seeds. (Two weeks ago, Iris planted cilantro in our garden, and this week the first green sprouts arose from the dark soil.) Matthew makes me laugh in emails and telephone conversations and in person. He is, frankly, one of the funniest human beings on the planet.

How can you resist buying a book about feeding children that includes the following passage?

“Iris is very into sprinkles, in the same sense that Robert Downey Jr. was very into cocaine. Typically, if I ask her to help put sprinkles on something, one-third of the sprinkles will end up on the cake and two-thirds will end up in Iris’s stomach. ‘I’m just tasting them,’ she’ll say innocently. This is always good for a laugh but, I have advised her, will probably not work in court any better than it did for Robert Downey Jr.”

You see? You already know Β— this is not your typical Feeding Baby book. Thank goodness. Every other one of those I have read is sanctimonious, terribly out of touch, and boring. This is the only one that has ever made me laugh.

I read the first draft of this book, and made suggestions, and the second draft of this book, and helped to organize its structure. I’m thanked in the acknowledgments. And the publishers asked me to give a quote for the back of the book. (I never thought I’d be on the same book cover as Anthony Bourdain.) Really, I am as entangled and hopelessly biased about this book as is possible.

But still, I know a good book when I read one. This is a great book.

Hungry Monkey, as the subtitle suggests, is the story of trying to raise a kid to love food. Not to be a food snob. (I still hate the word foodie, but I’ll forgive Matthew for using it.) Instead, Matthew reminds us all: “Food is fun, and you get to enjoy it three times a day, plus snacks!”

Matthew puts food on the table, good food, and Iris shares that food. It’s not all duck confit made from scratch, although there is some of that (and we’re excited about making duck hash soon). Matthew uses jarred baby food prunes to mix with Greek yogurt, frozen hash browns, and spinach in a bag. But he also makes Pad Thai for Iris, lobster rolls, and farfalle with tomato sauce and ham. That’s one of the parts of his book I love Β— how real he is. There is no preaching, no hysterics about only using local and organic food, no advice. It’s simply their story, which will make you laugh. And help you feed your kid (and possibly yourself) better as well.

When I read the first draft of this book, I wasn’t pregnant yet. When I read the second draft, I was, barely. Now that the book is actually here, Little Bean is very much in the world, devouring food. Now that she is here, we’ve seen some of our lofty ideals shatter. What matters is getting food to her. Before she was born, we knew we didn’t want to give her boring old brown rice cereal. Turns out she loves it. She also loves avocado, pulled pork, yams with ginger, and the eggs from my sister-in-law’s chickens, scrambled in a little lard. Still, the only food she really loves is when we feed her from our spoons, when we’re sharing a meal together.

Hungry Monkey informed me before we started to feed Little Bean. Matthew shows it, with Iris’s story: there doesn’t have to be baby food. Just feed kids what you eat. Expect them to be picky sometimes. (We’re in the grace period right now, when Little Bean will eat anything.) Enjoy it. Don’t worry so much.

I especially loved the chapter “You Fed Your Baby WHAT?” after Little Bean leaned out of my arms to eat head cheese, and then went back for more. Matthew also did his research, meticulously. You’ll learn a lot from this book, without being aware that you’re learning. I appreciated that, in particular, for this passage from the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2008:

“Although solid foods should not be introduced before 4 to 6 months of age, there is no current convincing evidence that delaying their introduction beyond this period has a significant protective effect on the development of atopic disease…This includes delaying the introductions of foods that are considered to be highly allergic, such as fish, eggs, and foods containing peanut protein.”

For awhile, Danny and I had been cautiously avoiding all the possible allergens. After I read this passage to him, we relaxed. Little Bean enjoyed her first salmon yesterday. She sucks on lemons, avidly. And she laps up plain yogurt like it’s the finest French chocolate.

(Still no gluten. Since celiac is an autoimmune disorder, not an allergy, and she has a 1 out of 22 chance of inheriting it, we are waiting awhile yet. And no peanuts. No thanks to the chance of anaphylactic shock.)

That’s the effect Hungry Monkey will probably have on you, too. Informed relaxation, all while laughing.

Danny isn’t much of a reader. He’s a chef, someone who lives in his hands, a mover. But every morning for the past weeks, he has asked me to read him Hungry Monkey while he fed Little Bean or while we drove around town. He has laughed so hard his belly hurt, made dinners from the recipes in the book, and was genuinely sad when it was all over.

Even if you don’t have a kid, and have no intention of one in your life, you’re going to want to read this book. Hungry Monkey. Go out and buy it.

We have to give a copy of this book away. (And a lovely new hardcover, not this advance copy that Little Bean chewed to bits on the bottom.) If you’d like to own a copy of the book, leave a comment about the joys of feeding your own children, or your feelings about food when you were a kid. We’ll choose the winner by random on Friday.

156 comments on “Hungry Monkey

  1. Michaela

    My now 3-year-old daughter is in the picky stage, which kills me. But among my victories: She eats goat cheese, avocado, shrimp and all kinds of other items that her dad didn’t try until his 20s. Even better? Among the list of reasons why she loves me (on the Mother’s Day card), she had her dad write, “because you make ravioli.”

  2. Kara

    I remember with fond memories my Dad cooking for my brother and I. He became a master of gluten free cooking when I was diagnosed at three. I would love this book!

  3. kirsten

    When I was 3, one of my favorite snacks was pate at my grandmother’s dinner parties. She’d tell all the guests what a sophisticated palate I had…

    Sounds like a great book! I’d love to have a copy.

  4. Chihiro

    I love your blog! I’m still in college, but I plan on feeding my children the same way I was–tofu, kabocha, and grated apples.

  5. Emily

    I’m just about to start my family and have been despairing of all the books I’ve seen out there (and cannot wait for your eventual book on the subject, I think you mentioned once?) This sounds like a wonderful book and I certainly find a way to get it, though I of course hope I win the competition.

  6. kickpleat

    I was the pickiest child ever (I feel sorry for my parents) and I'm generally still quite picky. I feel awful about it and I wish I could enjoy a homegrown tomato with just salt but I can't do it (with balsamic & tucked into a sandwich, okay). I've been wanting to read this book and I've got a hold on it at the library. I need to know the secrets!

  7. pola-bear

    I’m just about to start my family and have been despairing of all the books I’ve seen out there (and cannot wait for your eventual book on the subject, I think you mentioned once?) This sounds like a wonderful book and I certainly find a way to get it, though I of course hope I win the competition.

  8. Cape Cod Kitty

    I love this….the book sounds so wonderful.
    It seems the best childhood memories of food I have are of being in the kitchen with my mother as she made us 5 star meals 3 times a day….always bread from scratch, beautiful whole foods and incredible desserts were at every meal. We ate a lot of top quality seafood, and of course, home grown chicken and eggs as home was a chicken farm.
    There was also helping to write a cookbook with my mother as she always shared her wealth of recipes.
    Thanks, Shauna

  9. Julie Whitehorn

    My husband and I are omnivores and we ate up a storm until our kids came along, one who got hives from dairy, the other from citrus. No cream? No lemons? Shoot me now, right?! Yup, it was a drag at first, but we were determined to eat well and eat together. It forced us to be more alert and creative (sauce on the side). Eight years later the symptoms are gone, but our kids still challenge us to eat more adventurously and healthfully. They read labels, inspect produce, question origins and dabble in faux-sophisticated foodie talk. (“This tap water is deliciously minerally.”)

    I’m delighted to have cream and lemons back, but I wouldn’t change the past. It taught me that the value in any meal is the happy.

  10. Jeanne

    One thing I always try to remind people of is the concept of the “super-taster”–those people whose taste buds are so perceptive that foods generally taste overwhelming to them–that’s what we often call “picky.” My 9 y-o niece is a super-taster. She is very selective on what she will eat, but she can also eat a soup and tell you every herb and spice used to make it. It’s wild.

    We introduced our daughter to foods slowly, because we have so many allergies. She does have a life-threatening allergy to peanuts (you’re smart to avoid them). Now, though, at 9, she eats all sorts of things and does really well in restaurants (the Boat Street Cafe is her favorite!). So, slow introduction to foods isn’t necessarily bad.

    One thing I recommend to anyone is that if you like to eat out at nice restaurants, train your kid to eat at nice restaurants–take them early, make the experience good for you, your kid, and the other patrons, and they will learn how to eat in nice places. We did have to take a sabbatical from this around 2–they are just too rowdy to sit still for too long.

    I think a lot of what a kid eats is what the parents give them to eat. If you give them chicken tenders while you’re eating sushi, then they won’t think to eat sushi. My daughter loves octopus sushi–it cracks me up because she says she likes the way the tentacles “stick to her tongue”. Eek.

    I also think that kids develop tastes for things that they are given often. For example, our daughter will eat brown rice and nori until the cows come home because she has been given these since babyhood. Other kids look at her like she’s crazy when she brings this to school for lunch. Same with fish–where other kids won’t eat fish, our daughter askes for it all the time, I think because she has eaten it since babyhood.

    (No need to put me in the drawing–let others have a chance to read the book :)!)

  11. Jill

    I just found out that my husband and I are pregnant with our first and we are so excited to savor this blessing. Thank you for your suggestion, I will be reading it any way I can. The supply for books on how to raise children are more than plentiful and some time it helps to narrow the choices. Thank you.

  12. equisetaceae

    this looks like a great book! As someone with second generation celiac and all sorts of other food allergies, I’ve been thinking alot lately about how we are going to have a healthy non-fussy family. My partner and I are in the preparation and disussion phase of family planning and this book would definitely help us to ‘calm down’ a bit about the food in our life.

  13. Adrienne

    I was never particularly picky as a kid, but for a while my darling kid sister subsisted on nacho cheese doritos and deli ham. Oh, and the first time she had “salad” (we were on vacation and our cousins were eating it, so we were dying to try it) it was just a few leaves of lettuce with about 3/4 cup of hidden valley ranch dressing. We still bring up the “Julia, would you like some salad with your dressing?” joke at family gatherings.

    Oh and I’m thrilled to hear you say you don’t like the word foodie. I agree! I cannot stand it. So insipid. Blech.

  14. beyond

    i plan to feed my kids wholesome food that i will cook and that we will eat as a family. no awful processed lunchables for my kids! (famous last words? i hope not!)

  15. Elizabeth

    I was diagnosed with celiac at twenty-two months. Food, to my parents, was the enemy. To me, food has always been something to explore even as a small child. I loved baked potatoes, butter mixed with sugar (Straight. Gross, I know, but I loved it.), and peanut butter banana sandwiches on almond-rice bread. I was always the kid with the weird food but I loved what I had though I was quickly bored with eating the same thing over and over (and still am).
    Either way, I love the blog and am planning on cooking as many of the recipes here as I can.

  16. Isa

    My son is eight, and he’s absolutely against anything “spicy”. That’s in quotes because even if it’s bland but he hears us say “chile” or “spicy” he’ll say it’s too hot to eat. But he’ll eat curries and green chile sauces, so long as we don’t SAY the word spicy.

  17. Kristina

    My husband and I are looking forward to our first child. Lately it’s been our favorite joke to remark, while savoring a meal at one of our favorite restuarants, heaven help us if we have a picky eater! I’m very much looking forward to the fun of feeding our child!

  18. Summer

    I am grateful for a mother who regularly took to me the farmer’s market and to farms to pick or buy fresh produce.

    I have carried this on with my son. His favourite place to go is the market. On the weekends that we go, our menu for the following week is usually based on what caught his eye while we were there.

    Every year, we plant beans in a planter outside our door. He happily eats the fresh beans whenever he finds new ones.

    Knowing where the food has come from and involving him in every step has created in him a love of fresh food.

    He doesn’t do mushrooms, but honestly, when he emphatically begs me to buy asparagus, I learn to pick my battles.

  19. sarah

    What a wonderful book! I’m 13 weeks pregnant with our first child, and my husband, who lives to cook, is having a blast getting creative with pregnancy nutrition. We’re hoping to raise this kind of kid, who can enjoy the fancy stuff and the simple things, and this sounds like just the sort of philosophy I would like to know more about!! Also: aDORable.

  20. maddie

    I am so sad that I did not learn to love guacamole or steamed dungeness crab with lemon butter until I was 15. I’m hoping I will be able to prevent the same travesty in my own (future, which is not so distant now) children. Sounds like a fabulous book!

  21. me

    I find no greater joy than sitting down with my husband and 1-year-old son for dinner every night after work. It gives us the opportunity to share our love of food with him, talk with each other, and expose him to new, healthful options daily. I also love the perplexed look on people’s faces when I say that his favorite foods are quinoa, kale, duck, and asparagus.

    Thank you for pointing out this book! I look forward to reading it.

  22. katygirl

    I am so proud to say that I ate Oreo milkshakes for breakfast growing up. Not all the time, but not just once or twice. My mother was of the opinion that if I wanted to eat something, I should be allowed to eat it, pretty much wherever, whenever. Instead of making me a little pig-child stuffed full of Cheetos and root beer, this somehow helped me to develop an adventurous palate and to pay close attention to what my body is telling me I want and need to eat. And now that I’m in my 30s, gluten-free and vegetarian, I don’t regret a single delicious bite.

    I’d love to read this book and pass it on to my dear Mama.

  23. Lyndie

    For awhile now, my little girl (15 months) has been pretending to cook in her little kitchen while I cook in mine, but what has really been making my evening is that lately when we sit down to dinner she takes her first bite of food and says “ummm. My mama.”

    Now if that doesn’t make you feel appreciated, I don’t know what will!

  24. Pamela

    I was, and (when forced to examine my eating habits)still am a fussy eater. I use the super taster excuse. My mother was surprisingly accommodating and I rarely felt different to my 3 siblings. My mother cooked food. She didn’t cook children’s food. We were always encouraged to serve ourselves and the only rule was that if you put it on your plate you really were expected to eat it but there was no minimum quantity. Equally, if as a child you made a mistake with the quantity you were not forced to eat. I don’t have children of my own unfortunately but I do have nephews and nieces and god-daughters and treat their eating in the same way my mother did. I feed them the same food I want to eat myself, prepared with love and attention to detail and a gentle pushing of boundaries.

  25. Kathy A.

    I feel so blessed that my mother fed me such a wide variety of foods when I was young. Nothing fancy, but I grew up eating artichokes and rhubarb, snow peas and asparagus — pretty much anything that grew anywhere within 100 miles of our house.

    If I didn’t like something, it was always greeted with a “good, there’s more for me!” I quickly learned to like a lot of things. πŸ™‚

  26. sharon

    Much to my husband’s and my chagrin, our 16m old son Cole is quite the picky eater. We keep trying and trying and not making a big deal of it… and if he eats hotdogs a few times a week, so be it. They say it takes 10-15 attempts at some foods for babies to get used to them… Sounds like a fun book!

  27. Angie

    I would love a copy of this to give as a gift at a baby shower! This sounds like the most sensible baby-feeding book ever. If I don’t win, I’ll go out and get it. Thanks for the introduction. Angie

  28. Ellen

    i was firmly in the super-taster camp as well, coupled with extreme stubbornness! my parents always tried to trick me into eating things that i didn’t like, most notably fish. i have grown to appreciate the taste of well-prepared seafood, but when i was a kid they automatically doused it in tartar sauce, something that i hate to this day. simple is definitely better!

  29. Tori

    I’m not feeding any children, yet but I hope to feed my kids the way my Dad fed me.

    After tasting baby food for the first time shortly after I was born my Dad took the initiative to start seasoning my food. My Mom kept telling him that it was unseasoned for a reason but he couldn’t understand why anyone would eat unsalted spinach. He put garlic powder and pepper on scrambled eggs for me and I would gobble them down.

    After he became a single parent his morning routine became harder. His solution was to cut the nipple off of a bottle and then mix up cereal, fruit puree and milk. He’d put me in my car seat in the bathroom so I could feed myself while he showered. It saved him the time of trying to feed me by spoon in the mornings and certainly kept things from getting messy.

    I would eat anything except brussel sprouts. I think his approach certainly worked.

  30. Dawn

    My soon-to-be 11 year old daughter appreciates a wide variety of foods. She loves her greens, spinach, salads, broccoli, peas, etc. Is not a fan of acorn squash because (no matter what I do to it) “it tastes plain”. She does not care for Thai food either, but sushi is one of her favorite things. I love it when I tell her what I’m cooking for dinner and her response is an enthusiastic “mmmmmm!”

    It sounds like a great book to read and then pass on to my sisters who are in the process of introducing their young children to the wide world of eating.

  31. Kathy

    Confession. I introduced our 4 year old grandson to Dick’s. Moving out of the routine, he had nonetheless fallen asleep from 4-7:30 pm. We let him rest, then awakened him for dinner. “Papa” hit the hay around 10, but the two of us were still going strong watching Kung Fu Panda. At 11:20 I proposed an outing, and in that way that you can always count on a four year old, he was game. I settled on the relatively subdued Holman Rd. location and left him close by in the car as I ordered. He crawled up to the front seat for this treat, which he uncharacteristically ate in its entirety, along with the milk he’d asked for. Dipping each french fry, just so, into the little tub of catsup. Unwrapping the burger, section by section. As we left, he called out, “Goodbye letters, goodbye star.” I turned as I drove away, and this time really noticed the star.

    On the next visit, as he crawled between us in the morning, he paused, and then asked, “Don’t you think we should go to Dick’s?”

    Can you say that you really know Seattle if you haven’t been to Dick’s? At midnight?

  32. dangrdafne

    Oscar Mayer Bologna on white Maier’s bread made by my big sister with Green Kool-aid to drink. White American cheese on white Maier’s bread grilled to perfection by my mother with chocolate milk to drink.
    Jif creamy Peanut Butter on Nabisco Graham Crackers made by my Dad with Vanilla Carnation Milk to drink.
    Gluten filled childhood memories : )

  33. Kathleen

    My kids (now 6 & 9) ate whatever we ate from very early on. As toddlers they seemed to love everything. Now they complain about almost everything I make, but they never choose to skip a meal. I think it's more about protesting than actually not liking the food I make. I'm sure when they're older they'll be glad they got to try a lot of things at home.

    I also agree with Jeanne about bringing them to eat at nice restaurants at an early age. We've been doing that for quite some time, too.

  34. Angela

    Wow this sounds like an incredible book. I grew up on lots of processed foods and later had IBS, ulcers, polyps, and celiac. My husband grew up in a home where things were made from scratch. We’ve had an incredible merging of tastes and habits. My children have become food snobs in that they naturally gravitate towards the healthier. From choices of cheeses to breads to meats. Not to mention that my older son decided he didn’t want his birthday cake in favor of spinach. I never imagined kids who would on their own choose the right things. Thanks for offering!

  35. The Mighty RandR

    You’ve sold me on this book! Sign me up! As for food, I’m a big fan, ever since I was a kid. Can’t remember turning a single thing down.

  36. Dolores

    thanks for letting me know about this book!! I love books! I love cooking for my three kids!! they are picky and one is autistic in a strict diet, so I need creativity, fun, nourishment and more fun to feed my kids… I already love Hungry Monkey.. thanks again!

  37. Jessica

    There is a salsa that has been in my family since before I was born–the owner of the Mexican restaurant that makes the salsa is an old friend of my grandfather.

    Before I could even walk, my family would find me on top of the kitchen table, eating salsa by the handful, mouth raw and eyes running from the spice of it.

    It’s still something I love to eat, and do every chance I get, with home-made corn tortilla chips.

  38. MamaFeelgood

    I loved taking the time to make my little ones baby food. He was eating baba ghanouj as soon as he could hold his head up without support. He still devours refried beans with gusto and will fight your for your guacemole at age 2.

  39. csbozeman

    I love feeding my daughter avocado, string cheese, home made blueberry pancakes and anything else we might be eating. Sharing the thai sticky coconut rice with fresh mango with her was the highlight of my week. This book sounds like a wonderful read and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

  40. Karen Christensen

    I heard once that to raise an adventurous eater, you had to expose them to everything before the age of two. By that time they’re walking and putting everything into their mouths and they need an aversion to poisons by not desiring them as they have not been introduced to them. That said, I had a wonderfully diverse exposure to food when I was a kid – escargot at 5, liver at 3, all sorts of veggies including my favorite bitter greens… and I still hate carrots. What can you do?

  41. simplesavvy

    I don’t have any kids yet. However, I DO Have a one-year-old nephew who has picked up the habit of grunting with pleasure while he eats, like his father. In fact, he starts drooling (the baby, not my brother) whenever he sits in his high chair because he knows food is coming.

    The few times that I’ve fed my nephew, I give him too little food with every spoonful, and he lets me know how wrong I am. Now this is a baby who enjoys food.

  42. Dr. Jean Layton

    This sounds like the book to really let folks know how to feed their kids. I know when I fed my twins their first oysters (at 4) I got lots of flack from people who thought that it was too sophisticated a taste for that age.

    Yesterday, I had the joy of being taken to dinner by my twins (now 10) and hearing them debate the relative merits of duck confit and prosciutto wrapped wild halibut.
    Best of all, when the food arrived, they looked it over to appraise the presentation, then devoured every bite.
    I would love to have this book to add to the Bellingham Gluten Intolerance Group library. Maybe if I don’t win it, I’ll splurge a purchase a copy as a gift.

  43. Tamiko

    One morning I fed my 3-year old daughter crunchy peanut butter and homemade peach jam on toast. I’m not sure why it was so special that day–maybe it was the jam. But she pumped both arms in the air like a football referee, and walked barefoot on the white kitchen tile, saying, “Mommy, this is so happy for me.”

  44. Tyra

    My 21-month-old daughter is in a picky-eater phase. Just today, though, she finished off a small pile of fried okra … because she started dipping it in honey mustard. I considered it a victory. Would love to read the book.

  45. Susie

    This book sounds wonderful and exactly the sort of approach I hope to use one day should we make the leap into parenthood. I do know I developed an aversion to baby food once I was five – my mother feeding my younger brother conned guillable me into a spoonful of mashed something terrible. I vowed if I had kids of only feed them homemade baby food but I think it’s pretty clear the best laid plans are often set aside when it comes to kids.

  46. hanna

    I think I will have to go out and buy this book. Unless of course I win it here.
    I struggle with my 18 month old and getting her to eat, She didn’t really eat solids until about 9 months. Sometimes I think she is going to fade away. I’m always comparing her to her 3 yr old brother who will eat anything, and lots of it! I try to relax about it – I think she’s just a little girl with a little appetite. I tell myself off for worrying.
    This book sounds delightful and lighthearted. Just what I need. To help me to enjoy serving food to my little dot.

  47. Elisa

    When I was little the only way my mom could get me to eat veggies was to sneak them in. I grew to love zucchini through her homemade (low sugar) zucchini bread and spinach through her spinach egg pie. She always managed to sneak them by me, her incredibly stubborn daughter.

  48. brooke

    My dad taught me well when it came to food. As a child I learned to garden and cook and love with food. Food is the language in which I speak and understand love.

  49. Megan

    I was kind of a picky eater as a kid, but as a “foodie” adult, I credit my folks with this kind of laid back approach…lots of no pressure exposure to different foods. I am excited to introduce our soon to arrive first kiddo to all kinds of taste…sounds like this book would be a good guide.

  50. Patricia

    It’s so refreshing hearing about this book, because although i don’t have kids of my own, i occasionally babysit for some kids whose parents seems to feed them just what they eat–perhaps just mashed up a bit more. and i admire that. someday i want to feed my kids kinda like that. so this book sounds awesome!

  51. Vincci

    When I was a kid (and even now), I really liked vegetables. Since we’re Chinese, my mom always just blanched veggies like Chinese broccoli so that they were cooked but still crisp, then sauteed them in a little bit of oil before pouring oyster sauce on top. It never, ever made sense to me when other kids complained about not liking their vegetables!

  52. La NiΓ±a

    I ate so much peanut butter and jelly as a kid that my mother had me tested for food allergies to peanuts. I have no idea why, but I must have had some weird reaction. Then they made me not eat chocolate in an elimination diet. That was horrible.

    The good news is that I was not allergic to peanuts or chocolate.

    But I hated tomatoes as a kid. Now I love them. And when I was sick, my mom used to try to make me drink hot milk. It would get this nasty skin on top. I remember bolting out the kitchen door, out into the backyard, and down the alleyway in my pajamas- with a fever- because I did not want to touch my lips to that glass.

    Anything my Russian grandmother made, however, I would willingly eat. Maybe because she called it “nice.” “Come on honey, eat this nice sardine.” “Okay grandma.” Go figure.

    Can’t wait for “Hungry Monkey.” Hurrah Matthew!

  53. Shauna

    My daughter Caroline is 8 months old, so she just started solids about two months ago. The girl eats EVERYTHING. My husband and I are relieved that even though we still don’t have much of a sleeper on our hands, at least we have a good, hearty eater!

  54. Ursula

    My husband and I are new to parenting with a 7.5mo old. I follow your blog with special attention to Little Bean; she’s just a few months older and experiences so much more food. My husband and I aren’t picky eaters and we want to raise an adventurous eater. Allergies don’t really run in our family so I’m going to open up the flood gates. On a recent trip to the beach we’ve found he likes to eat sand – not the food adventure I had in mind πŸ™‚

  55. Heather Pelczar

    My husband and his father are both celiacs. That said we are keeping our daughter, May, in a gluten free home. Unfortunately, as May has witnessed (she doesn’t miss a beat- even at 20 months) my husband is also very sensitive to legumes of any kind. She must have overheard a conversation at one point, because now, each time we eat beans and rice (always black- is there any other kind?) she says, “I’m a fart! I’m a fart!” Cracks me up every time.

  56. Alexandra@Chefspiration

    I don’t have children of my own yet…but one of my favourite eating memories as a child was when I picked cherries off of my grandfathers tree and my grandma would make cherry pies…this was one of my favourite things πŸ™‚

  57. sk

    thank you for this post! i can’t wait to read it. it sounds like a great gift for new parents, too.

    if my memory serves me correctly, the food at my house when i was growing up was really bad. or, at least really boring. i only ever remember eating chicken, brown rice, and steamed broccoli– with the occasional can of beets thrown in. because of those canned specimens, i am just now getting over my fear of beets (it turns out fresh beets, or at least freshly roasted beets are WONDERFUL. who knew?).

    i know it’s easier said than done, but i vow to try my hardest to raise an adventurous eater, should i be so lucky as to have kids….

  58. CatherineMarie

    I grew up going out to restaurants, and eating impeccably fresh food. My mom always insisted we have a bite of everything, a ‘Brownie’ helping.

    My mom made baby food just from everything my parents ate, mashed.ground up.

    As a result, in London, at age 4 or 5 I knew enough to call Room Service and order profiteroles for myself and my little sister for dinner!

  59. nimrodiel

    I work in a daycare for toddlers.

    The first time I was there on a lunch day they served tuna noodle casserole I laughed so hard.

    Fifteen children all picked up one or two noodles, scrunched up their faces and ended up eating just the vegetables and fruit that was part of the meal. Honestly though, it was rather bland and strange tasting tuna noodle casserole. But it’s the last time I’ve seen some of these kids eat all the veggies and fruit. Including those ones that only eat fruit normally.

    I’d love to read the book. I’m child free at the moment, but working in the environment I do I love books like this one.

  60. mindy

    my 3rd baby is just starting to eat solids, although i am doing it a bit differently this time. i followed all the rules before & my older 2 kids have allergies with different foods. this time i am going by what the book "Nourishing Traditions" suggests. the first solid my baby ever had was a soft boiled egg yolk & she loved it! anyway, this book sound intriguing. if i don't win i'm sure i will get it from the library. thanks for the heads up!

  61. Rachel

    I loved liverwurst as a kid (I have tried it as an adult but the taste isn’t the same as what I remember) My youngest loves granola for breakfast while the older won’t touch it. The younger will only eat peanut butter for lunch while the older inhales everything put before her. I have to admit my favorite times feeding them is when I have made a meal from scratch and they thank me for it unprompted.

  62. Stargirl

    I remember a whole six months when I was kid that I ate top ramen noodles, rice krispies, milk, and ketchup. That was it. I think my mom cried when I finally came out of it and said that I wanted to eat sweet and sour chicken with noodles and rice.

    I hope that my (future) kid never does that, but I also hope that I can be creative like my mom and roll with the punches.

    Thanks for offering a wonderful book as a giveaway!

  63. Sirena

    It’s always a struggle to feed my beloved niece and nephew, 2 and 5. Once I arrive to babysit, they assure me with wide eyes, “we already eatened!” I set out the spread with the knowledge from their mom that they haven’t. Plates of pasta, pita bread, turkey and boiled eggs, and I ask them only to smell each item and tell me what it makes them think of. My nephew soon comes around and gobbles some eggs, some turkey, then a yogurt. But my niece’s response is the same each time. “this stinky, this stinky, this stinky.” She doesn’t eat a bite. Later on, she asks me to open the fridge, and – faster than I am by half – I catch her seconds after she has shoved three hot dogs into her mouth. Sigh. Will it be like this to feed my own children? I fear I really need the hungry monkey!

  64. T.S.

    I love that my mom always made me try everything on my plate at least once. If we didn’t like something, we didn’t have to finish it, but she didn’t make anything else. Because of that, picky children have driven me crazy my entire life. It’s so fun to try new things! Since discovering my celiac disease, I’m so glad I’m not a picky eater. Could you imagine being gluten-free and picky? Adventerous eating certainly serves me well in my gluten-free adventures.

  65. Esther Bezzy

    Sounds like a wonderful book!! My seven month old daughter loves to eat with us. Her second food was actually avocado (unconventional, I was told. But why not? Full of nutrition and delicious), which is one of her absolute favorites! I can’t wait to give her a fresh fig this summer……

    My husband and I are trying to be relaxed and sensible. Going by our daughter’s cues. He has no allergies, thank goodness. I have many (most are just skin reactions but honeydew and cantaloupe make my throat swell), and am celiac. This book sounds much more along our philosophy than all the other feeding books I’ve browsed. Thank you for bringing it to attention!


  66. caro

    When I was a kid I loved to pretend to be a pioneer. I would eat pioneer foods like hardtack and ground-up Cheerios and (thankfully not poisonous) berries from the yard. I was a forager by the age of four!

  67. Andrea

    Some of my favorite memories of my newly-minted 14 year old and food:
    – at two, she finished the Thai-inspired pasta dish that was too spicy for me.
    – at 9 she tasted Moosewood’s Spicy Peanut dip and itemized the ingredients she could taste “hmm, I think that’s cumin…”
    – her favorite foods now include samosas, sunomono salad, balsamic anything, beans any way, and rapini with shallots and lemon.
    – probably her favorite food of all time is soup. Almost any kind of soup, but she loves lentil.
    – just the other day she had two friends over and we put out all the fixin’s for make-your-own pizza. These kids did not know what goat cheese or bocconcini were. They do now!

    Daughter #2 doesn’t love soup or beans, and isn’t into spices, but she loves calamari and mussels!

  68. babyjenks

    i don’t have kids yet, but hope to start soonish.

    when i was a child i was the kid in my family who would eat almost anything (except for bell peppers and beets- which is still true). i ate the whole grain bread and milk and liver with onions.
    my parents fed us all sorts of diverse things. now that i’m an “adult” i realize how unusual it was to have a mother cooking chinese and indian food at home in the early 80’s when those foods did not come from her culture.

    i’m lucky i guess.

    have a wonderful time with your garden; will you give us some photos? i miss the northwest garden season and how well things grow.


  69. Jody

    I was really hoping to see a post including what you’ve been feeding your daughter, as my youngest is just now starting to experiment with food … and here it is. Thanks so much for sharing. This book sounds wonderful too.

  70. Karen

    I have three boys. I got the first two to adore broccoli by telling them–craftily, while they were in the throes of dinosaur-love–that they were trees, of course, and ONLY the biggest and strongest, and most gentle dinosaurs can eat trees.

    “I’m not sure you’re a big enough dinosaur to eat those trees,” I’d say, eyeing the pile of broccoli.

    “Oh, yes I am!” they’d yell, and gobble it down.

    My third child is too smart for that. Everything green, at first: “No. Nope. Uh-uh.” I shrugged and left it on his plate.

    Then one day he saw me drinking a green smoothie.

    “JUICE?” he crooned. (We limit juice intake, for the sake of his diapers. He’s two.)

    “Yep, juice,” i said. “Oh, did you want some?”

    “JUICE!” he hollered, and slurped down a whole cupful of frozen fruit, banana and spinach.

    Now he’ll eat peas, especially if he’s given a spoon. We consider this great progress. We encourage healthy eating, but if they don’t like one vegetable, there’s always another one that’s just as healthy. Or fruit. Dr. Spock said that if kids eat plenty of fruit, they don’t need veggies.

  71. Adrienne

    When my kids were little I tried my best to ignore all the “advice” I got about food. I fed them whatever, whenever and now they are both very adventurous (although, yes, at times picky) eaters. I cringe that my s-i-l still makes my neice eat a watery gruel-like pablum before bed and brings her “special food” to dinner parties — she’s six! (The niece, not her mom.) Would love to slip her this book! Love the blog and your writing. My husband is celiac so the recipes, stories and advice are so helpful.

  72. Aimee Mayer

    When I was a kid, my mom could get me to eat nearly anything, if she ate it and didn’t call it by a name kids associate with “Ew! Yucky!” So I loved liver (beef), brussels sprouts (baby cabbage), and other foods until one day when my mom’s friends declared the liver absolutely delicious. From that day forward I wouldn’t eat liver without a wrinkly nose, and now that I’m cooking myself, I won’t make it, though I know how healthy it is for me. I still love baby cabbage though!

  73. Stephanie

    I have very fond memories of food from my childhood.

    My most fond memory, or so I’m told, it when I was just about 9 months old. My mother was preparing a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs for my father, my older sister and herself. I was anxious to eat as always. Exhausted from dealing with an over-active 2 1/2 year old and a 9 month old eating machine (that would be me), she took a gamble. In lieu of preparing a separate homemade “baby-safe” dinner (I refused to eat jarred baby food), she put spaghetti and meatballs in the baby food processor; garlic, spices and all.

    That turned out to be a momentous dinner. From what my mother tells me, I performed my first “happy dinner dance” while dining on spaghetti and meatballs.

    The rest is history.

  74. Joan

    When I was pregnant with baby #2, I ended up in the hospital with bleeding at 28 weeks. Since Tom was spending most of his time with me, my mother took care of Timothy. My aunt and uncle were in town so my folks took them to a fine restaurant.

    Mom ordered oysters Rockafeller. True to his nature of loving and eating anything and everything, Timothy begged to try some of Grammy’s oysters. She warned him that he wouldn’t like them, but he insisted. He slurped down the first and proceeded to eat half of hers.

    I laughed when she told me. He really will eat anything.

  75. Hippy RN

    Our 7 month old Jayantstarted eating solids about a month ago. I was so nervous for him to have anything except my breast milk but we thought we’d try it. I went out and bought some Earth’s Best Organic Whole Grain Rice Cereal and poured a generous portion of expressed breast milk in it. With Jayant sitting in the highchair, I cautiously brought the spoon to his mouth and as it got about halfway there, he grabbed the spoon out of my hand and shoved it in his mouth! It was like he was saying, “It’s about time!” Ever since, he has loved everything that we’ve given to him!

  76. Jen

    I’m an Aunt to all my friends’ kids and I do everything I can to instill a love for food in the kids. It sometimes drives my friends mad when the kids try all sorts of new things for me, but really, what kid can resist chomping veggies like a dinosaur (lots of roaring) or eating with their hands (messy = tasty)? While the kids need to be relatively well behaved at the table, I make trying new stuff fun.

  77. Anonymous

    I was a picky eater as a child, but now I pretty much eat everything (with a few exceptions). I with I had introduced more foods to my now 5 year old.. he’s very picky. I’m still hoping he’ll eventually eat almost everything but right now it’s frustrating! Hopefully it will go better with #2.

  78. Il Fornaio

    My mom was a pastry chef when I was a kid, so I think I was born to love sugar and frosting, but I basically ate nothing else as I kid– french fries, grilled cheese, plain pasta. Amazing to me now how I survived without getting scurvy. I only hope my future children can be better eaters πŸ™‚

  79. Vana

    It is simply wonderful to read all of this. I developed a gluten intolerance and cows milk protien allergy a little later in life (early 20’s)and my world has changed. (For the better if you ask me.) Thank you for hope of being real, organic, healthy, but most of all….not paranoid when it comes to feeding my own children. Thank you! PS—I”d love to be the winner of the book. πŸ™‚

  80. Meg

    I am blessed by one fairly picky 4 year old and one adventurous 2 year old and this subject fascinates me. Are their differences innate (I sometimes think so) or the result of changes in my attitude when starting them out? I certainly was more relaxed about allergies, salt and butter with the second and he very quickly started rejecting plain vegetable purΓ©es and insisting on more flavor. His brother, who had no salt or butter until he was 18 months old or so, still prefers his veggies plain!

    Sounds like a great book – if I don’t win it, I’ll surely be buying it!

  81. Bear and Bones Mama

    Boy, where to start?? I have two boys, 4 and 2. The 2 year old still eats almost anything – except, get this, cookies. He does not like cookies. Crackers, chocolate, etc, yes. He'll hand me a cookie back. The 4 year old, forget it. If it's not mac and cheese FROM A BOX then he will barely tolerate it. Thank goodness for Annies gluten free m&c. He used to be a good eater until he turned 3, so I figure I have about 7 months left of the 2 year old eating before I buy stock in Annies.
    I'd love this book for ideas and help and a good laugh! Thanks!

  82. Anonymous

    Our firstborn was a real dairy kid as a toddler. She really enjoyed yogurt and cheese, but her favorite was what she pronounced “Nolt” (milk). She had warm milk every night before bed time, and she would suck down a big glassful without stopping to breath, then take her sleepy fullness to the pillow. She turns 12 in 22 days and she will still drink a glass of warm milk before bed when she isn’t particularly tired.

    Please enter us in the drawing.

    : )

  83. thatedeguy

    With our first, we basically counted on our DayCare folks to tell us when he could eat certain things. There isn’t a whole lot of education available for new parents aside from the “don’t”s. The doctors and everyone else are sure to tell you not to feed them something, but nothing about when you can (not should) start feeding them things. With our second (born just a month ago), I plan on taking a much more advanced approach, in large part due to your tales about Lucy and how she loves her food. I love food, I love to cook and eat it. I really do want to share that with my children.

  84. Gem

    I was really picky as a kid, and it’s only been since I started training as a chef that my culinary horizons have broadened (though I’m sure it didn’t help that I was living in the middle of nowhere and you could get nothing but the basics).
    I sincerely hope that when I have a child I can bring them up to love and enjoy any and all food, without the limitations that I had growing up.
    This book sounds fascinating, you can be sure I’ll be buying it if I don’t win

  85. Anonymous

    We’re looking forward to starting our family soon and couldn’t be more perplexed about how to feed a child and how to navigate the whole food allergy issue (I have allergies, not celiac). I also can’t say I have great food memories from childhood – my mother is a pretty bad cook. The peanut butter and banana sandwiches stuck, though, and we hope to do better by our children. We would love to receive this book!

  86. Lizzie.Civ.

    This looks like an amazing book! My husband and I are trying to have our first child and are always talking about how our children will be big eaters just like us. Maybe winning this book would bring us good luck. πŸ™‚

  87. stacy175

    Enjoy the grace period where Little Bean’s eating everything! If she’s anything like our girl, soon enough she’ll try to go on a strict diet of grilled cheese and air.

    The book looks great!

  88. Mary

    Growing up I was lucky enough to have a mom that loved to bake and cook. Nothing too fancy, just good, comforting, stick to your ribs kind of food. As I grew older my tastes expanded and I truly began to love food, in all shapes, tastes, smells and colors. Now that my own daughter is one I cannot tell you how glad it makes me to watch her inhale almost everything. There are exceptions of course (I have them too!) and then there was the week that she only ate string cheese and bananas (it was a wonder she could still poop…).

    I think taking a realistic approach to kids eating is the key, remembering that I’m not always hungry and that there are certain things I don’t care for either. It sounds like Hungry Monkey would be a joy, and a chuckle, to read. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

  89. Dustin, Sarah, and Abigail

    When my 2-year-old daughter was a baby, I was big on making all of her baby food. I think the real tastes and textures helped her enjoy food. It also opened up new foods to me. I wouldn’t feed her anything that I wouldn’t eat, and I found that instead of hating yams, I actually love them!
    Now that she’s bigger, we’ve gotten her involved in the garden. She’ll walk around picking herbs, vegetables, and berries, often eating them before they make it to the bucket. She understands where her food comes from, and she had a part in growing it.

  90. MS

    No kids of my own yet, but when I was a kid, I ate pretty much anything I could get my hands on, with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables from my grandparents’ friends’ gardens. Raw tomato, raw onion, or raw potato, it didn’t matter, I loved it all! Except for my grandmother’s pickled beets (weird color) or pickled peaches (it just sounded weird).

  91. Writergrl

    Creating new meals for my two baby girls has given me greater pleasure and excitement than the best adult dinner party I had ever thrown. I’d love to read Hungry Monkey, whether I get the free copy or have to get it on my own.

  92. Jo

    I was always an adventurous eater as a child (which my mother appreciated, since she was forever struggling with my picky little sister!). My love of cooking and eating developed when I was very young; now I am one of the most confortable cooks in my group of 20-something friends.

  93. Merav

    I’m a student, and I don’t have any children, but I love children, especially funny, witty ones like Iris. I’d love to read this book!

  94. Karen

    My little one is 4 now, and we’re expecting our second. Feeding is an adventure, one day something may be devoured but the next he’ll turn his nose up at it. The other day surprised me when I asked about lunch. He wanted leftovers of ‘the most delicious thing ever’, when I pressed him for more details I realized it was the homemade enchiladas (sauce made from our tomato sauce he helped pick and can). We’ve made it twice since.

  95. Janel

    How can anyone not love the way a child can messily devour a favorite food? I've taken thousands of photos over the years, but my favorites remain the ones of our kids eating & making a right mess!

  96. nava

    I love feeding my son; he really will eat anything. I don’t now why we are still surprised when he does things like snatch the raw onions from our sandwiches and devour them with relish. Our only struggle right now is to keep on feeding him interesting foods, rather than get lazy and toss him stand-by meals when we are too overwhelmed/lazy to cook for ourselves. We are also very thankful that apart from celiac he doesn’t seem to have any food problems, and that food challenge has only made cooking for him seem like more of an adventure: “how can we make such-and-such so E can eat it too?” or “what can we give him that’s similar so he doesn’t attack people’s plates to sample what they are eating?”.

  97. Palmer Public Library

    Don’t have kids, don’t feed kids, but I love food, I love books, and I love laughing – this sounds right up my alley!

  98. Jo

    This sounds like my kind of book!!! Can't wait to read it. My 9 yr old is now inventing his own recipes. He was very pleased with a recent one (a banana-apple 'fruesli') which he explained was sweetened with "pure maple syrup and a little Rapadura, but you could use crushed dates to give it a caramelly flavour"! I love seeing them enjoy good food, and not turn their noses up at baby spinach & salmon quiche & kalamata olives & sun-dried tomatoes & shitake mushrooms & homemade spelt & rye grain bread… So many kids we know will only eat it if it comes in a packet and advertised on TV!

  99. Grace

    I have always enjoyed eating and still do although it is gluten-free. I am expecting my first grandbaby in October and can’t wait to introduce her/him to different foods, a lot of gluten-free from granny!

  100. Allison the Meep

    I was so happy when my son was finally old enough to eat solids, and we videotaped him devouring mashed avocado when he was 6 months old.

    Also, we were cautious of the peanut thing too. Next time around I’ll introduce it a little sooner, now that I’ve seen that recommendation from the AAP. But when we gave our son peanut butter for the first time, we made sure it was at the doctor’s office, during a checkup. Just in case.

  101. Jocelyn Campbell

    Oh, this book sounds like so much fun! Especially for my sister, who has a very picky three year old! My kids always ATE. Now 14 and 21, I never worried they weren’t getting enough, and they grew tall and healthy! The only hard rule we had was that they had to try whatever food it was, but it was okay if they didn’t like it. The 21 year old rebelled a bit as a teenager, but now voluntarily makes many of the whole foods choices she grew up with. Food is one of the hugest joys in life. What a way to nurture any one of any age–feed them well!

    Thanks Shauna, for your wonderful blog and suggestions!


  102. Lola

    Oh, Shawna! What a perfect book for this particular time in life. I have a 13-month-old boy who has been accompanying me to lunch in local Chicago restaurants since he was born, at least three times a week. These lunches are the only vestiges of my former social life that exist, and my dining companion is far more entertaining then I could ever have imagined! At this tender age, my boy has already delved into a number of Thai, Chinese, Italian, and Mexican dishes. The favorite? Thai basil fried rice chock full of fresh veggies and chicken. He actually pounds the table when he sees the steaming plate coming and shrieks in glee. I wonder where he gets that? πŸ™‚

  103. Tara

    Thanks so much for alerting me to this book! It sounds like it was written by my baby-feeding soul mate. I never read a book about how to feed my first child when he was born (he's now 3), just went at it on instinct, and the fervent hope that he'd love food as much as his dad and I do. I am so, so proud to say that, so far, we've succeeded. We never fed him traditional baby food, just gave him tastes of what we were having, and he now eats almost anything we put in front of him! (Well, we're still working on lettuce. He thinks it's leaves.) From authentic carbonara to sushi (the nori is his favorite part) to homemade gf blueberry pancakes every Sunday, good food has a central role in his everyday life, and I revel in it! I think the hardest part is not teaching him to be a food snob, because he hears his parents talking about and critiquing food all the time (it's our job). To that end, he loves peanut M&M's, french fries and mayonnaise, and hot dogs. You've got to balance all that brown rice and organic milk somewhere! πŸ™‚ I'm hoping that our tactics work as well on his 8-month old brother . . .

    I can't wait to read Hungry Monkey. I wonder if I can find an online book discussion of it with like-minded parents? Please, Shauna, let us know if you hear of one!

  104. chasse

    I’m newly pregnant and already experiencing the preachers. You had me sold on the book with the word “real.” I grew up sharing meals with my family and plan to do the same in the near future.

  105. Angielala

    My niece is 3 now and she’s passed her finicky phase. She loves salmon, eggs, yogurt, and is usually willing to try a bite of something if she sees someone else really enjoying the food. Now, if I can just break her addition to ketchup, I’ll be very please indeed. πŸ™‚

  106. kairu

    I don’t have children, but I remember vividly, as a child (now I am 28), being told that I had to try everything, even if I didn’t finish it. But I had to finish it if I wanted dessert. I remember frog’s legs (age 4) and pigeon soup (age six), and bowls of pho with tripe. I have been told that I once refused (age 5) to eat a sweet soup with white wood ear fungus (in case you couldn’t tell, I am Chinese), declaring that the promised candy “just wasn’t worth it.” I remember picking the black beans out of the black bean chicken we always ordered at our favorite Chinese restaurant. I have hated those black beans my entire life. Other than that, I have very few food phobias, for which I thank my parents every day.

  107. Mrs. G.F.

    My Dad used to make pancakes for us. At the end, he would make a pan sized pancake for himself.

    I started making pan sized pancakes for my children, and we call them Papa Pancakes. The best part is you don’t have to stand there as long!

  108. K-Sweet

    My 3-year old son refuses to eat eggs without a generous splash of Lea and Perrins. He learned that from his great-grandmother when he was just 1-year old. She is so proud. πŸ™‚

  109. Amy

    I love to eat and except for an averision to tomatoes until very recently I always have. Maybe I will learn to like blue cheese and guava, only time will tell.

  110. sdlave

    We are all hearty eaters and my fondest memories are gathering around the dinner table as my parents always insisted on a family meal. Being of mixed ethnicity, we were essentially BORN into ‘foodies’ as nothing we tasted outside our home was EVER as good as what was cooked inside. My 11 y.o. son and almost 3 y.o. twins are hardcore ‘real’ ramen aficionados, sushi-vores and disdain almost nothing.

  111. Jamie

    I love the idea of feeding our child whatever we eat. My friend’s daughter learned to love everything bagels with olive tapenade at a very young age.

  112. jbeach

    I positively can’t wait to read this book. I just read Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck and I think she inhabits many of the same sentiments, although without the humor…I love laughing more than anything and can’t wait to devour this book. Thanks for sharing your experience with it!

  113. Tamara

    I love food…any and everything. My husband…not so much. He can be boring, but he’s willing to try new things because he loves me and knows how much I love food. Now our two kids are a different story. My daughter who has begun to cook with me is becoming less picky and an adventurer in trying new things. My son however, is not there yet…but I have hope. Food was always what brought my family together when I was growing up. I hope it continues to be that way in my family.

  114. lisaz

    As a child – I was incredibly lucky to have parents who made us TRY everything. If we didn’t like it, we could pass it by the next time (in theory anyway, there was an awful lot of liver eaten and I can tell you, I didn’t care for it!). The beauty of this was that I discovered many things that I loved (my father wasn’t so thrilled that an 8 year old would love escargot due to the price tag, however) and am still discovering things I love. My biggest disappointment in having to live gluten free is that I am limited to the things I can try when I travel – my parents did a great job of raising an experimental eater!

  115. Rachel

    OOooh! Pick me! As a diabetic, gluten-intolerant person who is 3 weeks away from birthing my first baby, this topic of feeding and eating with a kid has been very much on my mind lately. I want my child to love food, and not even realize that his/her mom eats a little differently than most other people!

  116. Eva

    I am raising 3 children ages 9,7 and 4 and each one of them is a different eater. My daughter (7) LOVES her veggies and plain cottage cheese is in the top 10. I made all of her baby food from fresh ingredients and I believe that it helped her to appreciate the real taste of real food. I think that it is worth the effort. Then my 9 year old is a junk food lover who is miserable when we try to make him at least TASTE real food and he can’t wait till he is out of the house and not obliged to eat mom’s “real food”. Don’t get me wrong, my husband, my 4 year old and others love my food, so it is not the cooking… I blame the store bought baby food I fed him as an ignorant first time mom with no family to help me along. We are hoping that one of these days he will discover the joy of eating real food. Perhaps reading this book together will motivate him to dare to try more often…
    Thank you.

  117. Mary

    Although our 2 year old Noah used to act like a somewhat picky eater, he eagerly gobbles up almost anything we feed him from our spoons/forks. Case in point: On a trip to Maine last summer, a friend’s mom cooked the most delicious, spicy chicken curry that made our noses run and our tummies growl for more. Noah scarfed down his portion, minus the tears and runny nose, and happily opened his mouth for more (I didn’t even try Indian food until college). I now cook for our family with so much more enthusiasm. A little creative presentation of the same foods we eat (cut smaller, smashed up, pureed, etc) results in a happy, satiated toddler.

  118. Anonymous

    I’d love a copy. Can’t help but want to read it with your glowing review… Thanks!


  119. lalalarissa

    I have three sons who are 5, 3 and 1. Feeding them well is a glorious challenge! I want to read Hungry Monkey because:

    1. Yesterday when I went to put cumin in my lentil walnut burgers there were boogers on the jar. (not sure why that is a reason, but it seems very notable and it is the first thing I thought of here).

    2. My five year old son, who has been a very choosy eater, recently began trying new things like: dandelion greens, my lentil walnut burgers (last night! passed with ketchup), homemade fishsticks with rice flour, sushi (no), kiwi…

    3. I bought one of those “sneak the good stuff” into your kids food books and HA! the neon green secret spinach circle around the homemade chicken nuggets gave away my ruse immediately. I need some more input.

    4. I love books about food. Love.

    5. I think food is my most important job in regards to my children. Feed them well. Teach them to eat well. Without health, we have nada.

    thank you!

  120. Terri

    Would love a copy of this book. I am gluten intolerant and my son has a cow’s milk allergy. Sounds really informative!

  121. Sherri

    I have 2 hungry monkeys of my own at home. It is sometimes a challenge to get my kids to try the foods I cook since I have to eat gluten free, soy free, and dairy free. Unfortunately we sometimes have two meals. One for mom and dad and another for the kids. I’d love to read the book:-)

  122. KC

    This sounds like a fantastic book, and as a soon-to-be aunt, I look forward to cooking with my future niece or nephew!

  123. Anne

    I’m just about to have my first baby (literally – reading blogs before leaving for the hospital!), and I can’t wait to introduce him – or her, but most likely a him – to the wonderful world of food. This book sounds right up my alley – I know a picky eater isn’t the end of the world, but I would really love to share flavors with my child.

  124. Andrea

    Hi Shauna! I’m so glad that you and Danny are enjoying an adventurous eater. All 3 of my children were rather picky eaters when young. The beauty of children is that they grow and change! My oldest boy has become quite adventurous- makes his own hot sauce that rivals Dave’s Insanity and will try anything! My daughter became a vegetarian 5 years ago at the age of 14. My “baby” is a meat-and-potatoes boy but you know what? That’s ok too! I think I’d relate to Hungry Monkey’s message of “Relax! They’re going to be ok!” Food has so many levels of meaning, and I enjoy growing (yea for you starting a garden! you’ll love the added connection with your food!) and preparing food for people I love, people I’m learning to love, even people I see who need a little love.

    I enjoy your blog because I get the sense you feel much the same way. Be well, Andrea

  125. Elise P

    I’m due with my first in August and can’t wait to see what he likes and doesn’t like, and whether his tastes will change as he grows. I hope he likes vegetables and is willing to experiment like me, but either way this will be interesting!

  126. FilmGal30

    Two of the greatest joys anyone can ever experience in life are raising (or helping) to raise a child and enjoying a really good meal that one has prepared with love and tenderness for their family and/or friends. I have struggled for years (nine long hard years) to have a child of my own, but in the meantime I content myself with surrounding myself every day with children at my job and seeing the looks of wonder on their faces as they learn new things. Just this morning I had a little girl come into my room and she had on a shirt that said “I love being daddy’s girl”. I was teasing her about her shirt and asking her if she really did love being daddy’s girl and she piped right up and said “Yes, he made me a big cold (i.e. sack) lunch today!” So I quizzed her on what she was having for lunch and was pleasantly surprised that dad had the forethought to pack her a very nutritious lunch (apple, celery, sandwich) rather than chips, cookies, etc. She was SO HAPPY that her daddy made her this nutritious big lunch and when I teased her and said “I might just join you for lunch..sounds like you have enough to share” she was adament, “nope, my daddy made it for me and I am going to enjoy it myself.” Thinking of my most vivid memory of food as a child I remember going to the doctor’s office to get a vaccination. The office was right next to an ice cream shop and for not “crying” while I got my shot, the doctor gave me a certificate for a free ice cream cone next door. I begged my mom as we left the office if I could go get it right away, so we walked next door and got a single scoop sugar cone. It was autumn, October, and to this day I will never forget the taste of that exotic flavor of ice cream that I had (it was pumpkin flavored)…it was delicious, it was my badge of honor and I wore and ate it well! Years later, I still remember that ice cream cone, the taste of that pumpkin ice cream…the best I’ve ever had, but more so I remember my senior year of high school….my parents were divorcing and I chose to stay and live with my dad and for that entire school year he leaned on my shoulder crying and wondering why my mother had finally left him (it was a long time coming and eventually even he could see that) but at the same time every day he would make me these huge brown bag (grocery size) lunches and I would sit there in the cafeteria with enough food for 2 or 3 people sharing it with my girlfriend who never seemed to have a lunch or doling out a banana or cookies to my friends who wanted them. It was a hard year, for me and my parents, but to this day I will never forget that through his pain my dad reached out to me and tried to take care of me and show me how much he loved me with those huge, huge sack lunches…food was his way of showing me he cared. Some day I hope to have my own child. A child that will grow up to love sharing food with family and friends, a child I can teach to cook and bake with love and caring, a child who will appreciate food for it’s beauty, taste, and it’s ability to cross universal boundaries all over the world with different cultures, peoples, countries and create a bond of love…some day I hope to bake a bread with my child or a savory stew and sit down with friends and family and have my own child see that food made with love is a universal way of communicating and sharing bonds with the people in our lives. The wonder in a child’s eyes the first time they taste a sour grape, squish a strawberry, put a fist into a birthday cake….those happy moments knowing your child is well fed and well loved…that is what I long for and some day it will happen, in the meantime I can at least share good food with my family and friends while waiting to share a future grandchild, cousin, friend with them as well.

  127. Ana

    My 4 yr old DD loves to play with her foodΒ… she will take dates (pitted), attach a few pretzel sticks, and pretend she’s eating chocolate. I’ll happily play along and exclaim “Oh nooo, you’re not supposed to eat chocolate” which really cracks her up. She also loves to put raspberries on her fingers. And she loved when I cut french toast into heart shapes on Valentine’s day.
    Now – if I could only get her to add more variety in her dietΒ… this books looks like it might have some good ideas, I’ll have to check it out!…

  128. Joyous

    Sounds like a great book, one I’d love to read! My eight-year-old daughter, Abby, has celiac disease. She was diagnosed over two years ago, and over the last two years we’ve had to learn to both de-emphasize and re-emphasize food in its various aspects as we feed her. This journey hasn’t been without its challenges, but hey, isn’t that true for life in general? πŸ™‚

  129. Alishia

    Feeding my girls has been both fun and trying. They frequently surprise me and I try not to let things bug me too much. I’ve noticed that I’m most upset by their refusals when I’m tired or I’ve had a long day. I try to take it all in stride, but I’d definitely like them to develop into more adventurous eaters.

  130. Liz

    To this day, my mother still brings up the fact that I would hum and dance whenever I ate as a child. I still get that feeling during a really good meal, but the adult in me stops myself from the humming — the dancing I still sometimes do.

    What a wonderful-sounding book. Regardless of the giveaway, my sister, a new mother, will be getting a copy.

  131. Jana

    I just called to see if the local bookstore had Hungry Monkey and found out he is going to be at the University bookstore in Seattle June 1st.

  132. Julie

    As a kid, I loved getting to pick my own food from the farm. Most memorable were strawberries and blueberries in the summer and apples in the fall. The best part of it was eating the fruit directly from the plant while picking, slightly warm from the sun and so flavorful compared to the store-bought version. Thanks for another book giveaway! πŸ™‚

  133. Giselle

    Hi, looks like a great book! I’m writing from the Caribbean and I always get comments from my American friends about stuff that I fed my baby…I guess a lot of it may seem exotic to someone outside of the region but it’s ordinary to us…even when making pureed baby food I ‘season’ with garlic, herbs and spices from very early on. It’s just part of the cooking culture here so that although there is no salt it’s very tasty and has a variety of flavours…
    a favorite of my 8mth old baby is a local spinach soup with okra, garlic, onions, thyme, culantro and coconut milk. He also loves loves roasted eggplant with garlic. Again to us this is ordinary stuff. Today he had dhal with roasted cumin. Mangoes aren’t always served sweet, when green they can be prepared as a vegetable. I don’t know any child who would refuse a helping of curried mango. I’m a teacher and it’s on the school menu. Yep that’s right curried goat, steamed pumpkin, curried chickpeas and a side of curried mango. My first child is 4 and eats everything. Lately he has announced that he LOVES pepper.I am always amused when we go to a restaurant to see a separate kids menu- usually only mac and cheese and hamburgers and fries or pasta smothered in a cheese sauce. We stay clear of those boring food options and just split whatever we are eating with the kids. I would hate for them to think that every vegetable must be smothered with cheese for it to taste good. Have you noticed most recipes touted as kid friendly only talk about hiding vegetables? Why I ask, must they be hidden when in fact they should be the stars of the meal. Ban all kids menus at restaurants I say, it’s just overpriced mac and cheese. You are there after all to experience food that you wouldn’t ordinarily prepare for yourself at home what better time to let your kids see you trying new things as well…again congrats to your friend on the book hope it makes it’s way to the islands:-)

  134. CeramaGirl

    I have heard stories about how when I was small I had an insatiable desire for beets. This hasn’t carried through to adulthood but I think it was the start of me loving to eat even some things that little ones aren’t well known for loving! Hungry Monkey sounds wonderful!

  135. Christine

    I knew my daughter would eat everything when, at 11 months old, we were cleaning out the remnants of the garden. I threw her a green pepper, one of the last of the season. She looked at it, and proceeded to devour it.

    My celiac son, on the other hand, had to be convinced at 18 months that a GF cookie would not make him sick. Poor guy! I”m happy my kids love all types of food.

    My daughter’s favorite restaurant in town is the “Tee-mo” restaurant, which translates into “the indian buffet where Mommy fed me cucumbers and tomatoes (tee-mos) before I could get used to the spicy stuff”. Aah, I love kids!

  136. Anonymous

    This is a great review! In my house, we’ve also been reading Hungry Monkey out loud. It’s perfect! I don’t need to be entered to win the free copy because I have one, but I do wish the link to Hungry Monkey was to anywhere but amazon. There are a lot of independent bookstores out there doing their work to support Matthew (and you) as an author, let’s support them back!


    Shauna, I read you blog when I get the chance. My son james has auto-immune response to many, many foods, despite the fact that I nursed him through his first year and beyond. I may have transmitted these challenges through the breast milk, but more likely than not, it was just genetics…you can have little bean tested for IgG immune response through any naturopath. I recommend my friend Michael Woo in Redmond at Pacifica Natural Medicines/Kirkland Natural Health. Though him, I had a blood draw done for my son and we shipped the blood to Florida for testing. I also had him tested for the traditional IgA and IgE allergies since he had ear tubes last year.
    James is allergic to both the protein and the sugar in cows milk, all components of eggs, and a variety of grains. Not celiac, but still not nourished completely by cereals. I have similar problems, but we both have one allergy which is dogging me. I am so allergic to yeast that I get instant eczema–so some baking is off limits for both of us.
    Yeast is in everything pre-packaged, it seems, so I have been daunted by the task of eating simply and easily to keep my health.
    Unfortunately, James, my son, is now a little afraid of food. He has a few standards he overeats, and I worry a little. (a lot)
    At any rate, I will look for this book–and hope that our trials with food all comes in the wash.
    I am waiting for the testing on my husband, now. When I get that, I will formulate our strategy and start looking for recipes we can all eat.
    We are expecting a second child in July, so I will certainly try to get us all in a more healthy state…and wish that I could have the new baby’s cord blood tested for his own genetic proclivities, so I can start him out right!
    We all must live with food–what I love most about your web log is that you enjoy food so much, so your recommendation is a strong one.
    Please keep enjoying food and writing about it!

  138. katt

    I was one of those "picky moms" that made all her own baby food and avioded things like honey, peanuts, and fish of anykind for the first year. Once my girls hit one though, all bets were off! I am big on letting them eat what we eat and now that they are older (9 & almost 5) I like to think it shows. They can identify many seasoning by smell ("Here, come smell this" is something often heard in our kitchen) and are not afraid to try new things. Sushi (veg) and Pizza are their favorties, with most of the things I make being vegan (Dad is one) and usually gluten free.
    In the words of my 9yo "Being different kinda sucks, but it sure tastes better!"

  139. Sheila from Dunrobin

    My little girl beans have grown into nearly full size pods of 8 and 10 years old. In this time I have developed breads, pancakes, cakes and treats that were gluten, dairy, soy, egg and nut free. Despite these challenges I have had many successes and some humdinger failures which go to the dog. I have become the spokesmom at our elementary school (750 children strong) and have educated many a worrying parent regarding, “What do I feed my allergic children?” “Not to worry I say,” here are my successes, here is my number, give me a call before you get to your wit’s end. I enjoy helping desperate parents find healthy, tasty solutions for their kids. I would use this book wisely to find more options for the special monkey’s in our school.
    Hugs, Sheila from Dunrobin

  140. Dee in NC

    I have two adventurous eaters, age 10 and 8, who regularly eat beets, asparagus, pierogies, salmon, mushrooms, cabbage, all fruits and will even try every new gluten free item I attempt to bake! I also have one very picky 5 year old who has a very limited list of approved foods and hates to try new things. The book looks great. Thanks for keeping up the blog, I love reading your recipe ideas!

  141. J.J. Killins

    I’ve had this book on my to-read list for awhile, being the mama of a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old. My son has to be wheat, dairy, and peanut-free…so I have high hopes that this book will be inspirational to me in my efforts to feed him well and adventurously!

  142. Dean Levine

    We used to eat roasted asparagus while our then-infant sat on the table in a carseat, saying “mmmmm” and waving it in front of him. Needless to say, he dove into food when we finally offered it to him.

    He now eats Thai curry, Indian saag ghosht, pistachio-rosewater cupcakes, and macaroni and cheese with equal gusto. He’s two and a half. πŸ™‚

  143. Emily

    When my oldest was just 3 or 4 we had a picnic at the beach with some friends. My son started to cry at dinner and when I asked why he said it was because he didn’t want the hot dog that all the kids were having. He wanted steamed clams and lobster like the adults! Steamers and lobster he wanted so steamers and lobster he got (and enjoyed whole heartedly!)

    This sounds like a wonderful book and I can’t wait to give it a look.

  144. Susan

    My beautiful, picky-eating son is now 21. When he turned 4, he changed overnight from an openminded gourmand to someone with a list of ten possibles.

    They were 10 good ones – that’s the only thing that saved me from despair.

    That was the first test, but not the hardest. Eventually I realized I was going to have to go against not only our food culture but also my own instincts in order to raise a healthy kid. Stop overfeeding (want a cookie, honey?). Stop pushing sugar (juice, anyone?) Stop cooking so much (just sugar-snap peas for dinner? Why not?).

    The lesson I learned from my son is that picky is okay. As a celiac, picky is my way of life. My picky is not his picky, and yet we have each come to respect each other’s different – aka wackadoodle – choices.

    Now, compromise is beautiful. For Mother’s Day, my picky son made me Eggs Florentine with perfectly poached local eggs nestled on top of our garden spinach, with a Hollandaise sauce made from local goat butter. All on a sweet potato scone my husband baked, gluten-free of course. For dessert, he stuffed dates with almonds or candied ginger and rolled bacon around them, a combination that bakes into my own personal version of culinary paradise: fatty, salty, sweet and pungent.

    Then he went to his girlfriend’s mother’s house and did it all over again!

    He’s so ready for this book, and I would be delighted to win it for him and present it to him (after quickly reading it, of course)!

  145. Gypsy Forest

    I’ve been lucky to have good eaters….. 4 of them in fact….. they eat baked halves of squash with rubbed sage and little pads of butter….. roasted brussell sprouts…… they like to try anything new too, which is great fun for the adventurous chefs in the house…. I would love to read this book πŸ™‚ It sounds great!

  146. jenn

    oh, if only… my parents were, and still are, not terrifically interested in food. growing up was all canned peas and hamburger helper. jello and pb&j. i came late to foodie-dom. but i remember food so specifically and viscerally from those years in the 70s thinking, "there must be something better than this!" it wasn't until i fished around in the spice cabinet in early high school, forcing my mom to let me doctor up a roasted chicken with, among other things, cinnamon, that i discovered food could be delicious and surprising and engaging.

  147. Caity

    I was such a picky eater as a kid, I wish that there had been books like this for my parents to use as a resource. Luckily, I am now a much more adventurous eater, and will try almost anything. Although I don’t have kids as my own, I would like to someday, and I spend a lot of time with my 3-year old niece. Her eating habits make me laugh. She already knows what she does and doesn’t like, but occasionally is willing to experiment and try new things. Last weekend we discovered that she loves fresh chives, plucked straight from the herb garden. I can’t wait to watch her become more adventurous in her eating and discover new foods as she matures πŸ™‚

  148. Melissa

    Hmm… when I was a kid it was Hamburger Helper and Pop-Tarts. Now, I wonder why my mom never tried to make beef stroganoff from scratch- it’s so easy! (But I still enjoy the occasional organic toaster pastry!)

  149. Allison

    I’m enjoying the book a lot, but he kind of threw me with his claim that newborns don’t like colostrum. Huh? Millions of years of evolution at work and the feeding difficulties of one infant throws it all out the window? That’s a pretty broad assessment to make. I gave the book the benefit of the doubt though and have enjoyed the rest.

  150. Fire Fox

    My mother is a diabetic and has celiac’s disease. When we were kids we didn’t know that meatloaf wasn’t suppose to be made with cornflake crumbs, or that gravy was usually made with flour, not cornstarch. Our food was always yummy, healthy and included trying new things like rhubarb and cranberry chiffon pie made with a sugar substitute. I grew up watching my mother eat the hamburger out of a bun (when we were treated to a trip to McDonalds) without even a rip or tear of the bun! I always thought this was an amazing feat! My daughter had issues with the way foods “felt” in her mouth. She would eat chicken nuggets but not baked chicken. She would eat a fast food hamburger but not a home-made burger. Veggies weren’t a problem for the most part, and fruits, granola bars, yogurts got us through the “I hate meat” years. She is still not to keen on meat, but does eat it occasionally. I have reverted back to my childhood, eating less carbs, staying away from pastas, breads etc. I don’t use sugar, caffeine, asparatame or gluten based foods. I feel great! Thanks for sharing so much of your life with us, inspiring us to look at food in different ways.

  151. Dogmama13

    Thanks for your blog! Since I little I loved all kinds of food from Brussles sprouts to cracked crab to Quiche Lorraine. My earliest memory was Green Goddess dressing. My mom was a “Julia Child” so I was lucky.

  152. Jill

    Sounds like a great book. I know my husband would be so happy to see our 9 month old eating tripe when he is young. In a strange way even me being an ex vegetarian and very picky eater would like to see him being as adventurous as his dad. For me being so picky is limiting (but at this age I can’t help it)

    We give our baby chicken bones to munch on ( great for teething) He grabbed a tuna roll from me and started to eat it when he was 7 months! This from a baby who only seems to eat grass and dirt and food he just squashes with his hands, rarely putting it into his mouth.. I know, I know people say not to give raw fish to babies (hey I ate it when I was pregnant too..they do in Japan) but he loved it! and he was fine. I won’t make a habit out of giving him raw fish until he is one (although I am wondering what this book says about that) Sounds like a great book and great people!

  153. Lys

    I don’t have kids yet, but in the near future hopefully. But, like you stated, I love food and anything about it. I too am gluten intolerant and wonder if it will affect my future kiddos. I see my cousin (who has no food variety in her life ever) feed her 3 year old nothing but deli turkey with butter on wonder bread and sweetened yogurt. It makes me so sad that her little one has never tried any quality food, and in turn is super picky! I want my kids to be food lovers like me!

  154. Chef Rachel

    OMG, this book sounds like fun reading. I’m so glad to hear you are feeding your baby adult food. So many of the mom’s I meet ask me to write a book w/recipes for kids. (I’m a natural foods chef and cooking instructor.) They don’t get it that it traditional cultures people gave babies breast milk, then supplemented it with whatever the adults ate until the child only at that.

    It’s a very modern concept (an artificact of the food processing industry) that kids need food that’s altogether different from their parents. Clever marketing has undermined the concept of family meals and everyone sharing in the same food.

    I love to read your posts! I want to get that book!

  155. tallmisto

    I just heard them on NPR. She’s so wonderful. I could eat her up with a spoon. I can’t wait to read this book.

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