Learn about Superfoods with Dana Angelo White
Magic Beans Fairfield, 1530 Post Road
May 9, 10am-12pm
Dana Angelo White, MS RD ATC, author of First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, knows a whole lot about feeding kids! Not only is she a nutrition expert for FoodNetwork.com, a Nutrition Consultant, a Certified Athletic Trainer, and a Sports Dietitian and Clinical Professor at Quinnipiac University, but she’s also tested her recipes and ideas with her own young children.
Dana will be doing a presentation on her book at Magic Beans Fairfield on May 9, followed by a smoothie demonstration and some ready-to-eat foods for you to try out; afterwards, her book will be available at a discount (and she’ll sign it for you, too!). Before her visit, we asked her a few questions about her book, about family, and about food.
Q: Thanks so much for doing this Q&A with us! Let’s start with a few questions about the book. Forgive me if I’m hopelessly out of date with the nutritional lingo, but, what’s a superfood, and what is their benefit?
“Superfood” is really an abused term. Some less reliable sources on nutrition lead people to believe that any food dubbed “super” is magical and one bite will cure anything. My definition is much different. For a food to reach super status, it must be delicious, beautiful, unprocessed, and bursting with nutrients. Bananas and brown rice are obvious super choices, but exposing tiny palates to more unique foods like quinoa and bison also offers a plethora of good nutrition, plus some exciting flavors and textures to explore.
First Bites is centered around a list of fifty foods that are affordable, easy to find, and filled with the nutrients that growing bodies need. Incorporating these whole foods into meals and snacks will help promote growth, energy, strength, and brain power.
Q: Is First Bites mostly a cookbook, or mostly an educational tome on nutrition, or both? What age range do you provide recipes for?
The main focus of the book is the superfoods and how to use them in healthy, fun, and family-focused dishes. There are more than 80 recipes, plus lots more ideas. Recipes are organized by food group, and within each section are age-appropriate recipes for children 6 months to 3 years of age (the recipes for the older kids are great for adults, too!). There are also lots of quick and easy tips for raising healthy eaters. First Bites is not meant to be a textbook, instead a quick and easy reference guide for busy families.
Q: What’s the process of creating a recipe like?
Developing recipes is one of the most exciting parts of my job. Inspiration may come from anywhere – the farmers’ market, a favorite restaurant, something my kids say. I get in the kitchen and go from there. The kids like to help, and are great taste testers.
There is also a more technical side to recipe development – especially since I’m a registered dietitian. All of my recipes need to be analyzed for nutritional information. I like to present all the nutrition facts and healthy highlights along with the final recipe.
Q: In your interview with the Courant, they mentioned that you taste-tested your recipes with your own family. Which recipes did your kids like best? What’s your favorite?
We really do make the recipes from the book at home – all the time! Arugula Pesto Pasta and Peanut Butter Spaghetti are huge family favorites. I named a few of the faves after my kids for example, Maddy’s Creamy Dreamy Banana Shake and Charlie’s Double Pumpkin Muffins.
Q: Judging from your bio page on your website, you’ve got a really intense resume! How has being a mom influenced your work?
Ha, well thanks! I am a pretty busy lady! I have always been a hard worker, but I’m lucky because I truly love what I do. Motherhood has taught me to value my time off, and to learn to say no more often without feeling guilty about it. Writing this book was such a fun way to “work” while involving my family at the same time.
Q: I know a lot of our customers are eager to try and make their own baby food – what advice can you offer to beginners? Is there any baby-food-making equipment that you especially love?
A blender and food processor are more than enough to make everything you need! As for practical advice: start simple, with one or two ingredient recipes. Once you get the hang of it, make larger batches and store pre-portioned servings in the freezer – it’s a huge time saver.
Q: I know a lot of parents have trouble getting kids to eat a wide range of healthy foods. What advice do you have on coping with picky eaters?
I have a list of Do’s and Don’t’s for parents in the book – my top “do” is lead by example, and my top don’t is try not to freak out. Little ones are exploring the world around them every minute, and it’s our job as parents to guide them and be patient with them. Food is no different! That said, it can be challenging so parents should not be too hard on themselves, take it one meal at a time.
Q: You mentioned in your note to us that your slogan is “Make Food Fun” – tell me more about it!
This is what First Bites is all about. I was raised to learn that delicious food was about family and love, and I’m hoping to instill the same in my kids. My overall goal is to keep mealtime fun, an experience that everyone looks forward to. I encourage my kids to continue to enjoy the foods they love, but also challenge them to try new things. We eat as a family as often as possible, and the kids always help with some aspect of the meal prep whether it’s sprinkling cheese, cracking eggs (which we are still working on), or setting the table.