Before you ask, NO. I don’t have kids, and I’m not planning on having them any time soon. Ok, good now that we’ve gotten over that awkward hump, let me tell you about this amazeballs new cookbook: the Paleo Kids Cookbook, by the amazingly talented and creative Jennifer Robins.
So no, I don’t have kids. I do, however, 1) work as the sports nutrition expert on the swim team I coach, and am always looking for new, healthier ideas of what to recommend for my kid athletes and their parents. AND 2)…I sometimes crave the foods of my childhood in the cruelest sort of way, since now I’m celiac and lactose intolerant (whomp, whomp) and can no longer eat the boxed macaroni & cheese + chicken nuggets that marked every single monday of my childhood. Mac n cheese mondays, guys! It was a THING. My brother and I would get PISSED if that, for some reason, we weren’t having that every monday. And what about Cheez-its? Or pigs in a blanket? Nilla wafers? Chicken nuggets? Pop tarts? Tater tots? Don’t even try and tell me you NEVER crave those things anymore.
In a sense it’s probably a really good thing that I can’t eat those things anymore. I grew up eating totally processed food, in a super busy house where there just wasn’t time to make a home-cooked meal from scratch every night. Unless you count pouring the “cheese sauce” packet from mac n cheese into the pot with some milk and butter, then pouring the noodles on top. HEY don’t hate, that was the first thing I learned how to cook! Look how far we’ve come now, haha. But now, (obviously), I stick to mostly real food, and it’s always gluten-free. So allll those childhood options are out…until now?
Jennifer has re-created these foods in a totally delicious way that us glutards, lactards, real food eaters, and allergy-laden folk can actually enjoy these foods again without worrying about getting sick, whether you’re a kid or an adult. Because really, you wouldn’t jump at the chance to have a funnel cake that wouldn’t wreck your insides?! Oh, PLEASE. Liar. I’m calling you out. You know you want that funnel cake. And Jennifer has a gluten, grain, and dairy-free one, just for you.
I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first. Flipping through the pages to see recipes like French Toast Sticks, Chicken Nuggets, Banana Pudding with “Nilla Wafers”, “Cheese” Quackers (aka goldfish!), Sweet Potato Bacon Tots, Jennifer’s signature Legit Sandwich Bread, Pizza Crust…Brown Sugar Cinnamon Toasted Pastries (aka the BEST flavor of pop tarts), and Funnel Cakes? Ummm….YEAH.
Really, Jennifer? You’ve got to be KIDDING me. After cooking a bunch of recipes from Jennifer’s other cookbooks, I knew the ones in this book would be delicious. BUT. I didn’t believe these foods, without any gluten, grains, dairy, or many other allergens (did I mention no yucky sugars either? Only the real stuff here.) could really replicate the comfort kiddo foods I grew up eating. I’ll be the first to admit that stuff was NOT healthy in any sense of the word. I was one of those kids who refused to eat vegetables too (unless you count corn or carrots and hidden valley ranch dressing…which is a chemical sh*t storm). Ketchup was totally a vegetable in my book, and I didn’t want to hear otherwise.
I can only imagine how hard it is to have kids (like Jennifer) with a ton of food allergies, who are not only picky eaters, hate vegetables, but can’t even eat the staple, quick-and-easy kid foods most parents will serve (whether they’re healthy or not) for fear of a severe allergic reaction or other food sensitivity issues. It’s hard enough for me to get my swim team kids to eat enough food, let alone real food, or (god forbid) more vegetables, and most of them don’t even have any food allergies/sensitivities! Yikes.
Well, let me tell you, my skepticism was proved totally wrong. Here’s what I’ve tried (and loved!) so far: Mini Pumpkin Muffins, BFF Brussels, Sweet Potato Bacon Tots, and Vanilla Wafers. Whether you’re catering to a kid or adult audience here, you will not be disappointed. My dad (casually) freaked out when I let him taste the Vanilla Wafers dough. Back in the day he could eat a whole box of those things and still want more.
But don’t you go thinking this is just a book full of treats. Jennifer has a whole section on healing foods, “snack attack”, and tips on each recipe for how you can get your kids to help with the cooking process (or, you know, adults who can’t tell their left from right foot in the kitchen?). How freaking adorable is that? And did I mention, she’s come up with delectable, kid-friendly ways to jazz up fruits and veggies to get those into your kiddos’ diets too, even the dreaded brussels sprouts with “BFF Brussels”. Let me tell you, my brother (who is 22) HATES brussels sprouts. I’ve doctored them up with bacon, toasted walnuts, balsamic vinegar glaze, you name it, he won’t eat it. But these BFF Brussels? Done and done. I’m making them every single time.
Ok, enough gushing. For now, enjoy this amazing recipe for Sweet Potato Bacon Tots with Awesome Sauce!
- 1 large sweet potato
- 5 strips of crispy bacon, chopped
- Up to 1 tsp garlic sea salt (to taste)
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ cup (80g) potato starch or cassava flour
- Avocado oil or light olive oil for frying
- ¼ cup Ketchup (homemade or high-quality store bought)
- ¼ cup mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)
- 1-2 Tbsp yellow mustard
- Optional: 1 Tbsp maple sugar
- Boil the sweet potato submerged in water for about 10 minutes. Remove the sweet potato from the boiling water and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
- While the potato is cooling, make the Awesome sauce: simply mix all ingredients together and stir to combine well.
- Once cool enough to handle, peel or slice the skin off. Grate the sweet potato, using a hand grater, mandolin or food processor.
- Once the sweet potato is grated, use a hand towel or a few paper towels to squeeze out the excess water from the potato. This step is important, as you do not want to have soggy tots!
- Add the other ingredients (minus the oil and sauce) to the grated sweet potato in a mixing bowl and combine by hand. Preheat oil for frying in a large skillet over medium/high heat; it does not need to be enough oil for deep frying, but it should be enough to generously cover the bottom of the skillet.
- While the cooking oil heats, begin shaping your tots. Roll about a tablespoon (15g) of the dough into a ball, and then elongate it and flatten the ends to give it that distinctive tot shape. (From Dana: don’t make them too big, or the middle won’t cook through!)
- Fry the tots, rolling them around on all sides to make sure they crisp up. Once all sides are cooked, around 5 minutes or more, use a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove the tots and transfer them to a towel-lined plate to cool slightly. Serve alone or with awesome sauce!
Next up on my list? Funnel cakes, pop tarts, or s’mores…oh my! And be sure to check out Jennifer’s blog + The Paleo Kids Cookbook: Transition Your Family to Delicious Grain- and Gluten-Free Food for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating for other amazing recipes like this!