Brain Food is a collection of pieces from a newspaper column, of the same name, that ran (or still runs) in Australia. It is a food column that answers readers questions in a more direct and teasing tone then other food columns.
This book was not at all what I was expecting. From the title I thought that I was going to get a book heavy on science and not on cooking. Although, I was surprised how much science there is when creating recipes and cooking. It was not the type of science I expected, nor the format I was expecting.
I am not the target audience for this book. I only taught myself to cook as an adult, and that because of food allergies in myself and my children. Most of the information in this book was useless to me, specifically because of our food allergies. I was a bit blown away that the advice given to a young child headed off to college was to teach them how to cook a chicken. Have they never seen the kitchen in dorms? We were lucky to be able to boil water, let alone create an actual meal.
With that being said, it was a good tone and I read the book all the way through. While most of the information was not relevant, I was still intrigued by the passion behind cooking.
I received this book for free from Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
When I think of food allergies I immediately think of gluten and dairy. I will then go to analyze the sulfate level in various foods - since I have an allergy to sulfate as well. I was excited to pick up this book, because I wanted to understand how consuming even a little bit of gluten will affect my intolerant daughter.
Except that is not what this book is about - at all. This book is mainly about allergies that can cause a child to go into anaphylaxis shock. It talks a lot about peanut allergies and tree nut allergies. It does also mention diary allergies.
The book is divided into sections. In the first section, you receive stories from various areas of their lifespan - starting at infancy and ending to adulthood. The stories are helpful for individuals to empathize with - an I am not alone kind of thing. They do not provide a wealth of information. You do receive some more information in the second section, which is where medical providers, educators, and community members write about their expertise.
Overall the book does not provide a whole lot of information on allergies. It is more along the theme of you are not alone, and people do successfully manage their allergy. The biggest problem that I had from the book (besides from a very generic title) is that everyone in the book is a sample of convenience. By this I mean that they were all connected to the same support group - possibly even all members of just one meeting location. This only provides a limited perspective. Even the medical professionals and community members were all connected to the same support group. Both educators for from the same PRIVATE school. Even though one teacher is in preschool and one in early education you do not get a very different perspective since they are both from the same school.
The best thing about this book is that it got me thinking about the effect of my daughter's lunch box on children at her school. Yet at the same time, it frustrated me. The parents in the book were not very sympathetic to children who only eat peanut butter. It was a your kid can starve because my kid is allergic. Since my child WILL STARVE herself rather than eat a non-preferred food I was not very happy with this attitude. However, I have talked with my daughter about how to make sure that she does not contaminate her friends with a peanut allergy. For example, she should always wash her hands after she eats. Also, she should never share food with her friends with a nut allergy since we often bake with almond flour and they could be allergic. These are also rules that I reinforce to help her manage her own allergies.
Dairy Free and Happy is a children's book directed towards children with a dairy allergy. I would say that the target age range is in early elementary school.
I was extremely interested in this book since my youngest daughter (as well as myself) has a dairy and gluten allergy. She had to go gluten and dairy free while she was in elementary school, and there was some challenging times getting to understand how food impacted her body.
I read this book with my daughter and asked for her opinion. She said that the book said the information that she had needed to know when she was younger. She also said that it was done in a way that was easy to understand, although the first part of the book confused her a bit at first.
I think that her review of the book is perfect. There is a lot of useful information that is perfectly directed at young children. It shows what food to picks, emphasis eating whole foods, and treats having a dairy allergy as something that is not stigmatizing.
As a parent, the only aspect of the book that I thought was missing was helping a child to understand why dairy hurts their body. This could be very different for every child. However, I think the book would have benefited from at least one page about how dairy makes you feel yucky. I really wish that I had this book when my daughter was younger.
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