My oldest is a fussy eater and lately really seems to have gotten into a rut with always wanting to eat the exact same things. As he does enjoy cooking, I picked this up from the local library and spent a good hour looking through it with him, explaining about food groups and nutrition and asking which recipes looked fun to make. He does help me with cooking and usually is much more willing to try something he has helped cook himself, and we have found a number of recipes together online.
This book is very large, and very well illustrated with bright clear photographs. It begins by showing you all the basics of kitchen equipment. The next page shows a food graph in the modern circle form showing your basic food groups and explaining healthy eating, followed by pages showing the most common fruits and vegetables in colourful appetising pictures.
Then we get down to the meat of this book, recipes. Each recipe has illustrations showing you each step and simple easy to follow instructions. Most of the ingredients are very common and should be easy to obtain if they are not already in your kitchen. While a few the recipes seemed a bit more likely to appeal to adults such as lamb tangine, the majority seem to be ones that would appeal to children who are willing to try a few things and enjoy vegetables etc... and there are still a few for the more picky eater, fish bites in bread crumbs - which looks like it might be nice using chicken instead if you wanted nice home made chicken nuggets. This book has a wide variety of dishes from snacks and sides to main dishes and desserts.
So after all this time looking through this book, I asked my son which food he would like to make. His eyes lit up as he thumbed through the pages to his desired dish. Right back to the start of the book and the food wheel, he showed me the small section of the circle titled "fats and sugar", and said that was he wanted. It shows an array of cakes, biscuits and sweets - so much for this converting him to healthy eating. We did end up making garlic toast - not terribly exciting, and I tried the hamburger recipe on my own, which was nice enough, but the children did not like it and I will not be making it again.
We also tried the pizza recipe but using our own recipe for sauce, so in fact it was really just using the bread recipe, which is basically the same as our ordinary recipe. We also left out the garnishes shown on the picture, used an awful lot more cheese and shaped our pizzas like gingerbread men and dinosaurs. This at least was a big hit with both boys but of course something we did not really need the recipe book for, so I am afraid this book was not a great deal of use for us. Still I can not rate it down too much as I do think it would be much more useful in another family.
This book is clearly designed for older children, I would say ages 8 and up, but there are several recipes a much younger child could help with, so I would say this is suitable as soon as your child has an interest in cooking and helping in the kitchen. In fact my youngest, age 2 is sitting though looking at this now and placing his orders ( but this child's first sentence came at only 11 months of age and was: "Is that my dinner"). Perhaps getting started with this younger might be more likely to encourage healthy eating.
I also think this book would be perfect for a young adult without a lot of experience cooking. The recipes are so clear and well laid out, and none of the meals are too complicated to make. This might be perfect for a student for simple home cooked meals. Of course since this is designed for children, I do think they skimp a bit on the spices so I would add more for many of these dishes if making for adults. Even when making the pizza recipe we used our own sauce as we prefer to have Italian seasonings like oregano and thyme rather than carrots. I know if I were making the "Spicy chicken" or chicken curry for anyone but young children I would double the curry powder and I like my curries quite bland. But beyond increasing seasoning to taste and leaving out the odd item like carrots in pizza sauce, this really would be perfect for small simple adult meals too.
I am giving this book 4 stars. I would have liked a few more recipes for the more fussy child, like mine. I also think most children would balk at things like carrot pizza, especially one with almost no cheese. I know this is meant to make it match the certain nutritional requirements but we may as well be realistic and make it the way a child would eat it. Sliced tomatoes and leaves of basil instead of cheese just won't cut it for most kids.
Other than though, I can not fault this book and I think many people will get a lot more use of it then we did.