Mila’s Meals: an essential book for baby’s first year and beyond.
Book title: Mila’s Meals
Author: Catherine Barnhoorn
Publisher: Self published
I am exceedingly excited about this book.
Some time ago, Catherine Barnhoorn contacted me and asked whether I would review her book. I was very rushed and busy when I replied and had six million things on the go and didn’t pay it all that much attention.
Then it arrived by courier wrapped in cardboard. When I opened it, I quite literally shrieked with delight after flicking through the pages. It felt like both a soothing answer and magic wand, had appeared out of the ethos to address a giant, confusing void, that of how to feed babies.
The book is large, my first feeling was of having something with a lot of content and weight in my hands – solid. When I got into the subjects covered and the beautiful recipes given, I was overjoyed and remembered wishing that this book had been around when my children were babies. The difference it would have made now looking back is too large to almost comprehend.
I made so many mistakes with both my children, mistakes that I wish I could reverse now that I have so much more knowledge. I was coming off a pretty extreme nutritional eating philosophy all those years ago. All I had was natural hygiene which had been the dominant alternative eating philosophy of the time and I mistakenly only kept my daughter on a purely vegetarian diet.
I mashed and pureed copious amounts of vegetables and fruit for her in her first year and that was that. Looking back now, I know that I messed up her teeth with far too much fruit and fruit juice. I realise now that the reason we had so many sleep issues with her was because of the lack of protein and I wish I could change that, but I can’t.
You do the best with what you know at the time. With my son it was even worse as that was 23 years ago and in an attempt to keep dairy out of his diet, I gave him soy, a choice I now would never make.
The strides we have made in our understanding of nutrition over the past 20 years have been monumental leaps. We have so much more knowledge at our disposal now and so much debate in the space. We are empowered with more information than our parents had and we are able to do our own research.
We don’t have to rely on ‘experts’ anymore as we have access to so much information and differing opinions. We have also learnt much about the limitations of conventional degrees that only taught one paradigm and how they are too sadly outdated.
The last time I went to a talk by qualified dieticians, I faced 2 over weight woman who were suggesting that it was a good idea to use conventional bread to crumb a recipe and it was the last time I have gone near the old paradigm of nutrition which I now find far too limited and far too influenced by commercial food interests who we know influenced academia and continue to.
There is a wealth of new research with live debates happening very visibly in front of us.
The downside to all this access to information though and debate in space is great confusion. We have to learn how to discern between what makes sense and works for us and what doesn’t.
I feel like this has manifested particularly badly when it comes to infant nutrition. It’s a minefield of confusion at a time when new parents are vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed and out of their depth before they’re off the starting block. What a relief and help it would be to have the strain of having to worry about how to feed a baby out of the way and turned into something empowering.
I feel like this is the exact gift that Catherine Barnhoorn has given new parents. All of us actually as I will be using recipes out of this book despite my son being 23 and my daughter 9.
In terms of dismantling old school indoctrination around infant feeding, I think that the recent trial of Tim Noakes was a very important one. He effectively dismantled the notion that formulas and conventional cereals are the best way to start a child’s life. He put the fact that industry has taught us how to feed children, to their advantage and not ours- into a stark spotlight.
Although I feel that a gap has been left when it comes to how to feed babies. I think people are more confused than ever about where to start with getting their babies off to the healthiest start.
Before, everybody followed one bad script and one formula – excuse the pun – but you either breast fed or you didn’t – you went to the store and looked for numbers on baby feeding cans to tell you what to do next, with formula and cereals.
We know now that whichever way you look and no matter the difference in nutritional debate – all of them agree on one thing: that a diet focused on whole, unprocessed ingredients is the way to go.
Catherine Barnhoorn’s book ‘Mila’s Meals’ is the book I believe that gives you the best tools to give your baby and their sensitive and ready immune system the great start it deserves.
It isn’t too extreme in any direction. Catherine studied with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and outlines her own personal journey from not being well to supreme health and her delightful journey with her daughter Mila.
This is not a dry textbook on child nutrition – this is a very personal interaction with a Mum who has been where you are and still is, who talks in such a deeply intimate way about her journey while she shares her knowledge with you. Catherine is a woman we can all relate to.
Everything you need to know about how to give your baby the best start is covered in this book. From what additives to avoid and why, how to build supreme gut health, how to create the first textured eating experience that will set your child up for life with a good palette, when to introduce certain foods and how, which mistakes you can avoid and what myths to disband before you even start.
Oh how I wish I had read this section on not including too much fruit juice when my daughter was a baby, when to introduce dairy, what to consider when you do and I could go on and on.
She covers everything and then she blows you away with recipes that will help you make it all happen. All recipes are designed to exclude the foods that most commonly can cause intolerances if not carefully chosen and introduced at the right time.
This means much time and trouble avoided later, trust me. This book will prevent those first years from being ones of continual ear infections, runny noses and temper tantrums from additives and colorants.
Over the past 7 years I have been exposed to so many eating philosophies from macrobiotics to raw food vegan to vegetarianism to natural hygiene to banting and I have tried all of them in my own quest to find health in a way that makes sense to me.
I ended up with insulin resistance after a period of vegetarianism and healed this with a high fat, low carb diet and now I think I have found a way of eating that incorporates the strongest points of most nutritional philosophies and works for me. I no longer have weight issues or the other issues that came with being insulin resistant like PCOS and energy issues and the like. That just isn’t a part of my world anymore.
The recipes in the book are going to become firm favourites I think for all of the toddler years and beyond. They stretch way past the first year and are foods that the whole family will enjoy.
The stress around baby’s first party when you’re expected to have them sick on sugar and cake is taken care of in the book. Catherine has included beautiful cake recipes that do not include the troublesome ingredients that will upset your baby and your household when they are sick and uncomfortable, like sugar, grain and dairy. The recipes are so delicious – you are going to experience the joy of feeling filled up knowing that you are giving your child the best start, the time that you spend in the kitchen will be more than rewarded when they aren’t up all night with sick and miserable little ones. I feel this book helps you to settle into that beautiful maternal feeling of satisfaction that you feel when you know that you’ve nourished your child well.
This book is so comprehensive, I haven’t even covered the half of it but it’s going to be a staple in my kitchen despite the fact that my daughter is now nearly 10 and my son 23 because there are recipes in there that we’re all going to love and that help me out with Kiara’s lunch-boxes.
Recipes that stand out for me are:
- Delicious muffins made with sweet potato instead of flour and carrot cupcakes that don’t contain grain, sugar or dairy. These are going to prove so handy when it comes to the next class party.
- Quick chocolate mousse made using chia seeds and coconut oil and cacao powder and honey and avo.
The book goes on and on in a similar vein, smoothie ideas, quick meal ideas, good broth ideas to build good gut health and so on.
I haven’t come across a book on baby’s first year this joyful, this comprehensive, this progressive, this sensible and this exciting and am delighted to be hosting Catherine Barnhoorn in Jozi for her Jozi book launch.
Come and meet her, get your book signed and let this be a delightful journey with your baby where all the confusion is put to rest and you can focus on growing with your child without so much time spent dealing with sickness.
I think you will feel empowered as a parent after reading this and for a long time.
I look forward to seeing you all at the launch events on Friday 27th May and Saturday 28 May.