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By Dara Berger
As a mom of two children with food allergies and one with autism you would think I have read it all when it comes to food. I actually thought I had until I picked up a copy of Erica Daniel’s new cookbook “Cooking with Leo”. I read through it during one of those rare moments on a weekend when your children actually leave you alone for an extended period of time.
It was both inspiring and empowering. You must be thinking "how could a cookbook be described using those words”? Erica sprinkles facts about autism and food allergies throughout the book without making it feel like you are being taught something. She also gives great tips on which foods are healing and the ones we should all stay away from. Then there are the many great healthful recommendations offered such as the type of cookware that is best to use. Erica Daniels shares more than recipes in “Cooking with Leo”. She bares her soul for all to read. It is a beautiful and healing journey of one family and how they found peace, harmony and a good time in the kitchen together despite all of life’s challenges.
My favorite parts of “Cooking with Leo” are how Erica describes getting your children into the kitchen to learn this invaluable skill that everyone needs and how it connected her whole family. Food is something her son Leo really enjoys and the act of cooking with Leo broke down the autism barrier and allowed them to finally connect with one another. The pictures of both the food and Erica’s children are some of the most engaging that I have ever seen in a cookbook. You cannot help but feel happy flipping through the pages.
Now let’s talk about the delicious recipes some of which get passed down in her family and others that are Erica’s healthy and food allergy friendly take on everyday classics such as paprika chicken, pineapple spoon bread and crispy green bean casserole. She makes it look and sound really simple.
The recipes are kid friendly, allergy friendly and most important easy to follow.
I think this is a book not only for people in the autism community and families with children who have food allergies but for anyone who wants to be inspired to get in the kitchen with their kids and get them loving wholesome good food!
I don’t think there any parents out there who have not had a child over their house with some form of food allergy, which makes this book even more invaluable. We live in a different world today and need to adapt. “Cooking with Leo” makes allergy free cooking uncomplicated and fun.
I also found reading “Cooking with Leo” to be a profound experience for me on so many levels. Erica not only shares her past experiences of how isolating holidays could be with autism and food allergies but offers insights on how to overcome these special circumstances and “train" the entire family so everyone is included. My mind literally felt out of breath from the beautiful roller coaster of emotions, factual information, relationship interactions and recipes that I absorbed during the journey I was taken on in this book. Everyone should own a copy.
Dara Berger is a writer who is just putting the finishing touches on her first book about preventing autism due out later this Summer. She is also a documentary filmmaker that thrives on exploring meaningful issues that touch people’s lives. Dara just received her health coach certificate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and plans to start a practice where she can assist people in healing themselves from chronic health issues as well as preventing them