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The Cleaner Plate Club: Raising Healthy Eaters One Meal at a Time Paperback – January 15, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This crayon-colored real food manifesto from mommy bloggers Bader and Benjamin gives parents plenty of ammo in the never-ending battle to get their kids to eat better, though it will likely be used more as a reference than a playbook at the end of a long day. Concerned parents will appreciate arguments for the benefits of eating better and avoiding processed foods; suggestions on dealing with picky eaters; shopping tips; and the organic vs. conventional debate. Profiles of common vegetables should broaden the palate and pantry, but some tips are disappointingly obvious ("don't go grocery shopping with kids who are hungry or tired"). And while recipes do present healthy alternatives, not all are time savers: few parents will want to whip up pumpkin gnocchi with walnut cream sauce and balsamic reduction after work. The duo deserves credit for a healthy take on chicken nuggets (baked), and their list of "faster than drive-thru dinners" that come together in a flash. Locavores well-versed in the benefits of a diet emphasizing fresh vegetables will likely find few surprises, but others will find a helpful resource for healthier eating. (Jan.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


This gem of a cookbook covers all the bases.- Sacramento Book Review

"Check out The Cleaner Plate Club by Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin, two moms that strive to feed their families fresh vegetables and whole foods. Before you roll your eyes, these authors do seem to understand that all children are different—and admit that theirs are not aliens that would reject fried chicken strips when given the chance to eat them, so many of their recipes have a bit of a sweet edge to appeal to the younger palate. One hundred kid tested recipes and profiles of 25 different veggies that include nutritional info and tips on selecting and preparing them are included. There is also a seasonal index of recipes that enables you to cook freshest items in your market.  With all of the above this book will have you well on your way to improving the nutritional content of your next delicious meal.”

A down-to-earth guide for busy parents trying to raise healthy kids.
(Jeff McIntire Strasburg Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe)

In our hectic, fast-paced, busy lives, parents often put healthy eating on the back burner. The Cleaner Plate Club is full of tips to help families go “from nuggets to nutritious.” Authors Beth
Bader and Ali Benjamin remind us how we can enjoy real food again and share recipes that both taste good and are good for you. Their encouraging emphasis on healthy and simple ways to
prepare whole foods is enough to turn even the most resistant parent into a “kitchen convert.” A must have for every family’s kitchen!
(Jennifer Shu, MD, Pediatrician and co-author of Food Fights)

"Authors and bloggers Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin both believe that having children should not automatically necessitate cooking one meal for the adults and a separate meal for the little ones.  And their book, The Cleaner Plate Club, proves that they know what they’re talking about. This gem of a cookbook covers all the bases."

"...thankfully written for Real Parents, meaning we who want the best for our families, but who are very, very tired...This book is jammed with info: guidelines, pantry lists, meal-planning techniques and time-savers--yet the energetic authors make it feel as fresh as our next family dinner can be, with their plate-cleaning help."
(Publishers Weekly)

"This crayon-colored real-food manifesto from mommy bloggers Bader and Benjamin, gives parents plenty of ammo in the never-ending battle to get their kids to eat better."
(Library Journal)

Real moms and food bloggers Bader and Benjamin join forces to educate, inform, and inspire us about feeding the kids. They've endeavored to create a kind of handbook with guidelines for
family nutrition by providing healthy recipes, supermarket strategies, and vegetable profiles.
Sprinkled with quotations (from Michael Pollan, among others, of course!), the book also includes interesting information on pesticide residues in produce, analyses of oils, and tips for dealing with sugar fiends and balky eaters. The resource section lists organizations, publications, and favorite cookbooks. Presented in a colorful, kid-friendly style, with mom-next-door chatty text, this guide offers advice on what to choose and how to cook it in a fast-food age.
The market for books on this subject continues to grow following Pollan's 2006 best seller, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and this is a useful addition. Great for public libraries and all readers interested in healthy cooking/shopping for the family.
(Mother Earth News)

  “Keeping your resolution just got easier thanks to The Cleaner Plate Club, the incredibly engaging book by esteemed food bloggers Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin.”                                                                                                                     —
(KCUR, Kansas City Public Media)

“It's like Michael Pollan for real people."
(Kitchen Daily)


“A friendly, balanced mix of real food manifesto, vegetable encyclopedia, and regular weeknight cookbook.”

(The Chicago Tribune)

“The Cleaner Plate Club” won’t tell you that you’re a bad parent because your kid is a picky eater. Authors Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin won’t brag about how their own kids gulp down sushi or delight in mommy’s made-from-scratch carrot souffle. They won’t even tell you that you have to be a stealth cook, hiding spinach in brownies and zucchini in mac ‘n’ cheese. They’ll just show you how to make simple, delicious, kid-friendly food, support you in your efforts to get it on the table and remind you that, if worse comes to worst (as it often does when the food critics are too young to crayon without supervision) tomorrow is another day.”
(Kansas City Star)

"Bader and Benjamin’s book is packed with both familiar-sounding recipes (mac and cheese with ham and broccoli) and many that aren’t (honey-spice roasted cauliflower and curried eggplant with long beans). This is more than a cookbook, though. The pair also tackles pickiness, high-fructose corn syrup, school lunches and other issues. They offer primers on fats, sugars and e. coli and quote food activists including Marion Nestle and Barbara Kingsolver…(it offers) plenty of do-able recipes, complete with advice on shopping, prepping and adapting whole ingredients."
(Boston Mamas)

“Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin have waded, with great success, into (picky eating) with the recent publication of The Cleaner Plate Club: Raising Healthy Eaters One Meal at a Time. The book is a cookbook, with many easy-to-handle recipes that claim to help kids develop their palates without frightening them away from new flavors, but also a good how-to manual for the parent…. The book also contains lots of helpful information — generally presented in a non-preachy way — about nutrition and the food industry and the value of farmers’ markets and the difference between whole foods and processed foods. And while I’ve just begun to explore the recipes, my early efforts with the fish curry (page 221) suggest that I will have a long and happy relationship with The Cleaner Plate Club. Whether your kid eats everything or nothing, this book will have something for you.”
(The San Francisco Book Review)

“For every parent facing the age old question of how to get kids to eat better food comes The Cleaner Plate Club. This book is more than a cookbook: it is a guide to feeding your children vegetables in a way they will enjoy. The authors, Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin, are both experienced and successful bloggers with children; they know what they’re talking about…The recipes are simple and delicious, the information is eye-opening and thoughtfully arranged, and the overall book design is extremely user-friendly and just plain fun. This book is a valuable resource for parents with children of all ages.”
(Sixty Second Parent)

Besides Nigella Lawson’s “How to Be a Domestic Goddess,” I can’t think of another cookbook that causes me to laugh out loud. From page one, I felt like I was sitting at my table with old friends. This isn’t just a cookbook: it’s an educational arsenal to wield your way with grace and dexterity through the carnival that is the modern American food system…Without increasing my weekly budget, I increased our vegetable consumption at our evening meals by two vegetable dishes a night. It was no longer a battle of eat your veggies,’ but a question of ‘which vegetable would you like to eat tonight?’”

“Co-authors Beth Bader and Alison (Ali) Benjamin met through Ali’s food blog, bonded over kale chips, and launched this book out of shared concern for raising kids on healthy food (wait for it…) that they’ll actually eat! More than a manifesto, it’s a personable modern guide to choosing and cooking tasty, healthful foods for your kids–and you, too. Cheerful graphics and a chatty tone make its recipes, strategies for smart grocery shopping, and nutritional info appealing to the whole family. You’ll love this book’s practicality (as well as Marion Nestle’s What to Eat) if The Omnivore’s Dilemma caught your eye.”
(Odyssey Books)

“This colorful cookbook is great for kids or adults. The introduction profiles different ingredients, as well as shopping strategies and information on nutrition and food in the United States. Other sections include how to cook seasonally, how to convert recipes for your slow-cooker, and why to shop at farmers’ markets. Fun, colorful illustrations and photos accompany these sections. The recipes include such delicious dishes as Pumpkin-White Cheddar Soup, Carrot-Quinoa “Biryani”, and Pumpkin Gnocchi. An informative cookbook for children, parents…just about anyone, really!”

I really really like this book…It’s a very thorough book, very readable, very friendly…ultimately, it gives you tons and tons of strategies, recipes, instructions for how to use whole foods — which of course don’t come with instructions — to make mealtime not only more pleasant, but more healthy for the kids and for the rest of the family.
(Cookbook Digest)

"If your offspring don’t devour the zucchini-bacon fritters and pumpkin white-cheddar soup, you most certainly will."


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; 1 Original edition (January 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1603425853
  • ISBN-13: 978-1603425858
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #441,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have not written a review before but I just cleaned the dishes and I wanted to brag, because my kids ate my cooking. I am not a confident cook. I get overwhelmed by dinner time, I have such guilt that I am just scared to cook, even for my children. The Cleaner Plate Club is probably my 6th kid-oriented cook book. Anyway, I was drawn to it by the title, the colors, the easy to follow sections. Even so, I can let a book sit on my shelf for months before I try anything, but this time, I just hunkered down and made a meatloaf! I was surprised by what a difference their attitude made. I found it less scary to try the meatloaf because they have a way of letting you screw up and still feel like you are doing it right(?) seriously. I feel very grateful for this book. It is really disarming and fun. I think these women speak to me, not down to me, and my very chaotic life. The food is interesting, simple, so far very tasty and dare I say forgiving? I recommend this to anyone who is a working mom, like me, and looking for a more contemporary and real approach to cooking.
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Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon this book while my daughter was eating her typical not-so-healthy snack at the local health food store (white-flour bagel and a giant serving of cream cheese). We read the list of breakfast ideas together and discovered all sorts of things that she gave the thumbs up to trying, despite her notoriously picky tendencies. I'm a pretty healthy eater myself, but not much of a cook -- trying to teach my kid healthy habits and find the imagination and time to offer her good food has been a struggle. This book has given us so many new ideas that are appealing and reasonable to make; many are quick and simple, many introduce super foods that otherwise kids turn up their noses at (kale! aka Power Fairy Food!). I'm thrilled to have found a book that offers so much pragmatic info, delicious recipes, and sound parenting advice combined with great writing and really fun authorial voice. Also must mention the design, photos, and illustrations are gorgeous! Great presentation of wonderful material. Thanks!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the short time we've had this book (about 1 week), we've already used 4 or 5 recipes and they were all a delicious way to eat some healthy food. The information contained in the well-written (and quite funny) prose in the first few chapters is extremely useful. While designed for moms and dads trying to raise healthy eaters, it is also a great cookbook and information source for couples without children - really for anyone concerned about the state of American food production "machine" and nutrition in general. The section about "meeting your veggies" is great for anyone using a CSA and finding him- or herself occasionally dumbfounded by a particular weekly vegetable selection. If you are trying to cook delicious and kid-friendly meals for your family, you need to buy this book. But even if you are single or a childless couple, there is a great deal of excellent information in this book, and it also happens to be an extremely engaging and worthwhile read.
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Format: Paperback
I have never written a cookbook review. I'm not a cooking "snob" but I am always looking for different recipes and I like to experiment with cooking because I get bored with cooking and eating the same things. I came across this cookbook at my local library and after spending 20 minutes with it at home... I was so frustrated that I couldn't do what I typically do with cookbooks that I own... go through and dog ear all the pages with recipes that I want to try first... because there were SO MANY recipes that I wanted to try from this book! I am a relatively healthy eater and cook, however, my very picky 7-year old daughter seems to only be interested in food items that are covered in chocolate sauce! I don't prepare much of that at home, however, that doesn't prevent her from passing up the food I make and just waiting for the next sugary snack to show up from somewhere else... as is pointed out in the book... these days, kids have a seemingly never-ending stream of small sugary things coming at them from all directions... friends' birthday parties, holiday and birthday celebrations at school, soccer practice snacks, in the bank drive-thru, as a reward for good work or good behavior at the sitter's, etc.... add it all up and I swear, my daughter could still survive without hardly eating a meal that I prepare! I could SOOOOO relate to the section of the book that talks about this. But viola!... enter the most effective solution... healthy, easy-to-prepare, foods my daughter ACTUALLY likes!! I've prepared 3 recipes so far... She's gobbled them up and asked me to make them again! I'm really shocked at how well these recipes have been tailored to appeal to kids' taste buds, yet are foods that adults will enjoy. I mean seriously...Read more ›
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By foodrd on December 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After looking at all the positive reviews I thought I had to add this to my cookbook collection but I was disappointed once it arrived. There are several recipes in this book but not as many as I expected for it's size. Unfortunately, the few recipes that I have tried have not been great and will not be repeated. Most of them are rehashed versions that appear in every other contemporary cookbook but not as well done. On the postive side, this book offers lots of good advice for cleaning up your diet and incorporating healthy lifestyle changes which I fully support...but already follow. My recommendation: If your family's diet consists of large quantities of processed foods and fast foods and you want to eat healthier but don't know where to start, get this book. If you already eat healthy and are looking to widen your culinary experience, there are better cookbooks out there.
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