Eat Like a Dinosaur – a Review and a Giveaway

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Matt and Stacy of saying they’d send me a copy of their new cookbook for kids, Eat Like A Dinosaur, if I’d be so kind as to review it.

I said, “I’d love to!”  So there – I got a free copy of the book in exchange for a review.  It’s not as if I have to give it a good one, right?

Well, that’s not going to happen, because overall the book is excellent.

Matt and Stacy are parents to three small boys.  They were both overweight and their two older sons suffered from a myriad of health and behavior problems – asthma, eczema, ADHD, self-control issues and both were in the upper range for weight while being in the normal range for height, putting them at danger of suffering from the same weight problems as their parents.  About the time their youngest son was born, they decided to treat these issues with diet, and adopted a paleo lifestyle.

Matt and Stacy lost 200 pounds between the two of them, and the problems their sons were dealing with disappeared – some, like the behavior problems, almost immediately and some, like the eczema, over a period of weeks.  Both boys’ weight also normalized.  Their youngest son, who has never consumed any grains, legumes or dairy, has “by a noticeable degree, been [their] most trouble-free, happy baby.”  Unlike his brothers, he’s rarely sick, experiencing one fever in the first 18 months of his life and no hospitalizations, when his oldest brother had been hospitalized twice as a baby.

Yes, they credit his diet, and I tend to agree with them.

The opening section of the book tells this story in much greater detail, of course, along with the challenges they faced switching their older boys to a diet devoid of Goldfish crackers, peanut butter sandwiches and Kraft mac n’ cheese.  This is followed by a section of kitchen tools you might find useful when cooking their recipes, along with ingredients not generally found in the average kitchen – and that’s the source of my first issue with the book (albeit a mild one).  The recipes often rely quite heavily on often hard-to-find and/or expensive ingredients or equipment, such as a coconut cream concentrate, coconut aminos and raw macadamia nuts (something that falls into both categories).  For those of us that are already on board with this diet or a similar one, most, if not all, of these things are in our kitchens, but for a parent seeking an alternative to the Standard American Diet for their children or those on a strapped budget, the recommendation you own an ice cream maker as well as a stand mixer with a meat grinder attachment could be intimidating.

The next section is a story, complete with colorful illustrations, directed at the kids for whom the book is intended.  Told from the perspective of the oldest son, Cole, it explains in an entertaining and very understandable manner why the family eats the way they do, how the boys reacted to it, and how their new diet has made everyone feel better.  For an older child, the concept of eating like a dinosaur might be stretching it (dinosaurs don’t eat cookies, even if they might eat the ingredients used to make them), but young children will most likely embrace the idea – it was a stroke of brilliance on the part of Matt and Stacy.

The center, and largest, section is the – ahem – meat of the book:  the recipes.  And there are a LOT of them, beginning with Main Dishes (beef, pork, poultry, eggs and seafood), and Side Dishes (mostly vegetables and starches, with one egg, one fruit and a recipe for meat stock). Dips and Sauces are next, which is really smart – if their kids are anything like The G Man, they will eat both meats and vegetables much more readily if they have something to dip them in. Snacks, then Special Treats, are last, which brings me to my only other issue with the book – the Snacks and Special Treats sections are almost as large as the other three sections combined. While the Side Dishes contain only nine vegetable recipes, the Treats section alone contains 28 recipes – the next largest section, Main Dishes, contains only 26.

I understand the reasons behind this, I really do – it’s hard for kids of any age to be denied the yummy treats their friends and peers seem to endlessly indulge in, but it’s especially difficult for small children who generally couldn’t care less about the healthful properties of the food they are eating; all they care about is how something tastes.  And to give Matt and Stacy credit, they incorporate as many healthful ingredients – fresh fruit, avocados, even zucchini – into these recipes as they can, but many still contain plenty of sweeteners in the form of dates, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar and evaporated cane juice; some recipes use more than one kind.  They also rely very heavily on almond flour, almond butter and almond milk, as well as other nuts, for these treats, so if your child suffers from a tree nut allergy, the snacks and treats recipes you can make become limited.

There are no real surprises as far as the recipes go, but that is a good thing – children generally don’t like surprises when it comes to their food.  The purpose of the cookbook is to introduce kids to a way of eating that is far more healthful than the Standard American Diet, and Eat Like A Dinosaur succeeds spectacularly in this endeavor.  Understanding that children are far more likely to eat a wide range of foods if they are involved in the preparation, each recipe comes with steps that are safe and easy for kids to perform.  Many of the recipes are also given fun names – Roast Pork with Squish Squashy Apples, Fish in a Boat, Rat on a Stick, Mock-A-Mole and Bunny’s Soup are just a few.  Nor are any of the recipes particularly lengthy or complicated, an important consideration for busy parents.

Do the recipes taste good?  The Rat on a Stick (well, our version was just “Rat” because Meema was out of skewers) and Maple Butternut Squash Purée do – The G Man ate both quite enthusiastically.  This surprised me, because the recipe for Rat on a Stick called for two tablespoons of red Thai curry paste, and I worried it would be too spicy for the little guy’s palate, but he wolfed it down – after dipping each bite in the squash purée.  I have no reason to believe that the rest of the dishes aren’t every bit as delicious.  Hey, I’m more than a little impressed that they can get their boys to eat salmon – I can’t get The Young One, who is 17, to touch it.

The last section of the book is full of helpful information – how to pack a paleo lunch for your child, how to shop a farmer’s market and plan the week’s meals around the seasonal ingredients you find, even how to shop at yard sales and thrift stores for those kitchen gadgets that might otherwise be out of your reach financially – and how to do each of these things while herding 3 small boys around (again, I’m nothing but impressed).  There is also a chart outlining which recipes contain ingredients that are common allergens – fish, shellfish, eggs and nuts.  Of course, there are no recipes with grains, dairy, legumes or industrial seed oils.

So, do I recommend Eat Like A Dinosaur?  I do!  I like it so much that I am giving not one, but two, away.  In the interest of transparency, I was not given the additional copies for this giveaway – I’ve purchased them myself.  Yup, I’m that impressed with it.

To win a copy of Eat Like A Dinosaur, simply leave me a comment stating why you’d like it.  One entry per person, so leaving more than one comment won’t give you multiple chances to win.  I’ll close the contest Saturday, March 31 2012 at midnight and announce the winner on Tuesday, April 3 2012.

Happy eating like a dinosaur, y’all!

50 thoughts on “Eat Like a Dinosaur – a Review and a Giveaway”

  1. I am a mother of 4. Over 2 years ago we figured out my daughter had a huge gluten intolerance, thus started our battle with food. We have struggled to find healthy recipes for all my children that they love to eat and have only come up with a handful. I am positive this book would help us find a few more meals that my children would enjoy, all while giving me the peace of mind they are eating the way they are supposed to eat. I am grateful that my daughter is gluten intolerant or we never would have found the Paleo way of eating!

  2. My kid is ADHD up the wazoo. We eat clean as well as we can, and when we took wheat off his plate? His eczema cleared up and his impressions of Linda Blair stopped. He’s still volatile, full of energy and arguments and sheer, nine-year-old spunk, but the rages and the out of control anger are gone, thanks to the day I started doing some research and discovered that perhaps wheat and gluten weren’t the good things we’d been told about in the eighties!

    Plus, he’s wanted to be a paleontologist ever since he could say the word Tyrannasaurus, so “Eat Like a Dinosaur” makes him laugh out loud every time I talk about the cookbook!

  3. I would like to win this because while I love the paleo lifestyle it can be hard to get my 3 small children on board! Thank you!

  4. I have 5 kiddo’s who suffer from eczema, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, red dye allergies, rashes, infant asthma just to name a few, I have just recently discovered this lifestyle and can not wait to see the difference in my family! My 17 month old son was sitting on my lap as I was reading an article on Eat Like a Dinosaur and he was so fascinated by the book cover we knew we had to have this book!

  5. I have completely changed my eating habits in the last 2 weeks and feel so much better. I would love to have a copy of this book so I can make interesting meals for my family that conform to this new way of eating. I am seeing a naturopathic doctor who told me that due to our family’s Scottish genetics, we should stay away from carbs and stick to fish, meat and vegetables. I have noticed a huge surge in energy since I started eating this way and would love recipes and menu ideas to create variety.

  6. As a mom of 5 boys, I could definitely use some new ideas. Snacks and breakfasts are getting stale.

  7. Thanks so much for the giveaway! I would love to win a copy because we are trying hard to switch the kiddos over to a healthier diet, but I am finding it hard to come up with good ideas for recipes!

  8. Hi, I’m a mom of four under 7 years. My first has tree nut allergies and my third has severe milk and egg allergies and suspected gut issues, which in all my research has me linking the gut issues to the allergy formations, especially the effect of gluten on the gut. This book sounds great and it would be great to have a reference to look with the kids to help them understand wellness and try to explain to them it’s in their best interest to eat differently then most of their friends, and it doesn’t have to be a hard thing, in fact it can be fun!

  9. I’d love a copy of this book. I have been Paleo myself for a little over a year, but my husband is not on board at all so making the switch for my 4 year old has been difficult. I eat some pretty darn yummy stuff, but she won’t touch it. I’d love to have some ideas for kid friendly dishes. She loves to help me cook so I love the idea that this book tells you the steps that are kid friendly. I’m hoping the story of the book will help her better understand why I make the healthy choices I make! Thanks for the chance! 🙂

  10. I would love to win a copy of this book. I have two kids that have celiac disease, and I struggle with dietary problems myself. I would enjoy having this book to cook with my kids and convince them that the healthy food doesn’t have to be weird and it can be fun!

  11. I have eaten a gluten free diet for a over a year, and refuse to buy packaged gluten free foods. I am considering trying a paleo diet to give myself a good set of guidleines to avoid not only gluten, but all the bad stuff as well. Great review – and I may buy it now! Thanks!

  12. Thanks for the helpful review! I’d love to win this book. I have celiac disease and leaky gut so I’m strictly forbidden to eat non-paleo foods; and I’m allergic to many paleo-friendly foods as well. I’d love to try some new recipes! I’m tired of eating eggs for lunch and plain soup for dinner over and over again.

  13. I’d love to win this. It’d be great for cooking with my 5-yo daughter. 🙂

    Butternut squash and maple. Yum. We had some last night with some cinnamon butter, but maple is a genius idea! Thanks for sharing!

  14. WOW! Just based on these comments it is a wonder that everyone isn’t eating real food by now! What a testimony for the book simply based on the need to help bring kids to healthy eating.

    By the way, the G-man, a true dipper if there ever was one, went right past the ketchup to dip the rat in the squash. That alone sold me on the book!

  15. LooKing for healthier alternatives for my 3 boys…we’ve cut out most gluten but lunch
    Has been the hardest part! They love their pb&j!!
    Would love this book! Thanks!!

  16. If I won I’d give it to my friends, whose daughter is just now old enough to start eating solid food. They’re interested in a paleolithic/primal diet but not sure where to start. They were recently looking for a dinosaur book for their little girl but all the books targeted at girls were pink and about looking pretty and other silly gendered nonsense. I think this book would be appreciated on multiple fronts!

  17. I was really happy to read this review. I’m a newcomer to eating a Paleo diet for an autoimmune digestive disease. I’ll be honest in that it hasn’t been easy. The most difficult part has been the treats and snacks department. I do have a sweet tooth and so I was happy to read that this section of the book was quite large and would perhaps make the transition a little easier. Plus, as an added benefit, I just might be able to convert my 20 year-old son to at least try some healthier versions of sweet foods and snacks.

    Thanks for having this contest!!

  18. While I don’t have kids yet, I know this book will be a great addition to my growing collection of paleo cookbooks that are constantly inspiring me to cook healthier for my husband and myself… and encouraging our loved ones. A free copy is awesome because I know there is no way my husband would currently let me go out and get this copy. So, fingers crossed maybe this goes my way 🙂

  19. I would love the book, my 7 year old daughter was just diagnosed with ADHD and we are already gluten and dairy free. I want to take her Paleo to help her symptoms, I don’t want to put her on meds. She is a picky eater so any leg up I can get on getting her to embrace paleo would change our lives. Thank you!

  20. My husband and I are fairly new to Paleo (since Dec 2011) and I’m constantly scouring for new recipes to try. I also want to be able to have kid-friendly recipes when my niece and nephew visit, so this cookbook would be GREAT!

  21. I would love this book because I have a little man about GMan’s age. He is starting to dislike the SAD diet (even refusing to eat fruit loops!) I figure that while I can cook almost anything, having a cookbook that describes eating like a dinosaur would help the effort better.
    Is this contest open to residents of Canada Jan?

  22. I’d love the book for my litte brother – his favorite foods are cereal or oatmeal for breakfast, and a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch. Everyday. I want to see him get excited about healthy food!

  23. Thank you for the great information on this book! I would love to win a copy. I have two granddaughters and we are all working hard to change our diets. I started reading your blog because I have been gluten-free for two years now and feeling so much more alive! My husband used to be on Lipitor and had muscle aches and felt bad. The physician’s solution was to increase the doses of Lipitor. A chiropractor, instead, put him on a no carb diet and added supplements and fish oil. That was a about five years ago and he’s never looked back. This made it much easier for me to switch once I discovered I was poisoning myself everyday with gluten.

    Thank you to everyone out there who is sharing their stories. It really encourages us to keep learning! We live in a very rural area so the internet is our support group.

  24. In order to have a more healthy household my husband and I decided to go Paleo. After going Paleo we realized just how much our bodies were in pain before and we never noticed. Then we noticed the change in our two young children. I am super excited about this book.

  25. Hi, your review was great! I have three kids and we all have to be gluten free so our family decided to go Paleo last fall. I am looking for any and all good cookbooks – especially for kids – more variety the better! Thanks for this contest! :~)

  26. I would love to have a copy of this book for my 2 youngest boys, ages 9 and 12. I have been paleo for about 6 months and have been trying to my family on board, but it is very hard. This book might do the trick!

  27. I’d love to have some kid-friendly recipes in my arsenal to bring to potlucks to show our friends and families that Paleo can work for kids.

  28. Thank you so much for writing an open, honest review and for choosing to share your enthusiasm for the book by hosting this giveaway! I would love to win this book because we are educating ourselves and planning to move away from our terrible, typical american diet…not only for the benefit of my husband and myself (both morbidly obese) but for our children (suspected allergies, suspected ADD, eczema). At this time, I cannot afford to purchase the book and I’m relying solely on information I can get on the internet and the library. I think the ELaD book would be so helpful in explaining the transition to my dinosaur-infatuated 4-year-old and the recipes and wealth of information would be icing on the cake!

  29. I would love a copy to get some more creative lunch ideas for my little one. Currently, she is getting rolled up lunch meat and chopped veggies and fruit. I am not sure how much longer until she burns out! Thanks for the giveaway.

  30. I am a college student, currently living in a dorm, and doing my best to eat in a Paleo-esque way! It all began when I started reading your blog, and I am now totally on board with the horror that is the Standard American Diet and all the benefits of eating real, whole food. I would love the book because a) cooking all my food in a 1950s dorm kithcen limits my options a tad and b) I’m still working on my cooking skills ;), so I think a kids Paleo book might be just the ticket!

  31. I actually already have the book, but if I won I’d pay it forward and give it to a family who could benefit from adapting a grain-free/paleo diet. Eating primally has done absolute wonders for my family and I think ELaD does such a nice job of explaining a concept that is incredibly foreign to some familes (“No grains? No dairy? Whaaaaaaaat???”).

  32. I would love a copy of the book. I love reading Paleo Parents blog, it’s be a great helper when I stumbled on the and new the whole Paleo thing as of late last year, after being a very long term vegetarian/vegan/raw-foodist you name it, who has health issues and finding out that it’s most likely been a gluten issue all along and now working to give up the wheat. I’m still having issues with “can it just be as good or can you even make that without the wheat?” So the book would be a great helper for transitioning.

  33. I’d love to win because I have my nieces and nephews over all the time and would love to be able to share some fun recipes with them and teach them a little bit about how to think about the food they are eating.

  34. Thank you for taking the time to do such an insightful review of Eat Like A Dinosaur. I would love a copy of this cookbook! My family is in the process of transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle in a community where hardly anyone has even heard of Paleo. The more fun resources we have to share, the better! Again, thank you for another great post.

  35. I’d like to try it in the hopes that my youngest–the world’s worst eater–might be enticed to try some more food options. It would be good for us to try to eat a bit more on the healthy side and if this makes it easier, I’m all for it.

  36. I would love to try it – I definitely need more help convincing my kids (and even more so, my husband) that paleo is the way to go. Thanks for the giveaway.

  37. *jumping up and down* I would LOVE to get my hands on a copy of this – not only would it help thwart Princess Nagger’s picky eating ways (because c’mon, the future Paleontologist can’t turn her nose up at food from a dinosaur cookbook!) but might help get her to eat better than she currently is. I’m also betting it might help with Little Dude’s behavioral issues that tend to be in roller coaster mode. 😉 Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  38. I would love to win, I have celiacs and I am always looking for new things to try in the kitchen

  39. It would be wonderful to have a tangible cookbook that my kiddos and I can look through and pick out recipes together. Love that there’s a story in there for the kids as well.

    By the way, my girls love your meatloaf cupcakes with sweet potato frosting!

  40. I would like to win in hopes that with access to more recipes my family and I can heal for our auto immune disease with a paleo lifestyle.

  41. I would love one of these books because I am trying hard to make better food choices, but it is not always easy to convince my kids! I have already lost 25 pounds trying to cook for myself and for them, this could help me find things we could all eat together!

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