If you have been looking for ways to support a grain-free diet for your entire family, the new Paleo Kids Cookbook coming out September 6 from Arlington mom and Predominantly Paleo blogger Jennifer Robins is just the ticket!
Jennifer has been on fire since the debut of We All Scream for Ice Cream, an eBook of allergy-friendly ice cream recipes she wrote with nutritionist Vivien Cheng. Then, last summer she published Down South Paleo: Delectable Southern Recipes Adapted for Gluten-free, Paleo Eaters and appeared at Paleo FX. This spring saw the publication of The New Yiddish Kitchen: Gluten-Free and Paleo Kosher Recipes for the Holidays and Every Day with co-author Simone Miller of Zenbelly.
Now, Jennifer is coming out with her new book specially geared toward children: The Paleo Kids Cookbook: Transition Your Family to Delicious Grain- and Gluten-free Food for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating
Jennifer has three kids and has seen first-hand how diet dramatically affects health. As we told our readers last summer, Jennifer has been pursuing a grain-free path to healing since she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis after the birth of her second child in 2008. She explains on her blog how eliminating dairy made a huge difference for her daughters, one of whom suffered from sleep apnea and enlarged tonsils. Those shrunk upon eliminating dairy, as did the lymph nodes of Jennifer’s other daughter.
We asked Jennifer for some insight about how things have been going in her family of late, including during her book tours.
Jessica of Mindful Healthy Life: First of all, congratulations on the success of your books so far and the forthcoming publication of the new book. I can’t wait!
Jennifer: Thank you! I’m really excited about this one because it has a very different mission than my other print books so far. I’m really hoping it will be a tool to many.
MHL: When you first started working in the ice cream book, did you know you had at least three more books in you and did you get a contract for them all at once, or did each come about on its own? And are there others in the works?
Jennifer: I had no idea I would ever even have the opportunity to write a print book! I had just started officially blogging five months before the ebook so I HOPED to maybe have a print book one day, but I had no idea if it was a possibility or not. I pitched my first one, Down South Paleo: Delectable Southern Recipes Adapted for Gluten-free, Paleo Eaters to one publisher who, three months later, declined. It took awhile for me to muster up the courage to pitch again, but the 2nd publisher was interested and said so upon my initial email. I have one more book after The Paleo Kids Cookbook called Paleo Cooking With Your Instant Pot: 80 Incredible Gluten- and Grain-Free Recipes Made Twice as Delicious in Half the Time coming out in January.
MHL: How have you managed your days of coming up with recipes, especially during the summer but also during the school year with your youngest still in preschool part-time?
Jennifer: I try to use my time wisely. So things like shopping and writing recipes I try to do when everyone is out of the house. Things like recording recipes I can do in the evenings when everyone is in bed, once the kitchen is cleaned up!
MHL: And what has it been like to go on book tours and appear at events? How have your kids responded? What has been super fun, and what has been more challenging?
Jennifer: Participating in public events is a double edged sword. I actually HATE public appearances and speaking engagements, but ADORE my readers. So it’s one of those things I nervously anticipate but then end up really enjoying once I’m there!
MHL: How involved were your kids in the creation of recipes in the newest book?
Jennifer: Well I let them taste test everything because they can be picky at times too, so I wanted to make sure the recipes passed the test. I didn’t dare dream of putting “meh” recipes in a book geared towards transitioning picky kids to a whole foods diet. So they helped taste test and they helped prep and cook foods so I could really document what they were capable of – this in turn contributed to the “little hands” tips featured in every recipe. They also were photographed for the book so they had a visual feature as well!
MHL: Be honest with us: Did you have to cut some corners and compromise some of your priorities on healthy living and eating while you were facing deadlines? Weren’t you making edits on two different books simultaneously while also writing the third?
Jennifer: I have had periods where I drop balls and sometimes it’s ugly. For instance, I had 3 books overlap with different needs and checklists back in March and I ended up in the ER with some scary symptoms. Sometimes I still need lessons on listening to my body and learning to slow down and practice self care.
MHL: Have you been able to get back to a more regular protocol since the book was completed and in the publisher’s hands? Or did you have to go back even further to do some recovery after all the long nights and cut corners?
Jennifer: One thing I try to be really good about is sleep. So I try to get a full 8-9 hours nightly and when I do that I am ok. But I do have to slow down and breathe and eat well and focus on veggie intake. I admit to letting that part go during times when I grab more “convenient” foods. Don’t get me wrong, my foods of convenience are not from drive-thrus, but they are not always as nutrient dense as they need to be during stressful and busy times.
MHL: And how is your health now? It’s easy for outsiders like me to assume you’ve got it all figured out, but you still have to watch what you eat, take a number of supplements, and check in with your doctor(s) regularly, right? The journey continues?
Jennifer: I will always have ups and downs. I think that is part of juggling a career and 3 kids alongside autoimmune disease and chronic infections. I am okay right now – trying to launch a new business which is really exciting but also stepping back and learning where I need to outsource certain things instead of trying to do it all on my own. Live and learn! I still check in with my favorite doctor, Dr. Freeman at NIHA, who wrote the forward to my new book, and my Lyme doc too. They keep me in check and help me realize when my symptoms are more stress induced than anything.
MHL: What is your kids’ favorite thing from the new cookbook? What is yours?
Jennifer: Oh gosh, ummm, I think they like the pizza pockets and quesadillas a ton! The cheese is dairy-free and nut-free. They also like all the desserts of course because what kid doesn’t!?
I am most proud of my Legit Bread; it’s nut free, grain free, dairy free, soy free and has the best texture for sandwich bread. I’m really excited about that one!
MHL: When people new on their healing journey reach out to you — and I know there are hundreds and hundreds who do! — what advice do you find yourself giving over and over? Or what would you tell yourself if you could go back in time?
Jennifer: There are a few things I tell them – One, you HAVE to eat clean. A body trying to heal cannot do so filled with crap. Two, surround yourself with supporters who believe in your journey. Negativity can really bring a sick person down even more. Three, simplify wherever possible, if you can work less, sleep more, limit obligations, these all help. If I could go back in time, I would have taken better care of myself – eaten less processed food, never gone on hormonal birth control in my 20s, and I would definitely not have gotten breast implants. But my path and choices brought me to this point, exactly where I am supposed to be, so I try not to live with regrets.
MHL: Tell us about how we can learn more. I know you are speaking on October 20 to the Arlington/Alexandria Chapter of Holistic Moms Network on “Healing from Chronic Illness with Paleo Diets.” For those who don’t know, Holistic Moms meeting are open to members and first-time visitors. In fact, you and I met when Stacy Toth of Paleo Parents came to address the chapter in late 2013!
Do you have a schedule of appearances to promote the new book or are there any other talks you’re giving? And are there any upcoming events you are attending that you think others should check out?
Jennifer: I am still working on other local appearances: details coming soon! As for other events, honestly, I am looking forward to being a homebody when the kids go back to school and getting my new business off the ground. I can’t wait to share more details about that soon!
MHL: What is next for you? Will there be more cookbooks?(if you didn’t answer that above). You once told me you’d like to pursue production of bagels and bread. Is that something that’s in the works or might be in the future? What about more public speaking? I encourage our readers to follow Predominantly Paleo on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up with her many projects.
Jennifer: More to come on this! No more books for now. I have written four books in two years which is really sort of insane. I am working on some other exciting things that should be public soon! As for public speaking, I’m not so sure I can do too much of that. I get such anxiety that I swear my adrenals hate me for weeks afterwards! I will continue working with safer skincare, a newer passion of mine. It’s something I didn’t switch over until more recently and I’m feeling really good about getting the crap out of my house and off my skin and face!
MHL: Finally, I have to ask about your crafty side, Jennifer. It seems like you are posting about another home renovation project every week! Pick a photo to share with our readers about one of your projects, and tell us, how do you find the time and energy to take on these projects with such a health regimen to keep up with?
Jennifer: I LOVE LOVE LOVE crafting. For me, creating and crafting is how I decompress. I started noticing that I did home improvement stuff when I was in the middle of a million other projects I should be focused on – or when I would be trying to prepare for a trip. I realize now that this is how I calm my buzz and feel more grounded. I escape into crafting or home improvement projects and feel the weight of the world literally lift off my shoulders. It’s the best. My favorite project lately was the kids playhouse in the backyard. I didn’t design it but I worked to make it “personalized” and assembled it alone (with the help of another mom neighbor). It weighed a ton and I felt really proud after I was able to build and customize it!
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For an additional behind-the-scenes interview with Jennifer, check out Jessica’s personal blog, Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
Enter below to win a signed copy of Jennifer’s forthcoming The Paleo Kids Cookbook: Transition Your Family to Delicious Grain- and Gluten-free Food for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating! Be the first on your block to own it! Thanks to Jennifer for contributing a review copy and a copy for the giveaway!
Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life. She is a writer, editor, emerging novelist, and the founder of the Arlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network. Her personal blog is Crunchy-Chewy Mama and her writer’s site is JessicaClaireHaney.com. See the Contributors page and Jessica’s Mindful Healthy Life Q&A for more on Jessica.
I love paleo and have been gf for almost 2 years. My son just started gf living and I really want to share this experience with him for it to be a positive experience and not a “I can’t have this but my friends can” experience.
Nikki Godwin says
The paleo diet was recommended by my doctor. Since starting I have lost over 40lbs in a year and half. I am really looking forward to this cookbook and making something to eat everyone can enjoy.
Sara Jamback says
Thank you for such a great blog post and give-away! I have been a fan of Jennifer since her first book!
We started a gluten free diet when my daughter was complaining of stomachaches nearly every night. We cut the gluten and the stomachaches went away! What a huge difference it has made for her!
Thank you for interviewing Jennifer at Predominantly Paleo! She is one of my favorite bloggers and I always learn so much from her! Now she has introduced me to MHL!
Tracy Furze says
I feel so much better eating a grain free diet. I love cookbooks and trying new recipes.
Thanks for giveaway! Would love to win this book to help me feed my son and niece better :)
I feel so much better when I eat gluten free, now hope to get the family on board with Jennifer’s new Paleo Kids book. My kids are addicted to carbs/bread so I would love to win this book to help in my endeavor. Thanks!
I eat paleo due to health reasons – celiac + multiple food allergies.
Carol Salisbury says
I got into eating Gluten Free, Paleo and now AIP because of illness. I had tried vegan (to lose weight) and although I started out fine I quickly started feeling sicker & sicker, so I said “to heck with that, I don’t care if I lose any weight, I need to start eating for my illnesses” So I hit the internet looking for foods that worked for my hypothyroid and my asthma (& now Hashimoto’s, Sjogren’s & arthritis). In my research, I realize that the stomach aches I’ve had for years were really a gluten issue and not an overeating issue that I kept telling myself it was! So I gave up gluten and what a relief that was! With more research, I found Paleo and jumped in. Over the course of the next year, I lost most of the weight I had given up on losing and started feeling soooooo much better! It is amazing to me how much I understand my body now…the signs it gives me when things are off, something I remember as a child but had lost somewhere along the line! I’m still a work in progress, I’m now doing AIP (autoimmune protocol) because I still feel something is missing in my healing. I’ve found a few more triggers that I have to avoid but I am so looking forward to my personal healing path in this Paleo lifestyle to bring me toward healthier days, months & years! I’m happy to say my kids (all grown) are working on their research & joining the Paleo lifestyle. They are not all there yet but so much closer! Now if I could get my husband to understand that his “healthier eating” isn’t as healthy as he thinks! He’s getting closer so I’ll just have to keep working on him!
I have been able to put two autoimmune condition into remission thanks to the Paleo diet, and that has given me back the ability to enjoy life and my beautiful family! I cook paleo for the whole family quite often but it would be great to have a lot of child-friendly recipes for any occasion!
I need clean/whole food to help manage my auto-immune condition. My change in diet has made me and my family much more aware of how our food affects physical and mental health.
Alecia O'Brien says
I’m still in the midst of transitioning my family to a paleo lifestyle – primarily for my own and my daughter’s wheat and dairy intolerances. As I’ve learnt more however over time, I’ve been making more steps towards making more natural and chemical free decisions too. All up, my family of five (3 under 5!) is benefiting from a boosted immune system, more energy and I feel better about setting them on a path for better health in their adult years.
I have followed Jennifer (Predominantly Paleo) for a few years now. She has been my inspiration to go to a Paleo lifestyle and lose the weight I needed to lose and also become healthier too! I have been on a strict Paleo lifestyle for about 18 months. I’ve lost 101lbs, I’m no longer pre-diabetic, no longer have high blood pressure. I had been diagnosed with Epilepsy, but after numerous tests couldn’t find a cause. I have been seizure free for 6+ months. I love Paleo, it’s been a lifesaver for me! Jennifer has been a #1 resource, her website, FB site, cookbooks…everything, has been wonderful! I already pre bought this cookbook (I have all of hers!) But I have inspired some friends to try Paleo and turned them on to Predominantly Paleo and would love to win to be able to give them one of her books too!
joline sikora says
We tried Paleo as a family for a year, and have since transitioned to just gluten free and I’m wanting to give it another try.
Heather Brandt says
Less pain and healthier digestive systems. Helps with our kids behavior-wise, as well as health wise.
We are a grain-free and dairy-free family due to my intolerances, but it’s often hard to find things my 5 year old will eat and enjoy, so he tends to eat gluten and dairy. I notice he feels and acts better when he does! Excited to try new recipes!!
This sounds so great! I’m gf/df to reduce inflammation and one of the kids needs it, too, so the whole family is on board.
I’m excited about this giveaway and about learning more about Jennifer and Predominantly Paleo! After years of autoimmune issues, we have been mostly gluten free for a while but we just started introducing the Auto-immune paleo diet into our lives this summer. With three small children, a cookbook like this would definitely help them to more fully embrace this way of life and perhaps get them more excited about being involved in the the journey to healing!
Love learning about local Moms who are doing work like this. Thank you! Can’t wait to get my hands on this cookbook.
We’ve been some version of Paleo/grain-free or GF for the past 5 years due to Heath concerns – both in my kids and myself. Diet has been a game changer for us and helped eliminate eczema and other rashes that were stumping our docs.
Love this interview and how it crosses so many facets of her life. I’m especially excited that many of the recipes seem to be nut-free.