Courtesy Fair Winds Press
Having worked as a nutritionist for close to 20 years, Tina Ruggiero became the go-to resource for her 17 pregnant girlfriends on what to eat.
And when her friends gave birth, the questions kept coming in.
“Everybody was emailing, texting, calling me at all hours of the day and night, about what to eat and what to do,” she tells PEOPLE. “I thought, ‘If I could write a book, and answer all of their questions, I would.'”
Thus spawned The Best Homemade Baby Food on the Planet, which features 216 recipes that can be prepared in 10 minutes or less, and passed the taste test of Ruggiero’s many friends’ tots.
“This is the book you can use with your little one during the first year of his life to shape his palate,” she says. “So he grows up loving and enjoying wholesome, natural, nutritious foods.”
In coming up with her recipes, Ruggiero, a mom of two, considered what a child would be capable of eating at different stages of development, and crafted meals that parents can easily prepare from all-natural ingredients for their children throughout infancy and toddlerhood.
“Every parent was amazed at what their baby would eat, from pureed Brussels sprouts to some of the more gourmet things, like the creamy turkey and spinach,” she says. “This is how the book influences an adult life. Parents learn to cook the basics. Then they start to mix ingredients and get creative. And then they begin to understand how easy it is to cook for yourself and your family.”
The book is already winning raves from celebrity fans like Zookeeper star Kevin James, who welcomed his third child earlier this year.
“He wrote a note to me, and he said, ‘We are so impressed with the wholesomeness of the recipes, the nutritional information, and the clarity of the recipes,'” Ruggiero says.
“I’m so psyched because they can set a precedent for the rest of the country,” she adds, “and maybe moms will be inspired and follow in their footsteps.”
Noting that the recipes in her book can be adapted for adults as well, Ruggiero, who counts the rice pudding and the itsy-bitsy apricot chicken with couscous as her favorite dishes, considers the book, “a staple for everyone’s shelf.”
“I think everyone can find something in here to make their own,” she says. “The book is life-changing. It ensures health and wellness for your child forever.”
– Kiran Hefa