Reviews & Feedback - Mila's Meals
'This book is a game changer!', 'A tome of a book', 'Thoroughly well research', 'Painstaking attention to detail', 'A call to action'
Mila's Meals: The Beginning & The Basics feedback, reviews, Game changer, vital book, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, intolerances, food intolerances, toddler food, kids food, cookbook, recipe book, real food, free from food
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Reviews & Feedback

Reviews of Mila's Meals: The Beginning & The Basics




“This massive book is a mother-daughter team work. It shares much nutrition information and tips, plus one hundred recipes. The photography is delightful. This is an excellent book.”


Edouard Cointreau, President of the Jury – Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

I was fortunate enough to have the book reviewed by two well respected doctors and a mom before it went to print. There were “long” (as Mila would say) tears of joy when I received these reviews! Besides my editor – no-one had seen what I had been up to for three years. It was such a relief to know that there was value in the book, and that it was utter conviction that had been pushing me – not complete foolishness.

Here’s what they had to say:

“At last, a wonderfully creative and thoroughly well researched work of immensely helpful and beneficial guidance, for us as parents!

Food and health are inseparable. In today’s information age nutritional concepts can be all too confusing, especially when the information is focused on ‘what’ to eat, rather than exploring and understanding the ‘why’.

This book introduces important and comprehensible ‘why’s’ of applying food as your medicine, while at the same time, offering truly sumptuous and easy to follow recipes to give our little genetic investments vibrant health and a greater connection to nature, of which we are all an integral part.

Toward healing, awareness and peace! Thank you Catherine.”

Dr Jon Morley (MBChB)

“Catherine has managed to fit a veritable encyclopedia worth of knowledge and wisdom into this beautiful book.

As a mother, I will value this resource for referring to time and again when preparing food for my family.  I will turn to it when deciding on the best choices, in terms of personal and environmental health, while shopping and preparing delicious, healthy meals for my loved ones.

Painstaking attention to detail is paid to all things food and health related that we may all have heard of or read about, but are unsure of how to integrate into our daily lives.

The creative and wholesome recipe ideas will continually be an inspiration in my kitchen, and yours, for years to come!”

Esmé Morley (MoM)

“This well-researched and masterfully created book is a true gift to aware parents who want to give their children the best start to life.”

Dr Hanna Grotepass (MBChB), Homeopath, Synchronization Harmonics practitioner

“Not only does it contain over 100 recipes free from gluten, dairy and refined sugar for baby’s first year, it is also an invaluable reference guide to what our food contains. From natural and/organic to processed, genetically modified, factory farmed etc. and the possible and scientifically proven effects the consumption of these foods may have on yourself and especially your children. It is a call to action for every parent to be conscious of what they are feeding their little ones, providing a guideline to achieve this as effectively and effortlessly as possible. If you are a new Mama or know anyone who is; if your child has food allergies or is sensitive to gluten, sugar and/dairy; if you plan to raise your children on a ‘free from’ diet or if you would simply like to nutritionally educate yourself then this is the book for you.”

Alix Verrips, Chef, Journalist and Editor











“Dear Catherine,

Thank you so much for your lovely email of 14 July and for giving me a copy of your marvelous book, Mila’s Meals: The Beginning and The Basics.  I really appreciate your kind words and want to compliment you on the fabulous book that you have written.  I think it takes great courage to self-publish and I hope that the book will be a great success.


Please note that I have promoted your book at The Sugar Free Symposium we had in September at the Waterfront in Cape Town.  I included it as one of the many books written by Capetonians on the changing diet that we are promoting.


With very warmest regards and sincere best wishes
Yours sincerely, Tim Noakes”


From Prof. Tim Noakes (@ProfTimNoakes) – scientist & professor of Exercise Science & Sports Medicine, founder of The Noakes Foundation, co-author of The Real Meal Revolution.

Recent Reviews


Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers’ Favorite


Food is a basic essential of life. But when food becomes toxic to the body, then it is time to re-evaluate what is in the food. Even so-called fresh produce can be laced with pesticides and GMOs, which can be, and is, terribly toxic to a lot of people, especially small children who are just beginning to grow and develop. With the increasing use of pesticides and the preference by governments, farmers, food manufacturers and grocers to promote GMO foods, learning to eat wisely and safely is a quagmire of obstacles and unknown variables.


What’s needed? A useful, informative guide to help young mothers feed their children healthy food alternatives, food that not only is safe for the child, but looks good and tastes delicious. That’s where this book comes in handy. Catherine Barnhoorn had to heal herself from many autoimmune conditions and, when her newborn, Mila, started showing unusual and concerning symptoms, this young mother started researching and implementing a healthier, safer diet program for both herself and her new baby. As she researched and developed hundreds of recipes, she started to develop an idea of an extensive health guide that would not only explain the perils we now face with trying to eat healthily, but also the many options available to improve our eating habits.


The result? Her 500-page book, Mila’s Meals: The Beginning and the Basics. This is a must study, must enjoy, healthy eating alternative not only for feeding children, but also for feeding ourselves as adults. Everything you could possibly ask about the difficult food industry is answered in this book. Beginning with her own story, Catherine leads the reader through her experiences and sets us up with a course of action: first and foremost, read the labels and be aware of what you are eating. She complements her discussions with concise charts of the good and the bad in different food groups. She lays out the research compiled on the subject of food intolerances and allergies, and she provides a great resource of recipes, from snacks to main course meals to yummy desserts, and all that you could possibly want in between. The glossary is succinct and very thorough and useful. This is a must have guide for all young mothers and for anyone who wants to eat healthily and stay healthy. Well done! A great resource. Love the photos of Mila.



Reviewed By Nompumelelo Mqwebu, Head Chef & Food Blogger at Africa Meets Europe Cuisine & Food Writer: The Mercury Newspapers


Mila’s Meals – where passion will take you as a parent. The book was a hit with listeners on Power FM, the phone lines were buzzing when I spoke of Mila’s Meal recipes on a food slot, a clear indication that many parents out there are looking for answers. With so many grey and dark areas in food and nutrition these days due to the use of GMOs, pesticides and other. Parents want to know what to feed their precious ones. Catherine’s book is well researched but very practical, which is key for ordinary cooks and newbie foodies out there. Plentiful parents find themselves raising a child with food intolerances. So the solutions of sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free are very handy. The book also challenges chefs out there to do more than just toss this and that in the pan but to know where the food comes from and more importantly what’s in the food. Menu design must have these requirements catered for if it is indeed to feed with a conscience.





Reviewed By Dr. Sally Stone, Author of Golden Words: The A-to-Z Toolkit for Changing Your Life One Word at a Time


This book is a detailed compendium of all things nutritious and nourishing. A veritable Bible of whole foods, it has everything you’ll ever need to understand what and what not to feed your baby—as well as yourself. The best parts of the book debunk the traditional myths of what to feed your child then re-educate with solid science as to what to do differently—including a glossary of nutrients and many resources teaching you what to avoid. The how includes over 100 creative and delicious-looking recipes made with healthy whole foods and free from dairy-gluten-sugar as well as strategies for introducing your child to the world of “other people’s foods.” Catherine Barnhoorn gives you in-depth tools for raising your baby to be truly healthy, as opposed to the compromised type of health we’ve all come to expect on the average diet. You might just want to be reincarnated as her child!





Reviewed By Janet for The Green Family Guide



When I first got my hands on a copy of this book, I must own I did have some expectations. I was looking forward to receiving it, as I had heard good things about it, and was excited to be introduced to a new recipe book with some inspiring ideas in it for me and my daughter. Well I was completely blown away from the moment I opened the parcel (popped corn replaced yucky unrecyclable polystyrene chips in the packaging!) and held this fat tome in my hands. It has many more pages than I expected, and the reason for this is that Mila’s Meals is an incredibly thoroughly and well researched book about nutrition in children and most especially starting FROM THE BEGININING with a diet that is nutritious and free from all the rubbish that gets put into our food today. Much of this rubbish is well hidden and that’s where Mila’s Meals really shines. This book is an education presented in a beautiful, readable, and FUN way!


The author Catherine Barnhoorn is Mom to a four year old daughter, and Catherine’s journey has been guided largely by the blessing of Mila. Their story is briefly told as an introduction to the book, which explains just how important and personal the book is to Catherine, and how much it comes from the heart. I love the original chapters into which the book has been broken:


UNLEARN: an interesting and informative chapter which presents facts regarding many common ideas surrounding the introduction of solid foods for baby. Catherine addresses some well-known concepts regarding first foods, and most importantly offers some alternative ways of looking at these ideas. This is followed by a chapter on ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS. It’s set out in table form which is convenient for quick and easy reference. There are very clearly set out guidelines as to what foods can be introduced when.


FEEDING WITH AWARENESS looks at food allergies vs food intolerances, and ways in which to address these. It also looks at the myriad of toxins which are present in some of the foods we eat, plastics that we use, cosmetics we think are harmless. A table is included here detailing the differences between whole foods as opposed to refined and processed foods – I found this very clearly explained and enlightening. There is then a section on additives in which these nasties and some not so nasties are well illuminated; this is important information that every parent needs to know. The pros and cons of raw vs cooked foods is also touched upon.


I love the ‘rainbow nutrition’ concept – eating foods which represent all the different colours of the rainbow will ensure that you get all the necessary nutrients! Fun, and kids love this! This chapter goes on to introduce anti nutrients and how we can combat them… READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE.




I was fortunate to have Rachel Jesson (health food specialist, sports scientist and co-author of Wholesome Nutrition For You) attend my book launch in Johannesburg. She wrote the following review after the event:


“It’s not often that you have the luxury of stumbling upon a wholesome, nourishing cookbook for ‘littlies’, that covers everything from weaning to toddler-hood. Perhaps if you’ve been hanging around all the right places most of the time, a little surprise like this ends up on your lap that leaves a delightful sparkle in your eyes.

Having read this well researched book from cover to cover, I can honestly say that the author Catherine Barnhoorn has done a truly terrific job. She has comprehensively busted infant food myths and discussed in detail what nutrients are essential to your baby’s health. Charts have been supplied to guide you through when to introduce particular foods that are age appropriate, and she has placed a strong emphasis on babies avoiding grains until after the age of 1 year due to the lack of the enzyme amalyse, which is responsible for aiding the digestion of these grains.

Pesticides, toxins, plastics, heavy metals, parabens and all the ‘toxic stuff’ have been brought to our attention and an urgent call, like we have rallied in our book (Wholesome Nutrition), for whole nourishing foods has been made. She looks at the good, the bad and the ugly when comparing whole, refined and processed foods. May this be an eye opener for the Mum who chooses convenience over her conscience.

She has further enlightened us on the importance of sourcing pasteur reared meats and dairy and why avoiding cheap, hormone filled meats is essential to good health. We’re cheered on further to source organic or naturally-grown fresh produce and steer clear of the negative experimental side effects of GMO foods.

With so many littlies out there with constipation, runny noses and ADHD, she has explained the importance of staying clear of gluten, dairy and sugar and supplied alternatives, which include delightful recipe suggestions. All the fun in eating is still there, promise!

Then she has a good section on recipes, beginning from six months of age, right through to toddler-hood. She has creatively found ways to disguise vegetables in foods that are really quite tasty. Her veggie bites are a big hit with my toddler. These are loaded with lentils, sweet potato, celery and butternut! He completely devours them and does a happy dance when he gets them for a snack at play school. Even I enjoy them as a snack on the run. There are many recipes in there that adults will drool over – how about a raw chocolate mousse made with avocado? Absolutely delish! It really does taste like chocolate and not avocado!

I love the fact that she has included the traditional fermenting of foods and supplies easy recipes, where the fermenting takes the longest rather than the food preparation! These foods are cost-effective probiotics that we and our kids should be consuming every day to keep well and healthy. Another special food in there is the long lost broths and stocks so nourishing and healing to our gut health….

Read the full review on her website: The Nutritional Institute.

“Hi Catherine,

Your book arrived yesterday and I am utterly blown away.

So your book arrived, I opened it and was astounded and so excited I bounced off my chair with a shriek!

This book is a vital one.

I must admit I haven’t brought cook books or ‘nutritional related books’ for too long now as I am bored to tears of them and haven’t found anything new or inspirational. Add that our understanding of nutrition has moved on and continues to so swiftly, too many are still full of old school dogma and I’ve been waiting for a revival.

This book ticks all those boxes and I think it has x factor.

The size works so beautifully – you feel like you’re holding something valuable, from the first flick through you’re drawn in. The photographs are incredible and the layout is so easy to read.

It makes you feel 2 things on first impression 1) that you want to go sit in a corner alone somewhere and be alone with it and soak in the information and 2) that you want to run into the kitchen to delightfully make something healthy.

The book feels friendly and accessible. I think it invites Mum’s in, in such a light invitation that doesn’t make them think they’re about to read about negative things or be told everything they are doing is wrong.

Rather it communicates that they are a part of reading about a joyous journey that they feel is exciting and accessible.

The information is so well laid out and I love that people can skip to parts and pages for easy reference.

This book is a game changer, it has come at just the right time and I am honored that you sent it to me, thank you so very much.

This has been a breath of fresh air – thank you once again.

This book is enchanting:) ”


Debbie Logan – journalist, real food activist spearheading the Jozi Real Food (R)evolution & owner of The Organic Natural and Whole Food Emporium (Johannesburg), @DebbieVLogan


“Really really Great Book by Catherine Barnhoorn. Highly recommended Mila’s Meals – The Beginning & The Basics.


Such a brilliantly conceived, carefully planned, beautifully photographed, thoughtful, forward thinking book…
I can’t praise your book enough. Hooked from your introduction where you make the connection between endometriosis & Candida…
Your book hasn’t left my reading table since I bought it on Friday. It has tapped very effectively into the future of eating.”


Yemisi Aribisala (@yemisiAA) – Author of Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds

“I certainly wish my mother had this book when I was a baby, spending my first year of life in the hospital due to food allergies! So many newborns suffer for sensitivities and it is an area that needs attention! This books does just that and provides families with easy recipes for any infant, providing healthy options that are easily available in any home! This is a “go-to” resource for any new mother! A must have for sure!”


Shelley Ugyan,  integrative health counsellor, problematic eating specialist & author of Food Freedom: Breaking Free from Problematic Eating

“This is a wonderful book! It has over 100 recipes and photos for each one! She addresses the affects that food can have on your children and the importance of maintaining gut health…so very important! So much great info and all of it is do-able!! Parents really need to read this book.”


Tara Gesling, Certified Integrative Nutrion Health Coach and author of The 180 Degree Wellness Revolution

“Catherine shares her pre pregnancy health challenged journey through the birth of her daughter. Motivated by her babies health challenges and gastro intestinal symptoms she embarks on journey of research and discovery. Catherine guides the reader to take an active role in educating yourself on the foods you choose for your child. There are invaluable chapters on whole foods nutrition, avoiding food additives, rainbow nutrition, techniques on proper food preparation that help with absorption & many delicious recipes. This is a resource book that I will recommend to families with newborns, one that you will refer to over and over again. Thank you Catherine, I wish I had this resource when I was a new mom.”


Cathy Vogt, certified health coach, professional chef and author of Cultivating Joy in the Kitchen.

“This is a delightful and well-informed feast of a book that is especially written for children that suffer with food intolerances. Although my son Cassian is able to eat everything, I absolutely devour recipes that are free of the usual culprits like dairy, sugar and gluten. Catherine, the author, is especially mindful of gut health, too. The book comes with some great advice on eating for the soul”


Robyn Smith – Founder & Owner of

“This book will shed light on how you look at your child’s moods, foods, toxic exposures, colic, constipation, ear infections, runny nose, asthma and so much more. When we know the reason why our kids are not feeling well, it’s so much easier to find solutions. With all the things we have to do as a parent, we forget to teach our children how important self care is as they grow. Well baby makes a well adult!

Plus, I found the conversation between Catherine and Mila so heartwarming. Thank you Catherine for sharing your love, truth and your knowledge. New mothers need this book!”


Connie Tomlyn

“This book has changed my life, there are no other words for it! I want to say a massive CONGRATULATIONS to one of our very own customers, Catherine Barnhoorn on this amazing accomplishment. This book is a journey of information and recipes to help you with a Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free diet or a “Free-From Diet” Johannes and I always want to eat this way but sometimes get stuck with the busy-ness of life, so I highly recommend it! When Catherine told me that she was doing a book (and another customer told me she was helping with the editing!!) I was intrigued to see what it would be like, when I got my copy just before Christmas my eyes fell out of my head, this book is not only beautiful, and well presented with amazing photography but the information that is packed into here is just amazing. I never knew what all the different “E-Numbers” meant, I never knew that one was colour one was something else, and now I do, when we got to this page in the book Johannes ran to the fridge to see what we had with an E-Number and then told me exactly what was in it! I also find the recipes to be so easy and quick, something that this lifestyle doesn’t normally lend itself too. Please support Catherine as she truly deserves it, this book is well worth every penny.”


Shelley Viljoen, Owner Farm Fresh Direct

“I could not wait to get my hands on this book, and I have not been disappointed, it is amazing! Wow, such heart and soul and not to mention knowledge and must have information are within these pages. As a mother raising three young sons I have been inspired to continue on my journey to health. I will certainly highly recommend to others.”


Amazon Customer

“This is a wonderful book to start with if you don’t know anything about whole foods, labels on food, buying all the correct ingredients and helping to change your way of eating more healthy. Thank you Catherine for putting it all together in one book. I wish this was available 10 yrs ago when I started this journey when my husband was diagnosed with cancer.”


Tassia van Der Linde

“This book is a phenomenal guide and REFERENCE on clean eating for your little one… and actually for the whole family! It even guides on boosting breast milk supply! Enjoyed reading it cover to cover, and so thrilled to own it as a reference book.”


Amazon Customer



“Hi Catherine !

I am a friend of Vivienne’s and was lucky enough to stumble upon your book. I devoured it and bought 3 ! Well done… it is fantastic. I no longer have to explain things to my Mom in law as she has her own copy now and can understand my ” language.”

I have been struggling with kids’ dietary and gut issues for 6 years now (I have 3 with gut issues) and bottom line is: heal the gut and the rest will follow. Easier said than done though.

Then of course maintenance and avoidance etc. What a journey it has been and still is. You have compacted what I have been researching and “pinning” for a long time into one  beautiful book ! And I can find all the ingredients here. Way ahead of your time in SA terms and that excites me…people can finally educate themselves (especially love all the info bits regarding additives etc), as most of our general health professionals fail us.”

Ansie, South Africa


“Hi Catherine,

Even though I don’t have any children, your book has really changed my life. You have made me so aware of what I’m eating and the products I use on my body and my entire being is rejoicing in using all natural products and eating good healthy food. 
I wish that all hospitals would give your book to expectant mothers because everything you have said makes so much sense. Thank you for helping me achieve a new and healthy self.”


True Story



I went to my obstetrician to deliver a copy of Mila’s Meals as a thank you gift for masterfully guiding me through a challenging pregnancy and a magical birth. As I sat waiting for her, I left my book on the chair next to me. Another lady walked in, grabed the book and exclaimed (loudly) “Oh I love this book!” She then looked up at me and asked “Do you know this book?”. With a ridiculously huge smile painted on my face, I reply ”Yes… I… Ah… wrote it!”



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