Reviewed by Jen Kulman

A few months ago, I had a Twinkie for the first time in about ten years. I was really looking forward to tasting it, but in ended up being a huge disappointment. The cake was slightly greasy and the filling was thick rather than fluffy – not at all the treat that I remembered from my childhood. It wouldn’t surprise me if Lara Ferroni had a similar experience, giving her the inspiration for this book. Real Snacks: Make Your Favorite Childhood Treats Without All the Junk is all about making those treats that you so fondly remember in ways that use more nutritional ingredients. The end result is much better tasting snacks and a lot less guilt.

The first half of the book, Real Sweet, contains snack cakes, cookies, frozen treats, and confections. Real Salty follows up with crackers, chips, dips, and other. I like how she covers all the important junk food groups, and I was surprised by how many different snacks she tackled. Of course, Twinkies and Hostess cupcakes make the cut, but she also offers eight cracker recipes, seven cookie recipes (including Thin Mints!), and a few very nice syrups and sauces. If desired, all recipes include vegan and gluten-free options as well.

Not every recipe has a photo, but most do, and I really enjoyed comparing the finished versions to the store bought products. The Mini Cake Doughnuts look almost exactly like powdered doughnuts, but the Toaster Tarts look far superior to Pop-Tarts, and the Cereal Bars look so much healthier than granola bars found at the grocery store. I don’t ordinarily love Fig Newtowns, but her Figgy Newtons are too attractive to pass up. Most appealing are the Moon Pies – homemade Graham Crackers topped with fresh Marshmallow Creme, drizzled with Caramel Sauce and dipped in chocolate.

I love that this book provides recipes for ingredients that I would never have realized could be made at home. Plenty of appetizer recipes call for crescent rolls, but I feel guilty buying canned dough. What a great idea to make your own Hot Pockets, particularly to freeze for later, and I will most definitely be testing her recipes for both powdered sugar and condensed milk. This book is nothing short of fascinating and incredibly useful for those of us who who are trying to move away from convenience foods.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and six year old son. She writes reviews of children’s books on her blog, FIRR-Kids and loves filling her own shelves with cookbooks.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Sasquatch Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.