I recently started reading Deceptively Delicious, a cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld. Yes, that’s right, reading. It’s not just a collection of recipes that you can browse through to find something to make for dinner. It’s really a guide for developing a system for feeding healthy foods to your children. It’s centered around the notion of pureeing vegetables and fruits and mixing them into kid friendly recipes to get around that whole picky eater aggravation. I got the book from a mommy friend who successfully used it with her two daughters. Before you even get to the recipes there are about 40 pages of information about nutrition, pantry items, kitchen tools and pureeing how-to’s. I have to admit when I first heard about this book (before I became a mom) I scoffed at the idea. I certainly had no intention of hiding veggies in my children’s food. I would ensure my children would grow up liking veggies and happily eating them openly. Ah, the idealism of inexperience.
I’ve had the book for a few months now and up until today I’d flipped through it enough to realize that in order to make this work I would really need to change my M.O. of peering into our fridge and pantry around dinner time wondering what I could make. Though in many other aspects of my life I am an incessant planner, for some reason I cannot bring myself to plan meals and shopping trips. At the very most, as my husband and I push the shopping cart up and down the aisles of our grocery store, we try to think of different meals for that week. Not exactly a recipe for dinner success (pun very much intended). So, according to Seinfeld, I need to first set up my pantry with a host of useful and healthy items (think whole grain pastas, brown rice, various condiments and spices, and different canned foods) that I can call upon to make a multitude of dishes. And second, create and freeze a variety of fruit and vegetable purees to blend in with the recipes. And so, as Seinfeld writes, “the deception begins.” To return to my original issue with deceiving my kids into eating veggies, Seinfeld does advocate including a vegetable served openly and honestly with meals, to allow kids to learn to eat and appreciate veggies for what they are. As veggies are routinely offered, the assertion is that your children will eventually taste them and learn to like them. Well, we’ll find out, won’t we?
Since I’ve just started reading the book, I have obviously not created the purees or tried any of the recipes, though I did try out the theory this week. One night I made macaroni and cheese (out of a box) and mixed in some roasted sweet potato and some ground turkey, which I finely minced after sautéing. I had no doubt the meal would go down well (which it did), since sweet potato is one of the few veggies my little nugget actually eats as is. I was a little nervous about the turkey as she’s turned her nose up at it pretty much every time I’ve tried to serve it in the last few months. Hence the turkey being finely minced. Tonight, I made spaghetti with red sauce, into which I hid a puree of sautéed zucchini and pearl onion. Not only did little nugget happily chow down, but so did daddy who has stated on multiple occasions that he absolutely abhors zucchini. Double coup! So, over the next few weeks and months I will be trying out Seinfeld’s tricks and recipes and report back.