My kids are just about the least picky eaters I know. Sometimes they declare flat out that they don’t like a food, but they’ll still try it when I encourage them to. Just the other night we went to a friend’s house for dinner. She’s Taiwanese. My kids ate intestine, oysters, Peking Duck, and even piled their plates high with vegetables.
I don’t sneak vegetables into their foods. Instead, I try to make them taste good. There’s nothing like green beans pan-seared in bacon grease, sweet potatoes fried in tallow, or a squash casserole cooked up with melted cheese and diced green chiles.
But what do you do when you do have a picky eater? A child who will only eat hot dogs, pizza, mac-n-cheese and dessert?
I know of many moms who have tried to sneak vegetables into their family’s meals. They swear you can’t taste them. Some things seem quite natural, like pureeing the aromatics you might otherwise have simply diced and put into a marinara sauce. But what about hiding spinach in brownies?
That’s what two cookbooks I recently discovered are all about — how to sneak vegetables into your family’s favorite foods.
Weighing in at 272 pages and offered for a mere $12.25, The Sneaky Chef has loads of easy, kid-friendly recipes. And thankfully, the author doesn’t shy away from nutrient-dense fats like whole milk and butter. (You’d be surprised how many so-called nutrition experts advise a low-fat diet for growing children! This, when they’re growing fat-dependent brains and nervous systems.) Granted, she’s not distinguishing between the butter from grass-fed cows and regular, industrial butter, but you know enough not to be bothered by that. You’ll simply pile on the real butter and be glad she’s not asking you to use margarine! The downside, of course, is that she’s a believer in conventional nutritional wisdom. So, refined or improperly prepared grains, refined sugar, and many other unhealthy modern foods make their way into the recipes. If you want to use the recipes, you’ll definitely be adapting them.
I personally tried the Macaroni & Cheese made with hidden cauliflower and zucchini. Of course, I adapted it to use brown rice pasta (the most innocuous store bought pasta I can find) and dairy from grass-fed cows. And I added real sea salt because I didn’t find the original recipe flavorful enough. But you know what? That sauce (made by incorporating a vegetable puree into it) was creamy and tasty.
Written by Jerry Seinfeld’s wife, this book has been featured on Oprah. Because of it’s popularity, Deceptively Delicious is now down to just $6.13. The pluses to this book? It’s spiral-bound, as any good recipe book should be. It has more photos and illustrations, too. The recipes, though, aren’t nearly as smart. It mixes odd textures into foods where they shouldn’t be. The Macaroni and Cheese in this book, for example, actually tries to hide beans! They’re simply far too starchy to be “hidden” in a cream sauce. Plus, as with The Sneaky Chef, what passes for “nutritious” is just abhorrent.
Do You Sneak Vegetables?
I’m sure you’d all agree that it’s far better for your kids to learn to like real, healthy food than it is to disguise it. Many parents adopt a sneaky way of cooking while trying to get their kids to broaden their picky palates. They’ll serve tasty vegetable side dishes right alongside hidden vegetables, hoping that one day their kids will like the obvious and the hidden will no longer be necessary.
There’s another school of thought that says we really shouldn’t care about getting our kids to eat vegetables at all. After all, while they’re young and growing it’s more important to get nutrient-dense foods into them — egg yolks from pastured hens, organ meats, mollusks, butter from grass-fed cows and other healthy saturated fats, homemade bone broths, and naturally-fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurt. So, they say, offer tasty vegetable sides, but don’t worry if your kids won’t eat them.
Which school of thought do you subscribe to? How do you get your kids to try new foods?
(photo by angermann)