Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It's a Lifestyle Kind of Change

For my birthday earlier this month, Eliza and Hannah gave me Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook, Deceptively Delicious.

I'd heard of the book a while back, but never thought much more of it since, until she recently appeared on the Oprah show. I just happened to catch the show while Hubby and I were at home early one afternoon, and I mentioned that I'd like to have it. Hannah is generally happy to eat all vegetables. Eliza, on the other hand, likes broccoli and...broccoli. That's about it for the veggies. She's more of a carbs girls (noodles, bread, rice, etc.). My policy on cooking for the family is that everyone eats a little bit of everything, and 90% of the time, I cook complete, balanced meals: meat, starch, at least two veggies, one of which is green. This works for everyone except Eliza, so she's who I had in mind when I mentioned wanting to have the cookbook. My theory was that I need to get her used to the tastes of as many veggies as possible while her taste buds are still developing.*

As you may know, the premise for the book is that you puree the hell out of fruits and veggies and sneak them into food so that your kids get healthy food without a fight at the dinner table. They never taste the difference, and they get their veggies, while also developing an increasingly mature palate.

The first step, then, is the food processor, which I was able to purchase after receiving some belated birthday money. A nice little ($40) 3-cup Cuisinart Mini-Processor - perfect for my new experiments. So, this past weekend, I went out and bought beets, fresh baby spinach, squash, and carrots. First up on the recipe list: Lemon Rasberry Muffins. Starbucks used to have GREAT ones, and I never found a copycat recipe, so I had to try these. The recipe incorporated pureed beets and squash, and I have to admit that I was skeptical about both tast and texture.

To my utter delight and glee, they are AWESOME! So good in fact, I went beet happy, and Sunday morning I made Pink Pancakes by adding about 1/3 c. beet puree to my regular store-bought pancake mix. The girls loved the pink color (so girly!), and Eliza ate one and half pancakes by herself!! She literally couldn't shove them in her mouth fast enough. I just sat there, stunned yet pleased as punch with myself for taking the time to incorporate this new routine into my weekend schedule. Then, I cooked more!

Sloppy Joes with squash --- totally yummy! Brownies -- low-cal and good (but there is a tiny hint of the spinach taste). Spaghetti with pureed carrots -- you can't taste anything different! I've already used the food processor almost a dozen times, and it couldn't be easier. It takes no hands on time to cook the veggies, and it only takes two minutes to puree. After this, you bag the purees, and you're set for the week (or longer if you store some in the freezer).

I'm most surprised at how easy it was to slip this new "thing" into my Saturday afternoon. I'll probably move it to Sunday afternoons in the future, but it's so easy, so fast, and more importantly, the benefits are so worth it. Today, for example, Eliza had veggies in her breakfast, dinner, and dessert (she LOVES the brownies!)...how damn cool is that?? And all of this is on top of the veggie side dish that I still provide at dinnertime, so that she's encouraged to knowingly eat her veggies, and Hubby, Hannah, and I provide models for healthy eating.

Few things work so effectively at making me distinctly feel like I'm doing something really good for my children. This cookbook accomplished that, and it's been one of the highlights of the past few days!

*As it turns out, there's a scientific reason children don't usually like the taste of vegetables. Dr. Oz explained this on the Oprah, and he also wrote the forward for the cookbook. Knowing the science behind this phenomenon really made sense of it for me.

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