Deception at Dinner

My birthday is about a week after Christmas, so presents come fast and furious for one week on the year for me, and that's it.

I already mentioned a cookbook I got for Christmas- another came for my birthday. Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld was a gift from my sister. This was one I've heard rumblings about- it and The Sneaky Chef and their legal dispute , mostly. A blogging friend tried out some Sneaky Chef recipes with mixed results . I was ready to give it a try.

The premise of both cookbooks is making yummy, kid-friendly food healthier by including vegetable purees without affecting the flavor of the food. My husband is highly skeptical of this strategy, but says if I don't tell him about my experiments (and he really can't taste a difference), he's OK with it. So far so good.

The cookbook suggests making the purees in big batches and freezing them in smaller amounts. I made a weekend morning project of it and steamed and pureed like crazy with vegetables I had on hand. My husband's comments were "That looks  & smells really gross" since, well, green goo made from pureed broccoli isn't pretty. I froze the purees in half-cup baggies, and started scheming. As a head-start, I already have plenty of squash/pumpkin puree in my freezer, remember?

My first experiment was on myself, since I was unsure about the strategy and skeptical that the vitamin-rich additives (the vegetable puree) would actually fail to be detectable in common dishes. I was in a hurry to eat dinner Tuesday night, and I'll admit it, I made mac & cheese from the Blue Box. I skimmed the mac & cheese ideas from the cookbook and while mixing up the "cheese" sauce, I added 1/4 cup real cheddar cheese plus a couple tablespoons of squash puree. When I couldn't detect any flavor change, I added more, at least a quarter-cup, probably more. Never was I able to taste it, and I felt a little better about my otherwise-unhealthy dinner.

With that success, I was bolder last night and mixed in about a quarter cup of squash puree to the beef stew. It tinted the broth orange a bit, but, with the carrots already in the mix, it wasn't noticeable. Again, no taste was detectable. I didn't say a word to my husband, and he declared that dinner was delicious.

The Good
We're getting more nutrition in our food! We eat way-too-few vegetables, especially in the winter when there's nothing fresh coming from the garden, so the bits of extra vitamins included by mixing in vegetables to established recipes is an added bonus.

The Bad
I am really uncomfortable with the "deceptive" part of it.

The I'm-Not-Sure
The whole philosophy of Eat More Vegetables By Not Realizing You're Eating Them seems sketchy. I mean, if I want my (future theoretical) kids to grow up healthy, they need to learn to eat their veggies, and, while this definitely gets more veggies into a kid's diet, it teaches them nothing about eating said veggies. It keeping their food nutritional but doesn't aid in developing habits when they're choosing their own food.

One solution may be including purees in dishes when appropriate AND having healthy side dishes on the table- last night, we had the squash-infused beef stew with a side of absolutely-awesome roasted broccoli (recipe forthcoming). Just because there's veggies hidden in the dish doesn't mean we can't have them as a side, too! I'm not sure I'll follow many of the actual recipes in the cookbook (because, honestly, I rarely follow a recipe) but I'll probably give a couple a try, and the concept of adding vegetables purees to taste is one I'll keep experimenting with.


Josh said...

You tricked me!!!! You're a... deceiver!!!! (Wasn't that well put?)

Joanna said...

Blame your sister-in-law, she got me the cookbook :-P

The deceptive Sister said...

DRAMATIC.... you dont have to deceive the kids . let them know there are veggies in the meal and then they will love the taste and love veggies in turn.

Glad you are getting some use out of it!!!

Scribbit said...

Good point--I hadn't thought of the down site to the title. Though I had heard of the plagiarism issue.

Jes said...

i am the youngest of five, all of us are great eaters, we're not really that picky (except my vegetarian sister). We were always made to eat everything on our plate when we were older. I assumed that's why. Lately my mom confessed some of the things she mixed in our food. even some of the meats she had us eat telling us it was chicken or beef when in fact it was rabbit, bear... who knows what else really.

I have a picky husband and two picky kids, unless I hide things in the food they wont eat them. I also was feeling guilty about "lying" to my husband, so after he ate the food I asked him if he liked it, he said yes, I told him what was in it. He didn't care at all! So I think I might get one of these cook books and try that approach with everything. As far as the kids go, Lexi doesn't care at all, i think it will matter more when they are a little older. We'll see.