Shhh…I’m cheating in the kitchen. That’s right…cheating. And I don’t mean cheating as in boxed meals. I’m sneaking in all kinds of goodies to boost the nutritional value of each meal…and everyone is LOVING it!
Yesterday was sweet potato and carrot puree in our spaghetti sauce. Today was fortified french toast (fortified with sweet potato and carrot puree). Tonight? Oven fried fish sticks with hidden cauliflower and zucchini.
My weapon of sneakiness? The Sneaky Chef, of course. Missy Chase Lapine has done a great job in this book, arming parents of picky eaters with an assortment of ideas on how to sneak in some of the fruits, veggies and whole grains that kids find so hard to swallow.
We eat relatively healthy to begin with and Joseph is and always has been an excellent eater. He eats whatever is served, down to the last crumb. I’ve never felt a need to be sneaky or to change our menu. I know Joseph has been filling his body with the nutrients a growing child needs. But William, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. He hates texture. He hates vegetables. It’s nothing I did or didn’t do. It’s nothing I’m serving or not serving. It’s him. It’s his picky little palate. He just doesn’t like to eat much and the things he does eat are not well-balanced.
I know some of the basic rules for sneaking nutrients in. For example, I know that avocado and spinach can be added to smoothies because they don’t change the flavor (just the color, so be sure to add them to dark colored smoothies like blueberry or chocolate), but really I can’t feed William a smoothie for every meal. I needed another way to be sneaky, so enter the Sneaky Chef. I simply puree an assortment of veggies and fruits (Missy’s make-ahead recipes) and then add them into the foods that we’re already eating. This is nothing new. Moms and grandmas have been doing this for centuries, I’m sure. But Missy’s taken it to a new level by constructing some delicious recipes from breakfast “ice-cream” to mac n cheese to chocolate cupcakes.
I know there are critics out there who say sneaking fruits and veggies and whole grains into other foods doesn’t teach children to appreciate the foods in their own natural state and that we’re actually encouraging picky eating behavior. I’d venture to say those critics never had a picky eater to feed. I’m more concerned with the nutritional value of a meal than whether my child will knowingly eat an array of vegetables. It’s not as if I’m disguising the goodies in junk food. The purees are being added to already healthy food…they’re just increasing the nutritional content.
Daxson asked me this morning if I feel deceptive? Deceptive? Yeah, maybe, but something to feel guilty about? No way! The food is delicious; we’re all getting an extra boost of nutrition; and I can rest easy knowing that the little bit that William actually consumes is packed full of nutrients that his little body needs.