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Filed under Cooking with Kids, Meal Planning, Musings of a Cooking Teacher..., Nutrition and News
Tagged as children, cooking, Deceptively Delicious, eating habits, healthy, Jessica Seinfeld, kids, Meal Planning, Nutrition and News, Oprah, vegetables, what's cooking weekly
I concur. Thanks for the insightful and honest review of Jessica’s book. I think your comments are spot on; I will say not all kids will want to eat everything they help make, though I think that goes without saying. I find that quite often kids go through a few year cycle when they stick to familiar, few and even bland foods (age 2-6?). I have had great success re-introducing foods as their palates continue to evolve. What they like prior to age 2, they now like once again! Oops, bit of a tangent. Cheers to you for opening a conversation…
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There are so many reasons NOT to deceive people about what is in their food it isn’t funny. (If you wouldn’t do it to a casual dinner guest, why do it to your own children?)
Your compromise, though, I like very much!
Two questions–is the amount of hidden vegetable enough to be worthwhile/significant? Also, is it being hidden in otherwise pretty unhealthy foods?
Since I am not a nutritionist, I use my gut and a little experience to tell me about portion size. Since some of these veggies are being used as a “coating”, I am not sure if there is “enough” to be considered a full portion. However, other recipes seem to contain a full serving size. As for “healthy”… At first glance, the traditional concept of a chicken nugget (bits of filler with a little chicken) is somewhat disgusting, but hers are simply a coated piece of skinless chicken breast. I would eat them :-) She adds her purees from everything from scrambled eggs, pancakes, quesadillas to brownies! I suppose that if someone were to eat a brownie (which I love in moderation), it couldn’t hurt to add some spinach! This is where I am torn on the whole concept. Once again, my solution would be a compromise where we share the secret and let our kids be proud that they are eating something healthy inside their food.
i think your points are very valid and your suggestion to reveal the secret (after the child has eaten it) is a good one. perhaps duping your kids to eat something every once in a while isn’t a big deal, but when that becomes the norm, it can’t be good or healthy.
thanks for your review! :)
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I disagree with your stance here. My kids (I have 4) aren’t terribly picky so I’ve been blessed, but from my experience, most people grow out of their childish aversion to vegetables as they get older.
I’m not sure if it’s because of a conscious decision to eat vegetables because of their benefits, or perhaps it has something to do with our taste buds changing as we age, but it’s a pretty universal phenomenon.
I think we place too much emphasis on what kids are eating and not enough emphasis on how we treat them. Peace at the table and love and gentleness in our treatment of kids are every bit as important in terms of parenting behaviors as a cauliflower, maybe more so.
So sneak in the veggies, I say, if it’s the only way you can get your kids to eat them. And stop feeling guilty about it. Use that energy to play with the kids.
Thanks for writing Carrie. I respect what you are saying. Kids do need a lot of nurturing.
But I do have a question for you: What about my post makes you think that because I don’t want to be dishonest with my kids that I don’t treat my kids well? (“too much emphasis on what kids are eating and not enough emphasis on how we treat them”)?
I love my kids and we spend lots of quality time together, both in and out of the kitchen. We don’t have battles at the table…mostly because I respect them enough to ask for their opinions about meal planning and to invite them to help me prepare our family meals.
I don’t feel guilty about our mealtimes. In fact, I feel very proud to help not only my family to eat well, but over 100 other families as well.
Oh I wasn’t speaking of you personally in that post, and I’m sorry if it sounded like I was! I was speaking in general terms. You’re obviously a very conscientious person, as evidenced by your posts here.
I think that generally, we mom types are so quick to look for a place to criticize ourselves so we can feel guilty about something, when we would probably all be better off lowering our standards a teensy bit.
This was a great message in the book Mommy Guilt, and I agree with much of what the authors said. I have high standards personally in how I mother my kids, including how I feed them, but I think we can go too far sometimes.
I think our kids will end up being healthier overall as people if we don’t obsess so much about whether they’re eating their vegetables and know about it or if we’re “duping” them.
I hope that is a little clearer. :)
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Thanks for the review. :) I liked Jessica’s point on Oprah that she still makes veggies along with every meal and has them sitting there on the plate along with the foods that contain hidden veggies. So they would be eating healthier and they we be getting exposed dialy to the fact that a healthy meal includes veggies. If it were me I would also let them know that there were some hidden veggies in their food but I wouldn’t feel I had to do that and I would not “battle” at the table over it. I consider myself to be a “peaceful” parent….not a slacker. There are many battles in family life and this one is just that important as long as they are getting proper nutrition. When they are older there is plenty of time to discuss all the ways you made their chicken nuggets healthier than the varieties they could get elsewhere….and they will probably appreciate it more. You can teach them how to cook in the same manner so that they can continue to hide their veggies into adulthood if they so choose too.
I HATED veggies as a kid and my parents went to battle over it. I remember gagging and throwing up at the table and crying because I had to eat those nasty things. To this day I still think they handled it wrong and I am STILL not a fan of veggies to this day and I think that may have alot to do with it. My mom involved me ionthe kitechen and had me help prepare the food as well…but that did not cghnage my tatsebuds. I have some pretty bad memories about the dinner hour and how my parents made me feel bad over the veggie issue and I won’t do that to my kids.
Thanks for your comment. I agree with you completely that the majority of bad eating habits are based on the parenting that goes along with them. By insisting the children “have to” eat their vegetables, they are causing a conflict that leaves scars! In our house, we eat until we feel full. No rules. No judgments.
What kids put into their mouths is one of the only ways that they can exert their independence during childhood. We drag them all over the place with us, tell them to hurry up, make sure they are dressed (in clothes that we usually pick out and purchase)… Where do they get to make choices of their own? The dinner table is usually a place where they can make a stand. And they usually win, since they have a lot at stake. This is a learning ground.
I agree that hiding veggies in their food is an excellent way to get them to eat healthier food, so that they can think they have won their battle. We can watch them eating and know that we, too, have won… We should still have other foods on the plate, as Seinfeld said on Oprah (I haven’t seen that anywhere in the book yet, though…), so that kids can see what a balanced meal looks like.
I am sorry that you still don’t like veggies…and hope that this book will give you some good ideas so that you can eat better too :-)
What we set out to do from November last year was to learn to taste things – learn what they look like, and above all turn it into an adventure.
I honestly don’t think its about pureeing and hiding – that gets you nowhere. It is also a bit patronising to the child.
Sometimes processing and pureeing help – if its an issue with the texture of something but to do it to hide it is a bit silly.
There are no quick fixes. It takes time for families to learn to cook better, time for children to learn to overcome their pickiness and above all time to enjoy eating!
Great Big Vegetable Challenge
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I find this thread interesting. My oldest daughter just bought the book for her family – oldest being 2.
I plan on using this because I have a 9 year old former leukemia patient. He hates vegetables and fruits. When he was on chemo – I really wanted him to eat the produce because that helps to fight cancer. There was no way he would eat them. To a somewhat lesser extent this continues to this day. I will continue to offer fruits and veggies at every meal, but if I can get some into him anyway, I will.
I’ve been sneaking veggie’s into my 4 year old’s meals for a while. She won’t eat them any other way! Even if she helps me cook something in the kitchen, if there’s an ingredient she has decided she hates, she won’t even taste it. If your kids are willing to taste/try or are open minded about how things are made, great, if not, sneak the veggies in I say! And hey, if they develop a strong love of mac and cheese, hopefully it will taste funny to them without the snuck in sweet potato!
I have to compliment all of you out there who are trying so hard to get your kids to eat well in the first place! Sneaking or not, your aim is true. It’s better that you are cooking for your kids than simply opening cans, boxes and packages.
Thanks for the balanced…and sane…review
I have to say that I really disliked this book (and ranted about it on my blog like a crazy woman)
I like that you found a middle ground and I think I might send some of my readers your way to read what “the other side” is saying.
I initially had the same niggle too…the “deceptive” concept made me a bit uneasy. But after reading the book and trying some of the recipes, I love this cookbook.
I don’t look at it as a way to trick my son into eating veggies, but rather how to use them in unexpected ways for both of us. So in that view, this book is a handy resource.
I’m always looking for ways to make recipes healthier, especially those aimed at my own sweet tooth! So if I can add a half a cup of spinach puree to a blueberry oat bar, that’s great. I’m not trying to hide the spinach any more than the oatmeal, and I’m glad for the extra greens. Especially because it tastes good.
The other thing that’s been really helpful about the book is that we belong to a CSA farm and get a lot of produce each week. The idea of pureeing the veggies and freezing for later use comes in handy when you get a lot of a particular produce that week.
I also liked that Jessica makes the point of serving veggies “straight up” with each meal…she says she serves crudites & dip beforehand when her kids are hungry, and includes a veggie side dish, too (see p. 89).
Thanks for the interesting thread.
Great article! Thanks for leaving me a link to come over to read it.
I like the fact that you provide a well balanced and thoughtful post. I have read so many where the mom blogger is just so upset at the authors for sneaking, and quite frankly, it is a little jarring. Re your comment on my post about getting my son to help me cook, I do. He helps me crack eggs into the bowl when I make french toast, he helps cream cheese his bagel, he helps me put away the groceries, etc. I guess I haven’t taken it further, but that was because I didn’t think he was ready. I will try though…thanks for the suggestion!
I agree with looking at this as a win-win and not turning it into another mommy war. You come across as level-headed and not at all condescending, and that’s a big deal – especially when addressing parents who already feel hopeless and frustrated in not being able to get their kids to eat more nutritiously.
Sure, there are some kids who start out eating a variety of foods and who continue on without a blip.
But then there are my kids who started off like gangbusters, and then asserted their independence and asserted it strongly. There are plenty of ways that my husband and I guide them toward making good choices, but oftentimes, the kids don’t see the entire workings of the psychology behind the act. “You can wear coat a or coat b, which color do you like better?” I’m manipulating the choice, of course. And I’m getting them to wear a coat when they’d insist on not wearing one at all. Sometimes the straightforward explanation works; other times my daughter is a more typical 5yo and won’t listen to reason, no matter how logical I’m being. Sometimes, logical or natural consequences aren’t appropriate or could be dangerous i.e. my daughter who really does seem to have strong taste aversions to the point of really being one of those kids who will become malnourished, or get darn close.
Also, I get what Carrie is saying. I think that peace at home and at the dinner table can be the best “health food” there is for a child. The attitude I sometimes hear of “This is the rule, like it or lump it” or heavily authoritarian styles of parenting, or worst of all, using or denying food as reward or punishment is very upsetting and, I believe, potentially damaging.
And a lot of parents are trying to mend their ways, and this book can be a wonderful starting point. I’m a host site for a local Community Supported Agriculture organic farm, and it’s amazing how many people are surprised by a head of kale and have no idea what it is or what to do with it. Steaming it and pureeing it and adding it to a brownie mix or whatever might be as far as they can go with it…for now. Forget the kids; if this book can get some adults to buy a squash, then Mrs. Seinfeld is doing a great job.
I love your Call the Kids idea! My son loves helping me out in the kitchen. I haven’t read the book yet, so I can’t comment specifically on it, but I gather that Seinfeld prepares healthy foods with a boost of veggies by sneaking purees into her recipes. I don’t see a problem with that. If she offers her kiddos homemade mac ‘n cheese, it qualifies as wholesome–even without the cauliflower puree. The taste is a far cry from the boxed version. And I’m guessing she doesn’t have a recipe for healthy Cheetos or Twinkies. So I have to disagree that sneaking veggies into already nutritious foods sets kids up for failure when they are old enough to make their own choices about what to eat.
Thanks for stopping by!
I agree that we should be honest with out kids, but I also really liked the cookbook. When my son is old enough to help out in the kitchen I plan on full disclosure. I don’t think slipping some puree in a sauce or some veggies in a baked good is a new concept. I also don’t think it’s deception as long as I’m not lying about it to the kid.
Mostly I like the recipes so that I can add some nutrition to foods DH and I enjoy. This book isn’t sparking a lifestyle change, but rather another resource for some fun and healthy recipes.
Here’s my take on it: http://mamaknj.blogspot.com/2007/10/lay-off-jessica-people.html
PS I just linked back to you today! :)
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Jessica Seinfeld makes a point of pointing out that, while veggies are hidden in her children’s favorite foods, veggies in their normal state are also on their plates. She has also mentioned the fact that the purees are visible all over her kitchen as she prepares her meals. My children were excited about her recipes and begged me to make them. My son HATES veggies and most fruit. Dr. Oz has said that there is a reason for that which is medically explained. I believe you can hide veggies in your children’s food while teaching them the importance of eating their veggies. Normally, this situation improves with age.
Personally, I love the book. I dont feel guilty at all about putting veggies into the food. I am still making my food the normal way and serving it with veggies. But these are just added nutrients that you can sneak in. Why not?? More than anything, this book has given me so many ideas about how I can up the nutrition in so many foods I always cook. And I am always suprised at how fast I am going through my purees. I think its great!
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