Sunday, January 27, 2008

Eat Yer Greens

Brussel sprouts. Broccoli. Green beans. Most kids don’t like them much. But what if we hide these healthy foods in chocolate chip cookies? Jeepers, the tots will never know…

Such is the claim behind two best-selling cookbooks (one by Missy Chase Lapine, the other by Jessica Seinfeld) that sneak vegetables into everyday dishes. Raymond Sokolov of the Wall Street Journal reviewed them in Saturday’s paper.

The books contain recipes like mac-n-cheese (the box variety) with white been puree and oatmeal raisin cookies with spinach puree. The premise here is that kids will get the nutrients and vitamins from these veggies without ever fussing. But Sokolov raises a fine question—down the road, how will kids learn to like or even recognize veggies if they are masquerading in other (often processed or sweet) foods?

The best line of his article: “These women treat vegetables the way Victorian mothers treated sex, with silence.” He urges instead for culinary transparency. Real food, introduced gradually.

I agree. It’s fine if kids don’t like spinach. Tastes change and mature. Think of the foods you loved as a five-year-old. Tomato slices on pumpernickel and a mid-afternoon espresso? Probably not, unless you were a highly sophisticated little darling.

Here’s the thing: a brownie with spinach is still a brownie. It’s not something you’d be serving to your children at every meal (I hope). So when kids do have sweets, I don’t think the addition of mashed cauliflower is necessary. Throw a few Flintstones vitamins into the cake batter instead (joking).

I love veggies. I just ate a sweet potato. And now I am going to have a cinnamon cupcake. Maybe I could’ve found a way to combine the two while baking, but I didn’t bother. There’s a better way!

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