Friday, October 19, 2007

End vegetable discrimination now!

I've been reading about a book by Jerry Seinfeld's wife that's on the bestseller list. It's called Deceptively Delicious and it's about how to disguise vegetables so that your kids will eat them without fussing. Most of the method involves pureeing vegetables and adding them to things like mac & cheese and cakes. So, the kids don't see the vegetables, they eat their favorite foods, they're healthy and the parents are happy.


HS reminded me that this seems a lot like the apples disguised as french fries story. Again I cry: why must we disguise fruits and vegetables so that people will eat them? And why is the book called Deceptively Delicious? Because if vegetables are starring as themselves, people could never think a dish was delicious?

I know kids are fussier than adults, but parents are probably the biggest influence on people's eating habits, even in adulthood. Jessica Seinfeld's kids will grow up in a rarefied social strata with personal chefs and trainers likely at their disposal. However, I imagine other kids whose parents were fans of this cookbook going to college and continuing to eat mac & cheese and cupcakes, only this time there is no cauliflower puree in the cheese sauce or beet puree in the cupcakes. They might never develop the habit of eating fruits and vegetables.

So, how do we help people, especially kids, increase their fruit/veggie intake and increase the allure of the naked vegetable? Here are a few ideas:
--Buy the best quality produce that you can. The difference in taste is amazing.
--Bring kids to "pick your own" farms every year.
--Provide fruit and carrot & celery sticks as after-school snacks.
--Try to introduce soups and stir-fries as comfort foods rather than white-carb-heavy foods.

Any thoughts?


Mihl said...

I don't have kids but I totally agree with you about parents having a big influence on their children's eating habits. I know a lot of kids that like to eat "naked" vegetables.

Anonymous said...

The candy aisles in supermarkets are purposely designed so kids can reach them.
Maybe we should get grocers to set the produce aisle lower so they can reach for the bok choy instead.


sarah.lawrance said...

beet puree in cupcakes!?!? wow, it's like you read my mind!!! just today i was searching online for a way to use my 10 lb bag of locally-grown beets and came across two chocolate-beet recipes... i made a vegan version of these brownies for my roomate's b-day party tonight, but they're not sweet enough so I added some rich chocolate frosting. much better! aside from the typical carrot or zucchini cakes, i never knew you could combine vegetables with dessert!!!

Chocolate Beet Brownies

These brownies are rich, chewy and secretly nutritious!

1/2 cup butter (or 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce)
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup cooked beets or 15 oz. can beets packed in water, drained and mashed;
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup wheat germ

Melt butter and chocolate over low heat. Set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, beat eggs until light in color and foamy. Add sugar and vanilla and continue beating until well creamed. Stir in chocolate mixture, followed by applesauce and beets. Sift together flour, salt, spices and baking powder and stir into creamed mixture. Fold in wheat germ and almonds.

Turn into greased 9x13-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool before cutting into squares. 

While I had fun developing the chocolate beet recipe, it's a treat to see the expression on people's faces when I tell them what's in the recipe. - a note from the author of this recipe.

zandria said...

I've read other blog posts about this book lately, and most of them say the same thing you do -- you shouldn't have to go through so much trouble (and time!) to get kids to eat their veggies.

jd said...

Amen, sister!

I loved veggies when I was little (& still do, of course), so I really think a lot of this problem has to do with our collective obsession with convenience foods, & taking the "easy way out."

It's funny because there are tons of delicious ways to eat veggies, but they're often presented to kids in a negative way. For example, parents say: "You have to eat at least 3 bites of broccoli." That definitely makes it sound like a chore...

I think it's all about experimenting with different ways of cooking veggies & not acting as if they're less tasty than other foods. Hiding them in kids' food certainly doesn't promote healthy eating, or openness to veggies, in the future.