Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Sneaky Chef

When I was in the US, I bought a cookbook called The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals.

It’s a good book for any parent who wishes they could get more vegetables and whole grains into their children’s diet without begging or pleading and without spending hours on healthy meals only to have them rejected for “looking yucky.” The main strategy of the book is to cook up make-ahead healthy purees that can be covertly added to a variety of recipes. The purees are virtually undetectable and offer a concentrated dose of nutrients in a small portion. The author offers a selection of traditional kid friendly recipes that just happen to deliver all sorts of goodies under the radar.

I decided to get started by cooking up three big batches of different hidden veggie purees on three separate days and freezing each one into small portions. The results were so pretty that I couldn’t help photographing them!

Broccoli, spinach and baby peas make an incredibly nutritious puree and anything this color has to be good for you! I’ve snuck this one into pasta sauces and burrito filling.


Sweet potatoes and carrots make up this vibrantly colored orange puree. Turns out there’s no need to be sneaky with this one though. Riker ate spoonful after spoonful of the puree straight from the blender! I’ve used it in soups, pasta sauces, curries and muffins.

Cauliflower and zucchini went into this white puree which should be really versatile. It can go into macaroni and cheese, soups and sauces and I’ve even added it to muffins and spread it under the cheese in a quesadilla.

If all that's not good enough, I've discovered a really useful additional benefit of the frozen cubes. I always try to plate the kid's food before ours so that it has a chance to cool off, but by adding one of the frozen cubes to a bowl of hot food, I not only cool the food to an edible temperature instantly, I add a dose of veggies as well. Awesome.  

My kids eat a pretty wide variety of foods, but with a busy schedule it's all too easy to overdo the cereals, breads and pastas. Even though I try to feed them well, I think I can always do better to offer more fruits and vegetables. With a freezer full of rainbow colored purees, I’m now feeling confident that I can do that with almost no extra effort at mealtime. Of course, I’ll continue to offer vegetables in their more recognizable form, but considering neither of my kids will readily gobble up broccoli at the moment, I’m feeling incredibly pleased that they’re getting the benefits anyway. Sneaky? Sure. Gratifying? Absolutely.

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