"Mom! This is the best lasagne ever!" That's one of the nicest things a mom can hear just after, "Mom! I love this macaroni and cheese! It's totally the best!"
I used to think I was a brilliant mother. My children ate healthy food and never complained. It surely must have been my superior mothering skills. And then came my fourth child, Mr. Picky Eater. He would go to great extremes to avoid eating anything other than pizza, pbj, and macaroni & cheese. I would find food hidden in the heating vent, under the legs of the dinner table, and inside pockets. Today, at nearly 13 he no longer hides food and even eats green food now and then.
Then came my seventh child. Mr. Extreme Picky Eater. He's six-years old, stubborn as all get out (wonder where he gets that from), and doesn't like to eat anything that even sniffs of healthy.
Enter The Sneaky Chef by Missy Shase Lapine. Have you heard about this book? It's an old idea amongst mothers -- hide healthy food in cherished foods. My mother used to put carrot puree in chocolate cakes when I was a little. Though this is not an idea I first welcomed. I want my kids to make healthy choices when they get older and I'm not sure if hiding their carrots in chocolate cake is the way to do it.
However, Mr. Extreme Picky Eater has pushed his mother her wits' end. I borrowed The Sneaky Chef from the library. I'm in love. I ended up ordering it from amazon.com because it's one I need to have on hand.
Last night I made cheese lasagne. I substituted part of the ricotta with mashed tofu. I also added orange puree to the tomato sauce. The orange puree is made by boiling carrots and sweet potatoes until soft and then pureed with a little water in the blender.
The kids loved it! They raved about it! Mr. Picky Eater and his brother Mr. Extreme Picky Eater raved about it more than anyone else. They were absolutely pleased I didn't put in chopped spinach as I usually do. It was tasty, no green, and yumcious!
I used only half of the orange puree, so today I put the remainder into our boxed macaroni & cheese. Again -- they raved about it! They exclaimed that it was totally the best ever. It gave the mac 'n cheese a sweet bite to it.
I'm hooked. As my picky eaters get older I'll let them in on my tricks. But for now, shhhh!