Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Sneaky Chef Part Two

Not everyone agrees that The Sneaky Chef works or that it is anywhere near a good thing. Gosh, I didn't agree with it at one time.

I did everything right. Everything the experts, even Dr. Phil, says you should do in developing good eating habits. And it worked wonderfully with five out of my seven kids. It worked somewhat with one of them and not at all with the last.

Mr. Super Picky Eater is six-years old and a tough nut to crack. I'm not a short order cook and so if he doesn't eat what I make then he doesn't eat all. He chooses not to eat at all. He just isn't that interested in eating period. Even with foods he likes, he doesn't eat much.

If he doesn't like something, well, let's just say that he has an overactive gag reaction. And that's not appetizing to anyone.

Rob and I have incredibly healthy eating habits ourselves, so we're modeling correct behavior. We rarely eat fast food or junk food. I offer foods multiple times, patiently. I breastfed forever and introduced good food from the beginning. I offer a wide variety. None of it worked with this one child. Part of the problem I think is that textures bother him in addition to the taste and color. Yes, I know, it's probably in his head. But the kid has got to eat. He's on the small side and I'm concerned. The doctor only recommends what I've already done. That and a multi-vitamin.

So, The Sneaky Chef is a final option for me. No, I'm not going to make chocolate chip cookies for him everyday because it has bean puree in it. But, if I'm making cookies for the family anyway, why not add something healthy to it. Especially if it makes the food taste as good if not better (as with the lasagna and mac 'n cheese).

I'll still have salads, fruits, and vegetables for dinner. But when the menu calls for a dish that hides the purees well, I'm going to add it. Just as I substitute whole wheat flour in bread recipes, brown rice in casseroles, and applesauce in brownies.

Tonight was taco night. I do a whole taco bar -- ground sirloin, black beans, colby/jack cheese, avocados, brown rice, lettuce, sweet peppers, homemade salsa, taco shells, and tortillas. It's a feast and it's one meal Mr. Super Picky Eater looks forward too. He'll eat a tortilla with meat, cheese, and sour cream.

The Sneaky Chef has a recipe for tacos that calls for purple puree (blueberries and spinach) mixed in with the taco meat. Now, this one was a challenge for me. I normally just brown the meat and season it with cumin, garlic, sea salt, and pepper. To hide the purple puree, I would have to add tomato paste.

I served it reluctantly, worried the kids would reject it because it was so different. And it wasn't a pretty color. Not red as one would expect from taco meat but brown. The kids all commented on the color but they tried it without me having to coax them (probably because I do offer such a wide variety of foods to them). The reviews were mixed from, "It's sooooo good!" to "It's not too bad." Mr. Super Picky Eater was in the "It's soooooo good" camp so I considered it a resounding success.

Do I like being sneaky? No. Not at all. But Rob and the older kids all know what I'm doing. The littles are off playing while I'm cooking so they don't notice what's going on and I'm not going to go out of my way to tell them. Once Mr. Super Picky Eater is a little older and has been eating this way for a while, I'll casually mention to him that his favorite dishes are filled with yumcious vegetables and fruits. It's my hope he'll then be more willing to try them on his own at that time.

1 comment:

Alice said...

The recipes in Deceptively Delicious, a similar book, aren't that great but the author has an interesting quote:

Seinfeld: "My daughter is almost seven and she not only can read, she's fully aware that her mother cooks with vegetables all the time. Two years ago, she was a picky four-year-old who thought she hated vegetables. But once she was converted and started seeing those purees going into the desserts she loves, she started to ignore the fact that they were going into the rest of her foods as well. Now it's the only kind of cooking she knows. So, to anyone with young children--start cooking Deceptively Delicious food when they are young! It's much easier than trying to change habits later on."