Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Deceptive and Delicious

Do you remember 2 or 3 years ago when a couple of recipe books came out that were based on pureeing vegetable and sneaking them into food to trick your children into eating their vegetables? Yeah, it was big news for about a week. I never bought it because a) Who buys hard copy cookbooks anymore when you have Google? b) I think it is a terrible idea to replace having your child eat actual vegetables with sneaky trickery. I think you are doing them an injustice whereas they will never 'come around' to liking vegetables which we all do at some point in life.

With that said, I also think there is a lot to say for adding puree to foods. I have actually done this for many years since I started making baby food. I would have a ton of pureed food in the fridge, so I would throw it in recipes as I made it. Like putting some sweet potato puree into your pancake mix. Or any fruit purees into yogurt and a little milk to make a smoothie. It doesn't hurt to add a few extra nutrients, right?

And then I saw Deceptively Delicious on clearance for $3 or $4 and thought, "Why not?" I am trying hard to cook healthy right now and getting ideas to supplement our meals with low calorie options is welcome.

The first recipe I opened the book to was a Meatball Soup which looked pretty good.
Here is my altered recipe:

3 oz. bow tie pasta shapes (you can buy whole wheat for extra nutrition)
Cooking spray
1 T. Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (28oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, with juice
(you can use any kind of canned tomato, they all work)
1/4 c. carrot puree
1 1/2 t. salt
3 c. broth (chicken or beef is fine)

3 slices whole wheat bread, cubed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sweet potato puree
2 tbls grated Parmesan plus more for serving
dash of pepper & paprika
1/2 pound ground beef (use turkey if you can, but my husband can detect ground turkey a mile away)

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside. Set a large pot over medium-high heat. When pot is hot, add the oil, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until onion is softened but not browned. Puree tomatoes and their juice with a food processor. Add tomatoes to the pot along with the purees and broth.

Meanwhile, put bread, eggs and sweet potato, Parmesan and spices in a bowl and let soak until bread is soft. Add ground meat and incorporate until mixed well. Then form 1/2" meatballs and drop into soup. Simmer until meatballs are cooked: 12-15 minutes.

Serve with Parmesan on top.

And, I am happy to report that all 5 people ate it and liked it! Even Annika! The funny thing was Colby sat down and said "Soooo... how did you get the sweet potatoes in here? I saw you peeling sweet potatoes." (He dislikes sweet potatoes!) I waited until after everyone proclaimed their love for dinner before I told him where the hidden treats were.

Again, I would like to reiterate that I, in no way agree with sneaking vegetables into your kids food while not working with them to eat real vegetables. I just think you are setting them up for a rude awakening and a lifetime of food struggles.

But, to add value to your meals, pull out that Magic Bullet and some fresh veggies and puree to your hearts content. You can even grate veggies into things like taco meat or casseroles to cut back on meat and fat/yuck content while adding great nutritional value. Try grated carrots in your ground beef, cauliflower in your mashed potatoes, pureed fruit and yogurt ice pops instead of sugar pops... the possibilities are endless.


  1. I'm totally with you! When I was making baby food I ended up with a bunch of extra carrot because my youngest is carrot-sensitive. So I added it to spaghetti sauce. It was very good! It's not a bad cooking practice, it just shouldn't replace actual veggies.

  2. I completely agree with you about sneaking in the veggies - it doesn't teach them to appreciate and learn to like real veggies. I do like the idea of adding in purees where we can, but I question the actually nutritional value of it. If you already cook the veg to puree it and then cook it again in the new recipe how much has it retained? (not trying to be difficult honestly just wondering)

  3. I can't wait to make all of Arielle's food! Is the Magic Bullet a good option for that? I just feel I will get tired of cleaning my food proccessor! My cousin makes all kinds of things, especially the baked good from that book. It isn't about sneaking them into the food for her, but making the sweets more healthy.

  4. This sounds delish, and much to my chagrin, I'M the one who needs pureed veggies in order to eat them without making faces. I'm going to keep a look out in the bargain bins for the book, and in the meantime, I'm making this for dinner sometime this week. Keep up the great work on the blog - I've been reading for a few weeks now and LOVE it. xoxo

  5. Thank a heap!!! I love this book. I remember when Oprah featured it on her show.

  6. My mother in law got me this book during the same kind of discount sale. I didn't even know I wanted it, but I do like it a lot. My son and I love all veggies and fruit, it's my Husband who I sometimes worry about, so the book has helped me open my mind to all the places you can add a little nutrients along with the usual dishes of vegetables on the table- have you tried the cauliflower scrambled eggs? Surprisingly good!