It has become common knowledge that childhood obesity rates are increasing every year. But the rates continue to rise. And between busy work schedules and the inconvenient truth that kids simply refuse to eat vegetables and other healthy foods, how can average parents ensure their kids are getting the proper nutrition and avoiding bad eating habits?
As a mother of three, Jessica Seinfeld can speak for all parents who struggle to feed their kids right and deal nightly with dinnertime fiascos. As she wages a personal war against sugars, packaged foods, and other nutritional saboteurs, she offers appetizing alternatives for parents who find themselves succumbing to the fastest and easiest (and least healthy) choices available to them. Her modus operandi? Her book is filled with traditional recipes that kids love, except they're stealthily packed with veggies hidden in them so kids don't even know! With the help of a nutritionist and a professional chef, Seinfeld has developed a month's worth of meals for kids of all ages that includes, for example, pureed cauliflower in mac and cheese, and kale in spaghetti and meatballs. She also provides revealing and humorous personal anecdotes, tearout shopping guides to help parents zoom through the supermarket, and tips on how to deal with the kid that "must have" the latest sugar bomb cereal.
But this book also contains much more than recipes and tips. By solving problems on a practical level for parents, Seinfeld addresses the big picture issues that surround childhood obesity and its longterm (and ruinous) effects on the body. With the help of a prominent nutritionist, her book provides parents with an arsenal of information related to kids' nutrition so parents understand why it's important to throw in a little avocado puree into their quesadillas. She discusses the critical importance of portion size, and the specific elements kids simply must have (as opposed to adults) in order to flourish now and in the future: protein, calcium, vitamins, and Omega 3 and 6 fats.
Jessica Seinfeld's book is practical, easytoread, and a godsend for any parent that wants their kids to be healthy for a long time to come.
Bob Greene, author of The Best Life Diet:
"I found the techniques for adding vegetables to meals extremely creative and the recipes fantastic! Deceptively Delicious is a must have for your healthy kitchen."
Questions for Jessica Seinfeld
Amazon.com: My seven-year-old inspects the food on his plate like a hawk (if there was a hawk that only ate bagels and macaroni). Anything with the least bit of color goes untouched. What's a mom or dad to do?
Seinfeld: Two of my three children were exactly the same way. The vegetables, which I worked hard to prepare, not only went untouched, they were often insulted ("Eeewww...!"). And the harder I pushed them to eat good food, the harder they pushed back. We were literally ruining each other's meals.
That conflict was the inspiration for the book. I realized I wasn't going to win the power struggle, so I decided to join them on their turf. I started with the foods they would eat (chicken nuggets, tacos, macaroni and cheese) and I added a pureed vegetable of the same color. So if your child only eats macaroni and cheese (or noodles and butter), you should add cauliflower or yellow squash puree, which utterly disappears. Everyone wins: they get the nutrition they need and you get the satisfaction of doing a better job as a parent.
Amazon.com: That same picky second-grader will often try something new one time and declare he likes it, but the next time we serve it, he seems to have lost his spirit of adventure and won't eat it again. Any advice?
Seinfeld: First and foremost, remember that not every meal you prepare for a child will be a success. Kids at this age are naturally testing preferences, pushing boundaries, and changing their minds. That's part of their development and those are urges not worth battling. As I learned the hard way, the more pressure you apply, the more kids will "hate" certain foods. And, while it would be nice if kids had a "spirit of adventure" when it comes to food, I've found it's best to eliminate adventure and stick to the basics--foods they already love, laden with added nutrition they don't know is there. Finally, be consistent, firm and patient. I have a rule in my house: you don't have to eat what's on the plate, but what's on the plate is all that's being served. Eventually, they come around.
Amazon.com: Are your kids interested in cooking yet? Are there ways to introduce healthy eating habits with the child helping in the kitchen?
Seinfeld: My children are interested in baking because they love any excuse to be around sweets. But I make sure whatever we bake has pureed veggies in it and is actually low in refined sugar. So my children actually think baking cakes, brownies, and cookies with sweet potatoes, carrots, or beets is the proper way to cook.
Amazon.com: What are your kids' favorite recipes in the book?
Seinfeld: Every recipe in this book is a favorite. I've tried out countless creations on my kids, and if they didn't love them (which happened frequently!), they didn't make it into the book. But, if pressed, I will say they are crazy about the tacos, the chicken nuggets, the brownies, the pancakes, and my birthday cakes. [See her recipe for delicious brownies made with carrot and spinach.]
Amazon.com: I have to ask it, since I know many readers will: do these recipes require a squad of personal chefs to prepare, or can a busy mom or dad without seven years of Seinfeld residuals put them together by themselves?
Seinfeld: I'm a busy mom with three kids, a job, and a husband who travels constantly, but I'm uncompromising when it comes to my kids' health and nutrition. Leaving that to someone else is out of the question. My parents had three kids and both worked too, and we always managed to eat healthy meals as a family. That's the standard I've always wanted to meet. So when I started creating recipes from my pureed veggie experiments, I had three criteria: my kids had to love the food, the preparation had to be quick, and the process had to be simple. Believe me, if I can do these recipes quickly and easily, ANYONE can.
Amazon.com: How are the reading skills of Sascha, your oldest child and pickiest eater? Have you blown your cover by publishing your secrets?
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.