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Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food Hardcover – 2007
The Amazon Book Review
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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.
--This text refers to the Hardcover-spiral edition.
“Just when you’d abandoned all hope of ever convincing your kids to eat their carrots, here comes Jessica Seinfeld.” (Redbook Magazine)
“Seinfeld’s recipes were written with determined simplicity.” (Cookie magazine)
“An elegant plan…. The recipes blend nutrition into a meal and harmony into mealtime.” (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to the Hardcover-spiral edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
First, I plugged my Bob Seger CD and got the ball rolling. The Beatles work just as well, the decision is yours. Then I washed my hands, put on my "Lutheran Jello Power" apron and said to myself: "It's Go Time!" I own a Vita-Mix blender which double as a food processor. I own a rice cooker which can be used to stream veggies. If you do not own a food processor or a steamer, do not despair. You can bake a lot of the veggies or put a colander in a shallow pan of boiling water to steam them. You can always invest in a steamer and/or food processor if you want, later. The first recipe I tries was:
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: 5 star.They are delicious! The only tweaking I did to the recipe was I pureed the chickpeas before adding them to the batter. I also used brown sugar Splenda rather than regular brown sugar; when done you have a batch of cookies that have 1/2 cup of brown sugar plus protein in them!! There is no white sugar in this recipe and I also used whole wheat flour. Excellent!! I have actually made these twice in a week.
SPAGETTI AND MEATBALLS: 5 stars. My kids are not that into meatballs and they ate them. This was my first attempt at meatballs, ever, and they turned out great. I put the broccoli puree and the sweet potato puree in the spagetti sauce and no one tasted anything different.
CHOCOLATE PUDDING: 5 stars. I put the avocado puree in this and believe it or not my two sons complained that is was "too much chocolate tasting!" The pudding was that good.
MACARONI AND CHEESE: 5 stars. I tried putting the sweet potato puree in with a box mix and there was no taste difference. I mixed the puree withe the milk and you could taste the puree. The kids actually said it tasted better than before!!
FROZEN YOGURT POPS: 5 stars. Very good, very sweet. I do not own popsicle molds so I used those multi-color cups from toddler days (my kids are 8 & 10 yrs old) and although they worked great - I bought popsicle sticks from a craft store - next time I am going to use smaller dixie cups so the portions are smaller.
The recipes are mistake proof as well; I put avocado puree rather than the brocolli puree in pizza sauce to make pizza burgers (Jessica says to label your bags, guess now I know why) but it still tasted good. It actually made them taste a bit sweeter, like I had put banana peppers in the recipe as well.
One error I made was when I was done with the puree was I put all the puree in one large Zip-lock bag. Follow Jessica's advice and use smaller bags so you can pull out just how much you need. I pureed the following veggies the first day: Summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, avocados, spinach, zucchini and sweet potatoes. I bought a bag of frozen blueberries. I am little type A but I wanted all the puree to be available so I could try as many recipes as possible. If you want to try a recipe or two but don't own all the equipment (especially a food processor, which if you are going to do this long term you will need) try the sweet potato recipes. You can bake a sweet potato and mash it up with a fork and some water. And one sweet potato goes a very long way. I used three and I have enought puree to feed a day care. For a week. The avocado would be another one to try without all the equipment, as it is easily mashed with a fork and some water. The borcolli and caulifower recipes will require a food processor as they are tougher vegetables to mash, even in a steamed state.
There has been much discussion about another book that was published last spring and "competition" with this book. Well I am no expert but there is no way that this book could have been put together and published in six months. Why can't both books be on the market? I am sure both authors want the same thing: Better diets for us all. I have ordered the other cookbook as well, there is room for both on my shelf.
As for the argument that we are lying to our kids: Big whoop-de-doo. I have eaten more sweet potatoes, brocolli, califlower, carrots, etc. in the past week that I have in the past six months. Do I present veggies in their natural state? Yes. Do my kids always eat them? No. But at least they are presented and I know they are still eating them in the puree. Mealtimes should be about talking and sharing, not arguing over food. My younger son likes to help with cooking and baking and he knows the purees are in there and he could care less, as long as can still eat. I highly recommend this cookbook and as soon as I receive the other cookbook I will write a review of that book as well. This book, to me, is a great teaching tool about nutrition. My kids and I have gone through the recipes together and discussed which ones we want to try. Do my kids eat cake and ice cream? Of course, just not every day. We talk about nutrition in a matter of fact way: These are the things to make your body grow. Period. No arguing, no crying, no bribing. I am sort of like Dragnet that way: "Just the facts, ma'am!"
I also want to edit my review to add that I could not help notice that all the one star and rwo star reviews are very critical of the author's personal life. I sincerely hope that folks can see through such attempts at being critical of the author because she is once divorced and is now married to a celebrity. It is sad that such personal attacks are listed in what should be a simple book review.
First of all, lots of reviewers are very passionate about the whole philsophy of how we feed children. There are many who feel strongly that "hiding" vegetables isn't a good idea and that children should eat vegetables "as they are." I respect that opinion-- but that is NOT a fair review of this book. That is a separate philosophical issue that you should resolve in your own home and for your own family.
Deceptively Delicious states openly, on the front cover in fact, that its purpose is to get children to eat good food. That's it. So, to review this book, I think its fair to focus on how well it meets its stated goal. In other words, I'm going to review the specific recipies and the strategies:
I have made every single recipe in this book. They are mostly "YUMMY!" with a couple that are just okay. The standouts, by far, are: spagetti with meatballs, chicken nuggets, soup, macaroni and cheese, chocolate pudding, burgers, and grilled cheese.
I am a mother who works full time, and I am an average cook. No special kitchen skills. I make my purees on Sunday nights after the little one is asleep, while I chat in the kitchen. It does take an investment of time and a willingness to grocery shop and prepare food. However, the stragies have truly revolutionized the way I think about food and children. I still offer "traditional" vegetables in "pure" form, but I also have changed my thinking about what goes into my child's body and how to best nourish him. Every dish, no matter how simple, contains wholesome ingredients and that makes me feel good.
Bottom-line: there are lots of reviewers who may judge these "deceptive" strategies, but I'm willing to bet my kiddo has eaten more broccoli, cauliflower and carrots this week than most kids eat in a month!