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Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food Hardcover – 2007
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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 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!
I do agree with other reviewers that it is very time-consuming and labor intensive if you are cooking a recipe from start to finish. I have a small baby food maker the steams and blends the veggies and was making a lot of purees from scratch for baby food, so what I would do is make and freeze the purees before-hand, and then attempt the recipes - not doing the full start to finish process all at once. I do have to make all my son's meals from scratch since he has food allergies, so I am used to having to put in time and effort for his meals and cooking from scratch. I have a full time job, and getting meals together almost feels like a second part time job - so having fun and creative strategies is something I appreciate!
My son as a baby did not have sweets and loved veggies, but as he turned into a toddler he started only eating certain things. Since he already had a limited food choices, its very stressful to me that he is not getting everything he needs in his diet. This makes my job as mommy chef - feel better when my son actual eats what I spend time making and enjoys it with the huge plus of getting some extra fruits and veggies in those meals.
I do also have most of the Sneaky Chef books as well and they do have one for strategies for kids with allergies. If I could only buy one book in this genre for me it would be the The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue book. But if you can afford to get both the DD and the SS books I would go for it - both are enjoyable to read and I find mixing and matching, taking tips and tricks and bits and pieces of recipes from both books and creating a DD & SS frankenstien recipes to meet my son's needs with his allergies. Its been a great journey for me to read all these books, it has given me new tools for my cooking toolbox - even if I don't make every recipes ver batem - I have learned how to incorporate the purees, juices and health items into other meals I make for my son. I am thankful for both books and love having them in my huge cook book library!
I would rate this as a 5 - if it had some more ideas for substitutions for food allergies & more quick and speedy shortcut tips, as does the SS books.