On the eve of the release of my first-ever book, I am sitting down to write my first-ever blog entry. Eighteen months ago, if anyone had told me that I would ever do either of these things, I would have called them crazy. Then again, I've never been one to keep a good thing to myself.
You see, mealtime at my house used to be a challenge. Night after night, I'd pore over recipes, grocery shop, cook and lovingly serve nutritious meals I thought were delicious—only to have my oldest child proclaim, "Ewww, I don't like this!" As her younger siblings followed her lead and pushed away their plates, the meal would fall apart. Eventually I gave up on vegetables and resorted to a "healthier" brand of frozen chicken nuggets, which, along with pasta, was all they seemed to like.
At the end of each day, I'd wave my white flag in surrender, wondering how three kids under the age of 6 had won the battle. But being an effective parent means having a plan, and I thought long and hard about how I could feed my children beautiful, healthy meals filled with fruit and vegetables. It was time to end this war—I just needed a strategy. But nothing came to me.
Then one night, as I pureed butternut squash for my baby (who, at the time, would eat anything you put in front of him) and simultaneously cooked macaroni and cheese for the older kids, I had a revelation: "The color of these two dishes is identical!"
I spooned some puree into the mac and cheese, noting the puree didn't change its texture, flavor or color. Taking a chance, I fed it to my family and my kids ate it happily. I had secretly tucked a vegetable they'd never consider eating into a food they loved and no one had noticed. A miracle in my own kitchen!
The Seinfelds were one big happy family that night. My kids ate a balanced meal without negotiation or pressure, and best of all, I was able to make it quickly and easily in my own kitchen. As a big believer in homemade food, this was the solution I was looking for.
Now I'm hooked on pureeing as a foolproof way to end mealtime madness and help my kids build healthy bodies and habits. I want to keep educating myself (and you!) on the nutritional values of different ingredients and matching my kids' favorite foods with similarly colored fruits and vegetables. Everywhere I look, I see opportunities to puree—spinach and carrots in tomato sauce, cauliflower in chicken nuggets, pineapples in French toast...I've even snuck avocado into chocolate pudding!
In my quest to save myself from the stress of mealtime with three strong-willed children, I'm happy to say I have eliminated "Eat your vegetables!" from my dinner discourse in favor of more stimulating conversation. I hope I can help you do the same—and I hope that we can learn from one another.
I'll check in soon. Good luck and happy eating!
Printed from Oprah.com on Monday, December 9, 2013