Delicious & Nutritious
These nightly battles have been fought since spinach, peas and other good-for-you foods first found their way onto plates. Many parents try every trick in the book—from bribery and bargaining to begging—but nothing seems to work.
Thanks to a new cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld, wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld and mother of three young children, parents can stop fighting and start savoring dinnertime!
Jessica's cookbook, Deceptively Delicious(SM), was inspired by her own family's veggie wars. Before discovering the secret to delicious, nutritious meals, she says she dreaded dinnertime. "The last thing you want to do is come home and make dinner and have people spit it out or say, "Ew! This is disgusting,'" she says.
Rather than giving up on healthy eating all together, Jessica figured out a way to get her kids to eat everything from beets to broccoli...without any whining!
"The trick to all of this is hiding vegetable purees in your children's foods," she says. "You can match the color of the puree to the color of the food that your kid is used to eating."
Jessica came up with this strategy while cooking for her family. She gives macaroni and cheese—one of her kids' favorite foods—a healthy spin by stirring in some butternut squash or cauliflower puree. The best part? Children can't taste a difference! "This was a big hit with my family," she says. "But it wasn't until I started inviting friends and family over that I realized that I had really hit on something big."
Go inside the Seinfeld home!
After many hours in the kitchen, Jessica came up with a variety of low-fat recipes for her cookbook. Each recipe was then tested by Joy Bauer, a nutritionist who gave Jessica her stamp of approval.
Now, every family in America can put Jessica's recipes to the test. Even Oprah, who doesn't have to hide veggies from anyone, says she's been experimenting with the purees. "It's so fun!" she says.
First, you'll need a mini food processor, kitchen timer and a rice steamer. "If you don't have a rice steamer, you can use a pot with a steamer basket, which works just as well," she says.
Jessica also uses a half-cup measuring cup to measure out her purees, plastic bags for storage and a pen to label the bags. A cutting board and sharp knife are the only other items you'll need to start sneaking nutrition into your kids' favorite foods!
Jessica says she sets aside one hour every Sunday to make her purees for the week. "My children go to bed, [and] Jerry and I sit in our kitchen and I make purees," she says. "We talk about everything that we sort of never make time for otherwise."
The pureeing process is simple, she says. First, you peel and chop your vegetable. Then, you toss it into the steamer. Once it's steamed and softened, you throw it in the food processor to puree.
Get directions for pureeing beets, carrots, squash and more!
Jessica stocks her refrigerator with the purees. Then, when she's ready to cook, she snips off a corner of the plastic bag and adds some into everything she makes. "I am not a professional chef, and I certainly am not a nutritionist, but I am a busy mother who is looking for simple, fast solutions to feed her family well," she says.
Jessica's passion for pureeing inspires Oprah to reveal a secret about herself. "This is a secret that most people don't know about me...I love pureeing and packaging," she says. "I used to just have like one or two purees, but this has changed my puree paradigm."
"Those are really, really good," Oprah says.
Get Jessica's brownie recipe!
Even Jerry, Jessica's Hollywood husband, loves these sweet treats. "I think [this brownie] would be great for death row," he jokes. "You get one bite of this, and then they throw the switch and you go, 'Fantastic. One bite of this, that's it, my life's complete.'"
"It was just the meat and the cheese," she says. "We love tacos at our house, so I had to come up with a way to get some vegetables in there."
To incorporate tomatoes—which her son Julian says he hates—Jessica cooks the ground turkey or beef in tomatoes first. Then, she adds sweet potato puree and lets the ingredients cook together. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and other antioxidants.
One night, Jessica says Julian was eating a taco while telling her about his hatred of tomatoes. "I just see this tinge of red, [and I said], 'I know you hate tomatoes, don't you?'" she says.
To make these crowd pleasers, Jessica dips boneless, skinless chicken in a mixture of egg and veggie puree. "Any puree works. They're just so delicious and really crispy—all kids love them," she says. "[Kids] never have said to me, 'Ew, there's a vegetable in here.'"
For extra crispy nuggets, Jessica suggests using broccoli puree. These chicken nuggets are also coated with a breadcrumb mixture that includes flaxseed meal, a heart-healthy source of fiber.
Get the complete recipe for Jessica's chicken nuggets!
Even though Jessica's kids are getting the nutrients they need from hidden purees, she says she always serves meals with a side of veggies. "Not only do I add purees to everything that I now cook, I always, always, on the side of [the] plate, have fresh vegetables," she says. "I never want my children to think that eating vegetables is not important."
These mashed potatoes are mixed with cauliflower puree, a great source of vitamin C. You can even top them with lean turkey meat and low-fat cheese.
Oprah has already used Jessica's cauliflower puree in other dishes. "You know what I tried this weekend for Stedman and myself which I really loved? I loved the cauliflower mixed in the scrambled eggs."
Oprah: How is it in there?
Jessica: Mother's magic.
Oprah: Mother's magic. So [the puree] is inside here?
Jessica: It's inside there. It looks like yolk, right?
Oprah: Yes. That's so hidden, I can't even find it!
"All my friends and our kids love [them]," she says. "They take them to school all the time."
Jessica says it's important to remember that these vegetable purees are interchangeable. "You can really use so many different ones for every different recipe," she says.
One of Oprah's favorite sweets is the oatmeal raisin cookie. Jessica's version, which she says are also Jerry's favorite, include zucchini and banana puree. "They're really low-fat," she says.
These cookies are so good, Oprah passes them around so audience members can have a taste!
"The only bad thing about these is that if you make them, five minutes later they're gone!" she says. "I never even get to try them."
"These are the chocolate chip cookies I love most in the world—more than any other one I've ever had in my life," Jessica says.
Oprah can't believe her taste buds. "That is shocking," she says. "It's shocking that that's a chickpea!"
"That is unbelievable, isn't it?" Oprah asks. "It is so moist and rich."
When Jessica cooks without purees, she says Jerry thinks there's something missing. "I made this amazing birthday cake for my father, and he's like, 'Did you buy this?' Because I left out the puree," she says.
If it's in the house, Jessica says Jerry will get up in the middle of the night to have a slice. "He says that this is a beacon in the house," she says. "He can't control himself."
Ali Wentworth, an actress, mom and Jessica's close friend, takes the Deceptively Delicious(SM) recipes to a panel of picky eaters—a classroom full of first and second graders!
Find out how kids really feel about Jessica's recipes.
When Ali asks the students if they like vegetables, she's met with a resounding "No!" Broccoli, spinach and cauliflower top the most-hated list.
One boy even says he'd rather lick the bottom of his classmate's shoe than eat broccoli.
Little does he know, the brownies Ali shares with the class have spinach and carrots in them. One student says the brownies are the best thing she's ever tasted!
Now, Jessica hopes her cooking strategies and healthy recipes inspire other families to come together at dinnertime.
"It's so important to eat with your family and to do it in a way that's peaceful and happy," she says. "That's what happened to me. ... My mind was full of peace because I knew I was doing really well by my family. I felt like a better mom."
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