Friday, February 8, 2008

Spinach Fudge Brownies anyone??

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A friend phoned me yesterday and exitedly told me about a new book she has been reading called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. The wife of the comedian Jerry Seinfeld has brought out a book of recipes incorporating purees of vegetables such as beetroot, pumpkin, carrot and spinach. In the book you'll find simple ways of slipping veggies into macaroni and meatloaf but you'll also find recipes for desserts such as Spinach and Carrot Brownie. Yum... or perhaps not.

I felt cynical from the start... how much nutritional benefit from the vegetables can there be in a mere slice of cake or Brownie that contains a total of 1 cup of vegetable puree and what vitamin content will remain in the cake once the vegetable has been steamed or baked, then pureed and then baked in the cake once again??

The same goes for the chicken nuggets dipped in broccoli puree that she shows how to make. Each nugget will have a very thin coating of broccoli once cooked so it seems really pointless and a waste of time from my point of view.

I feel that there are far better and effective ways of slipping vegetables into the family food without going to such lengths and I expect the addition of the vegetables to enhance the flavour of the food rather than being covered up by the strong taste of another ingredient as proposed by Jessica.

I like to make vegetable soups (pureed) quite frequently and find that my children will quite happily eat Butternut Squash soup with some fresh crusty bread but they wouldn't consider eating butternut squash when I roast it with the chicken... it's all about presentation and honesty. The children don't like whole squash but enjoy it as a soup and they know that as a soup they enjoy it. I don't need to try to fool them into eating things.

I find that grating some courgette (zucchini) and carrot into rice before cooking and adding some spices is a nice way of adding veggies to the meal and makes the rice tastey.

Shorba - the national soup of Algeria, my husband's country -contains a reasonable amount of vegetables and is exceptionally tastey and the children enjoy it.

As mentioned in this article, the whole idea of pureeing veggies and slipping them into our children's 'junk' meals (cakes, brownies, chicken nuggets) gives out completely the wrong message. We will find ourselves encouraging the kids to have another slice of cake simply because "It's good for you" and we will not bother to reinforce the idea of a healthy balanced diet.

"Philosophically and practically, this is not really an effective approach. It will not develop an appreciation of the flavors, textures, and interests of various vegetables, which is what you should try to do by introducing them over and over again until they catch on." - Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and author of What to Eat.

If you have enough vegetables on offer on a weekly basis there are bound to be at least one or two vegetables that the children will find to their taste. My 4 older children have turned into salad freaks and they love lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers... that has to be a good start! One of my daughters loves sweetcorn with her tuna and mayo in a sandwich. The four of them were crazy about broccoli at one point... to the point that if anyone looked away from their plate my son would steal the broccoli off their plate.

I will continue to make stews and other dishes with 2 or 3 vegetables in and encourage them to try different things. If they don't like the turnip in the cous cous stew at least they will enjoy the carrot. One of my girls recently discovered that long green beans are actually quite nice.

Food is a journey of discovery from the outset and I am still on that journey myself trying new things and I don't think I will be forking out the 100 Riyals for Jessica's book. You won't find any spinach in the chocolate cake in this house but I will be happy to add a little feta to the spinach and make it into a toasted sandwich.


UmmLayla said...

I think you and I are on the same page about this!LOL Did you read this post?

I must confess that I actually did shell out the money for such a book... Maybe I'll give it to my SIL who actually does all that stuff. She put veggies in her daughter's ketchup, smoothies whatever. I think my kids would notice if I gave them a broccoli smoothie!LOL

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

I didn't read as far back as last November so I didn't see that post before. :) Actually the book you bought, The Sneaky Chef, was mentioned quite a bit on one of the links in my post.

Definitely on the same wavelength then! lol. Have to admit though that I do feel a teeeeeeny bit tempted to try making a cake with vegetables in just to see the reaction of the kids and if they eat it... I think a good old-fashioned carrot cake would be easier though. ;)

UmmLayla said...

I know UI... I am tempted to make a recipe for pumpkin donuts I saw in Deceptively Delicious, but we all really love pumpkin stuff!!!

Rainbow In The Grey Sky said...

I use pumkin and carrots in sweet dishes, we alhamduillah like veg , kids moan but will at least try it and eat a lil. The book not my cupa tea but then i feel a junky diet is more prevalent in the developed world. We crave for junk food here as there is none. We are not junk food fans never have been but now and then i would not mind. I remeber when i was in the UK a tin of heniz baked beans would sit in the Kitchen cupboard for 3 months before it was eaten sometimes longer.

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Hi sis Rainbow! Well, the thing is I'll make the so called junky things for my kids like chicken nuggets (breaded breast pieces) and cake but a nugget is a nugget and a cake is a cake. I aint gonna be pretending it's anything aprt from that. Nothing wrong with the chicken nuggets if I am going to be serving something like peas and pasta with them and encouraging the kids to try it all. And I KNOW you bake a lot masha'Allah (your msn messages ;) !) Cakes are all part of a balanced diet though!

Anonymous said...

good point sister! mashaAllah...i was considering this book..but now i am reserved about it..
jazakAllah kheir (ive been meaning to put u on my blogroll..inshaAllah ill do that right now!)

barakAllah feeki..
where in saudi are u?

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,
We are in Riyadh sis. :)