January 2, 2009

New Year, New Habits (this is a really long post)

I am so excited to blog about this! My New Year's resolution is to invest a little more time in meal planning and work on increasing my kids' healthy eating habits while reducing the unhealthy ones. I know it's only January 2, but so far I am doing well on both counts. Tonight, I actually prepared a pork roast. Yes, it was pre-marinated, but I baked it, checked the temp, and it came out juicy and delicious! Maybe next time I'll actually cook potatoes instead of serving instant, but that's all right. A bona fide, sit-down-around-the-table-and-say-grace meal was enjoyed by my family tonight. And the kids ate well...they even ate small servings of peas! Which leads me to my next topic:

For weeks I have done some reading up on and comparing of two similar books: Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld and The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine. Both are cookbooks offering moms strategies for sneaking veggies into our children's food--primarily by pureeing vegetables and adding them as ingredients hidden in the dishes. I even spent a few hours at Barnes and Noble skimming through both of them (this was one of the few times I spent with myself this holiday break--what a treat! If you haven't gone browsing by yourself at a bookstore lately, I highly recommend it. It was great therapy.) I'm not going to get into the pros and cons of both books here. I decided to invest in Seinfeld's book, mostly because I am NOT a great cook and her 'busy-mom to busy-mom' style was laid back and less threatening (yes, I said threatening. I really do get stressed out when it comes to meal prep). Her puree add-ins are single-ingredient, which also seemed more up my "easy alley" than Lapine's combo purees.

So, on New Year's Eve day I bought the book, made a shopping list from the book while still at B & N, and headed out to buy some fresh vegetables, a rice steamer, and a mini food processor, both of which I got for under $80 total at Kohl's. I bought the Rocket, a cheaper version of the Magic Bullet. After we got the kids to bed that night, Kris hung out on the computer and I spent a few hours in the kitchen steaming cauliflower, roasting squash (never done THAT before), and pureeing my little heart out. It was fun! I learned that a rice steamer also steams veggies so that they are tender yet firm, maintain their color (and thus, the vitamins), and taste wonderful! But I digress. I made two purees: cauliflower and squash, in 1/2 cup servings.

The next morning, I tried Jessica's recipe for pancakes with sweet potato puree in the batter (I used a leftover jar of babyfood for this one). They weren't as fluffy as regular pancakes, but they tasted really good. The best part: all three kids ate them up without detecting the hidden sweet potatoes! Grant noticed that the texture and color were slightly different, but I told him it was because I added cinnamon to the batter, which I did. I also tried one of Jessica's tips--giving the boys their syrup in small medicine cups so they could pour it on themselves. They loved that.

Thus far, I have also made her Greek dip, with pureed chickpeas and artichokes, parmesan cheese, lowfat mayo, lemon juice, and a few other ingredients I forget right now, which I think is fabulous. That's just for me. And this morning, I made scrambled eggs with pureed cauliflower added in. Can you believe it? Again, the boys didn't notice it and they both ate it up. I confess, I still added cheese b/c Grant really likes cheese in his eggs, but I think the real diversion was the fact that I treated them to green eggs via food coloring. That's always a hit at our house. Finally, this afternoon I made Jessica's applesauce muffins with unsweetened applesauce, oatmeal, and pureed squash. They aren't as sweet as Grant would have liked, but he still ate his, and Ross and Hope devoured two apiece. I really love these because without as much sugar you can actually taste the cinnamon and applesauce. I might add in a little Splenda next time I make them.

So, just to recap: in the last 48 hours my kids have eaten cauliflower, squash, and sweet potatoes (none of which they would have touched had I served them outright) all because I
1. actually cooked and baked, and 2. invested a little time and thought into planning ahead. If any of the rest of you have tried either of these cookbooks, I'd love to hear your experiences.


TBRKO said...

Holy Cow!!! I looked into that book, but the thought of steaming and pureeing anything freaked me out. If you can do it, so can I!!! This is great motivation. We will talk tonight at the party.

Jenay said...

Erin- Thanks so much for sharing that! It takes sooo much effort to meal plan, shop, cook and then pray your kids (and husband) will actually eat it. My goal for 09 is also to meal plan and cook more. Kudos to you!

ABCDH said...

I received that book as a gift for Christmas...2007...and haven't cracked it open. Reading this post has got me thinking I could manage it, though.
The biggest hurdle is getting the steamer and magic bullet thingy.

Erin said...

Listen, If I can do it, anyone can...Bonnie can attest to that. The tricky part for me will be keeping it going when I'm back to work next week. It's great fun! I feel like I'm really accomplishing good things for my family.