Let them eat (veggie)Cake!


There is a big hoo-ha going on in bloggerland about Jessica Seinfeld’s new cookbook, Deceptively Delicious.  Two issues: first, her book very strongly resembles a cookbook which came out a while back called The Sneaky Chef, by Missy Chase Lapine.  Second, apparently a lot of moms feel that hiding veggies in food is not teaching your children to eat their veggies.

And Parent Bloggers Network wants to know how this resonates for me.


Regarding the first issue: I have nothing much to say other than I am not surprised.   

Regarding the second issue?  First some background on my child: Nik ate everything we put in front of him until he was about 15 months old.  Then his taste buds decided to go on a permanent sabbatical, and he refused everything except cookies (no nuts), waffles, pancakes, french toast, buttered toast, pizza (without a lot of junk on it), chicken nuggets (including the restaurant versions), orange chicken, Trader Joe’s breaded tilapia (mmm!), cod sticks, grilled cheese sandwiches, and garlic bread.  If it is breaded, he will definitely try it…and then spit it out if the insides are too mushy or taste different.  But he loves his carbs! 

No veggies, and no fruit at all.  So I would make smoothies and throw in yogurt, bananas, berries, flaxseed, protein powder, juice.  And then after a summer of that, he turned his nose up at smoothies. 

All of this combined with the fact that he was not very verbal made for a real fun mealtime routine.  I always present veggies to him, but then I have to deal with seeing them thrown on the floor or on the table.   Now he tries to pass them off to his sister. 

I checked out websites, books, theories, philosophies, any way to get something of nutritious value into my son. For the past year I have spent what seems like a second mortgage on pediasure (a supplementary drink).  He gets one bottle every night, and sometimes one during the day.

My son was diagnosed 8 months ago with PDD-NOS, an autism spectrum disorder.  Apparently this level of pickiness is one of the traits of children on the spectrum.  His ABA tutors have that as one of his goals, but that is down the road, and I am not looking forward to those weeks of hell.  [This is not an excuse, believe me, it is just a fact.]

My chief concern is that Nik get the nutrition from the veggies.  As one of his therapists told me, it is my responsibility to put nutritious food in front of him, and it is his responsibility to eat it.   

So I bought The Sneaky Chef.  And I loved the ease of the recipes.  I made the mac and cheese with hidden cauliflower, the shredded zuchinni in chocolate cake, the pureed carrots in tomato sauce (which then gets used as the sauce for pizzas.)  I look forward to trying the chicken nuggets and the cookies. I have no guilt whatsoever about this.  He is not going to sit in therapy for years because I hid his veggies and fruit! 

[By the way, both his dad and I were extremely picky eaters as children.  I remember subsisting on rice and yogurt, and going for 3 weeks eating only jam sandwiches.  Nik’s grandma is quick to remind me that his dad was just as picky.]


10 thoughts on “Let them eat (veggie)Cake!

  1. Pingback: The Parent Bloggers Network » Deceptively Delicious Blog Blast - Just Eat It!

  2. Autism can include eating issues. My child with autism has eating issues, but compared to some, they’re mild. Good luck! The blogosphere is full of autism blogs by parents of autistic children and by adults on the spectrum. You are not alone.

  3. I love Sneaky Chef!

    My friend’s brother is a pediatrician with 7 kids. One of their kids only ate ketchup on bread for a few months, and then only while sitting under the table. Kid is in college now and perfectly normal. Sits at the table and all, lol.

    I like the idea of pureeing veggies and “hiding” them because it’s not as if it has to be an either or. The kids can still get the benefit here and now while parents continue to introduce raw or steamed flavors.

    Nice post!

  4. Try asking him to help you cook sometimes. It’s great for kids who have special needs and sensory issues. It is wonderful to expose them to new smells, tastes, textures and flavors!

    On my blog (http://whatscookingblog.wordpress.com/2007/10/08/is-deceptively-delicious-too-deceptive) I have been talking about where to draw the line between honesty and getting our kids to eat well.

    Take a peek and learn about some other ideas that might work that are less deceptive than what are in these books…

  5. MIchelle,

    Thanks for the suggestion. He currently helps me put away the groceries, put cream cheese on his bagel, and crack eggs into a bowl for french toast. I have noticed that when he helps, he is more excited about eating the food.

  6. Bombaygirl, that’s a great tip — get them to help with the food and they’re more excited about the eating of it. Makes perfect sense…like when you catch a fish it tastes particularly good. (OK, I’ve never caught a fish but… the analogy alone works for me).
    And for what it’s worth, my feeling is that any mom determined enough to make smoothies and work flax seed and whatnot into her tyke’s food is clearly sending a very loud message: that she cares. So anyone critiquing the sneakiness can go…shove off, says the ever-so-not-humble Crabmommy.

  7. Viva the clever Amma. Do what it takes to get those down? Is he advised GFCF diet? The best GFCF diet by default is a good Tam brahm diet:idli, dosai with cauliflower, carrot sambar, idli with pureed veggies in tiny cocktail idli stands-he can prick the tiny idlis with a fork, teach him to make a smiley face on the plate with the idlis, cocktail cheese dosai, upma with couscous, tayir sadam with pureed veggies, pineapple rasam.

    bombaygirl says: What a great idea. Now if only I was comfortable cooking tam brahm food! I am a poor excuse for a tamilian, really.

  8. Pingback: Mmm…eggs! « The Little Tortoise

  9. Pingback: Eating « The Little Tortoise

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