Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cookbook review: Deceptively Delicious

What would you say if I told you I threw a can of chickpeas in the chocolate chip cookie dough? Would you gag if you knew the pizza sauce contained pureed spinach? That the burgers contained whole wheat bread crumbs, carrots and skim milk? Or that rich, warm chocolate pudding was made with a mashed avocado?

There's a reason celebrity wife Jessica Seinfeld is calling her cooking-for-kids book Deceptively Delicious. Folks--particular little ones--don't want to know the familiar food they're enjoying contains vegetables. "Icky" vitamin and fiber-dense vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets.

You see, Ms. Seinfeld had an epiphany. She realized she could stir a little baby food into her older children's meal, and they wouldn't notice.

Bingo! Book idea. Contact a nutritionist to figure out which vegetables pack the biggest nutritional punch. Hire a chef to develop recipes that incorporate said purees. And get a kick-ass publicist to book you on Oprah.

Of course, being the spouse of the country's most successful comedian might have opened a few doors for Jessica, but she's delivered a cookbook that's the answer to many a mom's prayers. Kid-friendly food that's not junk in a cookbook that's as lovely as Jessica herself. The art direction reminds me of the classic Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook.

So, how do the recipes taste? Well, fresh out of the oven, no one could detect the presence of chickpeas in my chocolate chip cookies. They received an enthusiastic thumbs-up from my husband, my daughter, and five elementary school boys from the neighborhood. But once I'd stored them, they quickly turned overly moist--wet even. I had to warm them up (and dry them out) in the toaster oven before trying to eat them. The chocolate pudding with avocado was dark, rich and reasonably tasty, but far too greasy. Z took three bites and walked away from the bowl, something she's never done to anything chocolate before.

Neither Z nor my husband could detect the summer squash in the Blueberry Lemon Muffins or the spinach in the pizza, although I'll admit I just stirred some of Jessica's spinach puree into a jar of Trader Joe's pizza sauce. Josh and I both loved her Meatball Soup (it got mixed reviews from Z and another toddler) and everyone enjoyed the hamburgers, which tasted like a cross between a juicy bad-for-you burger and a veggie burger.

Rather than follow her recipe for pancakes, which calls for pancake mix, I made waffles from scratch and stirred in the suggested sweet potato puree. They were delicious and no one was the wiser.

There are a lot of other tasty-looking recipes, but because my using this cookbook sets off my husband's alarm bells (What weird vegetable are you trying to hide in there?), I may end up taking inspiration from Deceptively Delicious and stir purees into our family's favorite recipes.
Either way, we're all getting a little more goodness with every bite of our favorite foods. My freezer's already stocked with Ziploc baggies full of pre-measured purees.

Now if I could only remember to take Baby A out of the Hug-a-Bub before I turn on that blasted Cuisinart... It startles her every time!

See what other Parent Bloggers have to say about Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook.