The scoop on “Deceptively Delicious”


Sweet potato pancakes (well, sort of)

I’m willing to do just about anything to get my kids to eat the foods they need.  I have made up songs and dances about eating.  We get Eliza to eat by telling her the food will make her “BIG AND STRONG” as we all raise our arms and flex our muscles.  (Annoyingly, Zach likes to do this, but it doesn’t encourage him to eat.)  I have really enjoyed using “Deceptively Delicious” by Jessica Seinfeld to sneak veggies and other nutritional foods into their bellies.  I’ve probably tested at least half of the recipes in the cookbook, so I wanted to give my “review,” if you will, of the book thus far.

1. Yes, I would recommend it.  If you have general cooking knowledge, you can easily follow the recipes in this cookbook.  Additionally, all of the baking recipes I’ve tried have been fantastic and I love thinking that my kids are getting a little extra nutrition from their sweets.

2. The “fried” recipes don’t work so well: Chicken nuggets (p.75), mozzarella sticks (p.91), aloha chicken kebabs (p.95), and tofu nuggets (p.100) haven’t come out like I’d hoped.  I did change the chicken nuggets recipe substantially to make it work better.  I’ll send that out in a different post.  But generally speaking, vegetables mixed with egg don’t really stick to the foods very well, and thus the breadcrumb coatings don’t stay on very well.

3. These recipes work well and are easy: French toast (p.49), oatmeal (p.68), pita pizzas (p.96 – you can also use broccoli),  tortilla cigars (p.144), avocado spread (p.136  – this goes well with the tortilla cigars or tacos), tacos (p.148 – they’re just a little advanced for our kids still), chocolate pudding (p.159), chocolate peanut butter dip (p.163), frozen yogurt pops (p.167), and chocolate fondue (p.174).

4. My family’s favorites: Meatball soup (p.72), Italian meatloaf (p.79), mashed potatoes (p.80 – and you can add parsnips instead of cauliflower), beef stew (p.83), buttered noodles (p.108), burgers 2 (p.115), spaghetti pie (p.116), and lasagna (p.131).

5. Great baking: Banana bread (p.54), peanut butter and banana muffins (p.58), brownies (p.156), doughnuts (p.160), carrot cake muffins (p.185 – so moist and you don’t even need the frosting), and yellow cake (p.186).

6. I can’t get these to work: Pancakes (p.57) and pink pancakes (p.143).  See the photo above, but I am seriously wondering if these are missing the eggs.  I’ve tried to cook these as flat as possible, but still they don’t seem to cook on the inside.  I’ve cooked them up to 15-20 minutes total (and they’re supposed to take about 5).  I will not try them again unless perhaps with egg to see if that helps.

7. These are not tasty: tofu nuggets (p.100 – they’re just gross), burgers 1 (p.111 – everyone said they tasted like veggie burgers, but I liked them), and grilled cheese sandwiches (p.135 – maybe if you severely cut back on the amount of veggie puree).

Those are my initial thoughts.  I have a lot more recipes to try, and I’m thinking of getting Jessica’s second book, “Double Delicious: Good, simple food for busy, complicated lives.”  If you have either of these books and can recommend recipes or share tips based on what I’ve found, please comment!

Top 7 things that make my life easier right now


We all know we get by with a little help from our friends.  I thrive off of getting good tips and guidance from other moms.  And when I stumble upon something that works great for me, I love to share it with others.  So here are the top things that come to mind right now when it comes to making my life easier.  I hope you’ll chime in, too!

Keen shoes: I buy a lot of used things like clothes and toys, but I generally buy new shoes (or very gently used ones).  I think the marketers at Stride Rite convinced me that until age 5 or something, it’s very important for kids to have new shoes as they learn to walk and run (away from you).  I looked and looked for summer sandals that would work in and out of the water, protect my kids’ toes, have a whole heel, be comfortable and durable, and had good reviews.  I found Keens, and though pricey, they are worth every penny.  I have washed them in the washing machine and they don’t smell at all, even though my kids wear them just about every day without socks.  They still look new and I’ve had them a couple of months.  I am a believer.  I found mine online at backcountry.com for much less than they sell in retail stores.

Water Wow products:  These are great because you fill these “pens” with water and they draw, and unlike Color Wonder markers, they don’t need lids and won’t ever dry out.  The color is already built into the pages.  Eliza has not gotten bored with them, Zach is now using them, and every friend who has tried them has loved them.  They’re especially great for car trips and restaurants when your kids, like Zach, are still in a phase when they eat crayons.  I stumbled upon a couple of packs of these at Kohl’s and just went back for more.

The Good Nite Lite: Thanks to a reader recommendation, I FINALLY ordered one of these a few weeks ago and have been using it with Eliza.  It took three nights for her to understand that she couldn’t get out of bed until her “sun” came up.  Now she doesn’t come out of her room until after 7, and is sleeping past then sometimes.  It is magical.  I can’t wait until Zach is able to understand what it is.

Deceptively Delicious: Every time I tell someone I bought this cookbook, I hear something about some lawsuit.  I don’t care who’s suing whom; I care about getting my kids to eat semi-well-balanced foods.  I hear there’s another cookbook just like it called the Sneaky Chef.  Buy that one if you think she came up with the idea first.  The bottom line is it is genius and it is making me think more creatively about how to add nutrients to everyday foods my kids like.  And when I do my meal planning, I am looking to it right now for at least one or two meals a week.

Coated tablecloths and place mats: These are fairly expensive tablecloths that have acrylic coating, so they wipe clean like a countertop would.  I have ruined all of my machine-washable tablecloths with stains.  Not only are these coated linens machine-washable, but a sponge works really well at getting food off.  They are Ah-MAY-zing and well worth the money.  My kids spill spaghetti sauce on them, and hours later I wipe them perfectly clean without a trace of stain.  I have Le Cluny place mats that can be found online here, and I have a Sylvie Jourdan tablecloth.  You can find them on eBay.

Bull Frog Marathon Mist:  We are super anal-retentive about sunscreen.  I have tried kid sunblock after kid sunblock, and my kids always seem to end up burned or splotchy at best.  But I recently bought this continuous spray SPF 50 sunscreen and it’s fabulous.  It is so easy to spray on evenly, soaks in without feeling greasy, and protects them like nothing else I’ve found.

Evita, the silver bullet

My minivan:  I rock a swagger wagon, and am proud of it.  I’ve named her Evita because she has liberated me.  There really is nothing else like it for utility and value.  You tell me what other vehicle can haul 8 people, allow you to take out all the seating and transport 5 X 8 sheets of drywall or a dining room table and six chairs (like we did), and tow a 3,500 pound boat, all while getting 20+ miles to the gallon.  On a day-to-day basis, it’s also awesome that I can leave my double and single stroller in it with the back row folded down and fit all 6 bags of groceries I buy at the same time.