A few years ago my husband and close friends realized two things when eating with me:
I stopped sharing my creations and just enjoyed them myself. Then one ordinary day while hanging out in the kitchen my husband complained that I was “holding out on him” when he discovered brownies I had made. I didn’t say anything but just passed the plate of brownies his way, gesturing for him to take one, and I went back to cleaning the kitchen. When I reached for another brownie myself the next day I knew there was going to be trouble - there was only one left (at least he saved me one, I guess?). The problem is, that meant he ate six brownies yesterday. Clearly there was a portion control issue, but more importantly – there was a fiber issue. You see, he had no clue that I replaced the flour with pureed black beans. It wasn’t my sneaky ingredient itself that caused his issues; it was the quantity he chose to consume. A few trips to the bathroom later, as well as a few years and lessons on portion control later, and we can all laugh about this.
I’m still sneaking in foods to fool friends & family, occasionally – but I do not do this if I do not know their food allergy history! New friends always get a full disclaimer on what is in my creations. So, if you have someone you want to fool coming up on April 1st or you just want to boost the nutrition of some familiar foods, here are a few of my go-to’s these days and who they might work for:
Fool: Black Beans
Recommended Consumer: Co-workers
Why the switch? Replace refined carbohydrates with fiber and protein but keep the decadent flavor.
Preparation Details: Black Bean Brownie recipe adapted from http://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-gluten-free-black-bean-brownies/)
Food: Macaroni and Cheese
Recommended Consumer: Toddler
Why the switch? Same creamy texture and rich taste but with less fat and more fiber and nutrients.
Preparation Details: Start with a box of whole wheat mac & cheese and cook noodles according to the package directions. While the noodles are draining, add ½-1 cup of pureed cauliflower (if using a white cheese) to the warm pot along with 2-4 Tbsp milk and the cheese packet. Mix until the cheese dissolves and you achieve your desired consistency (start with less veggies and work your way up to more!). Add the noodles back to the pot with the cheese sauce, toss to combine and serve.
Alternative: If you are using a yellow cheese, you can use pureed carrots, butternut squash or sweet potato in place of the cauliflower. I keep ½ cup portions of pureed veggies on hand in my freezer for quick veggie-filled meals!
Food: Ice Cream
Recommended Consumer: Partner or friend
Why the switch? Maintain the texture and mouth feel with no fat, less sugar and more fiber and vitamins.
Preparation Details: When you have bananas on the counter that are past your preferred ripeness, don’t throw them away! Peel them and store properly in the freezer. In a food processor or high-powered blender, simply add in frozen bananas and blend until they are the consistency of ice cream. Two medium bananas usually gives me 1 cup of ‘ice cream’. Top with crushed almonds , peanut butter, or mini chocolate chips and enjoy your fruit-filled frozen dessert!
Some simple swaps make it possible to fool someone and boost the nutrition of familiar foods – just remember to be transparent if food allergies are a possibility.
Do you have experience fooling with food? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
If you prefer to really fool with food, that may or may not be edible, check these out:
As you may have heard, August is Kids Eat Right Month™. Yes, today is also #NationalChocolateChipCookieDay and I’ll be sure to explain how these two can actually co-exist!
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, teacher or friend – our responsibility, as an adult, is to feed kids nutritious meals and give them proper tools to make healthful eating choices, which will benefit them now and as they grow into adults themselves. “Kids Eat Right” divides their information and resources into three focus areas and organizes it based on your role with kids so you can focus on what is right for you, right now. Just like adults – the foods that kids choose to eat and what foods are ‘right’ will not look the same for everyone and may change over time. Three Focus Areas:
Research shows that kids who are involved in the first two focus areas, shopping smart and cooking healthy, are more likely to follow-through with the third area of eating right.
Think about your current shopping and cooking routine….you do have some sort of routine for this, right ;)? Now – what are some ways that you can involve your kids? Remember – it will take a little longer and a LOT more patience but the ROI - from the laughs & memories to a lifetime of good eating habits – is WELL worth the investment. Ok, back to your routine. To start, I recommend changing your focus regarding the grocery trip or meal prep. If your current focus is to get the groceries as quickly as possible and escape the store without any embarrassing public displays by your kids, I can see why you may be hesitant to involve your kids in the process. However, the grocery store is a natural classroom and when you engage your children, they are excited to be a part of the process.
If you have ever run into me buying bell peppers with Luciana,
you would hear me saying things like:
Clearly this will make your trip a little longer and I highly recommend planning the experience when you know your kids are set up for success (i.e. not exhausted and not starving) and the store isn’t packed.
Tip: We all know snacks help pass the time and I don’t like to use food as a reward or a distraction – but I do love to encourage new foods. Can you pay for something before you begin and snack on it along the way? Does your store offer free fruit or cheese to kids? Don’t go right for the food, but incorporate it when it’s needed and make it part of the learning experience.
Fast forward through the challenging time of getting out of the store without something shiny that caught their eye to when all of the groceries are put away and you are ready to cook.
If possible, I like to get a head start on the prep while Luciana sleeps – it gives me time to get my game plan together and figure out what jobs I need to do and how she can help. In our house, if Luciana is awake and I head to my ‘prep station’ she will come running and drag her stool along with her because she knows it’s time to cook and “Lucci help”.
Let’s bring back our red peppers from the grocery store – while I’m doing things that are best left for an adult (i.e. using sharp knives, portioning raw meat, etc) I may ask Luciana to:
I touched on how to include kids in shopping smart and cooking healthy, don’t forget to include them in the meal and conversation. Encourage kids to talk about what they did to help prepare the meal with the rest of the family.
So, you get the importance of the Kids Eat Right Campaign and you want to promote quality nutrition for kids? Fantastic! But, don’t forget – kids are always watching….are you modeling the behavior you want to see in your kids? If so, you’ll be celebrating #NationalChocolateChipCookieDay by having just one small cookie, sharing a cookie with your kids, trying an allergen-friendly recipe, or making a recipe that uses less sugar and more whole grains than a traditional cookie, like these from the mastermind behind our month-long challenge. After all, it’s called “Kids Eat Right,” not “Kids Eat Unrealistically”
August is Kids Eat Right Month™, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Academy Foundation's chance to highlight the fight for our children's healthy future. Find out how you can get involved!
I'm a busy mom with a passion for sharing practical advice to help you live the healthy and balanced life you envision. Warning: the information is evidenced-based, but the delivery will often contain humor!