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Like mother, like son
Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that my son is a picky eater. I don’t want to be too hard on him, because I was a picky eater when I was a kid too, and eventually I came around and started eating a wider variety of foods. I’m still picky compared to the other grown-ups around me, but I’m waaaay better than I used to be. Hell, it took me until my early twenties just to try avocados and blueberries. You couldn’t pay me as a kid to eat wheat bread, and now I love it. But at least I liked zucchini and salad and tomato sauce growing up. Jake puts me to shame. He would happily live his life consuming only white foods and never give it a second thought.
I used to think that the idea of sneaking healthy foods into kids’ diets was stupid. The way I saw it, that only kept them eating healthy until they were out on their own, without me around to sneak pureed veggies into mac & cheese or wheat germ into pizza. But I had completely blocked out my own food transformation. I grew up eating all of the crap I could get my hands on when it was available, but my tastes got more developed all on their own. What if, while I was in that totally crappy eating stage of my life, someone had sneaked in some nutrition? I surely would have benefited, even if I didn’t know it.
Still, I didn’t think it would matter with Jake. I didn’t think that adding pureed vegetable would fly with him. He doesn’t eat much that has more than one or two ingredients! The pasta has to be plain, with just butter and Parmesan. Rice has to be plain. Grilled cheese has to have yellow American and nothing else. He doesn’t like most recipes, where he can’t see absolutely everything in there. There’s just no opportunity for substitution or sneakiness.
White Whole Wheat
Then, on a visit to my mom’s house in Buffalo, Jake ate fluffy white sandwich bread from Wegman’s that was whole grain. I had never even heard of that before! My mom had bought it and given it to him without saying a word, and he ate it. I’ve been substituting some white whole wheat flour in some of the breads I make at home, and while The Ass has complained a bit, Jake happily eats it. Yay!
Which brings us to today. I went to a lunch hosted by Uncle Ben’s, where I got to try four of their new white whole grain rice varieties: plain, sweet tomato, taco, and broccoli & cheese. (There was also chicken flavor, but that one had chicken broth and fat in it so I couldn’t try it.) The broccoli & cheese was my favorite, with the taco flavored coming in a close second. Then we got to try out some recipes developed by Missy Chase Lapine, otherwise known as The Sneaky Chef, using the new Uncle Ben’s products. In fact, Nicole from Momtrends and I jumped at the chance to get up there and help her make some pizza rice balls, using the sweet tomato variety of whole grain white rice. They were really delicious. I would totally make them and eat them at home. But would the kids eat them?
Trying it out at home
I made the “white” rice tonight and crossed my fingers. Fiona tried it and liked it, although she wanted a little butter on it. The Ass tried it and liked it, he just wanted to add a little salt. But Jake? Oh Jakie.
Missy said something during the lunch today that describes Jake to a T: Kids eat with their eyes. Jake took one look at the rice and said “It’s wet.” I told him it wasn’t wet, it was just cooked differently than the white rice that he’s used to. He said it didn’t look like the white rice he likes from the Chinese place. He didn’t want to try it at all. I should have just let it go, but I begged him to just try a bite. Of course that was pointless because he had already decided that he didn’t like it. He took a miniscule bite and refused to eat any more.
I’ve heard many many times since becoming a mom that kids need to be exposed to a new taste up to ten times before they’ll even try it, let alone accept it or like it. I always thought they were talking about little kids, not an eight-year-old. But I think I’m just going to have to keep trying. I described the pizza rice balls to him and asked him if he would try those if I made them, and he said yes, he would try them. So that will be my next Uncle Ben’s experiment, and I’ll let you know how it goes.
In the mean time, here’s the pizza rice balls recipe. I’m also including the Shepherd’s Pie recipe, because even though I didn’t get to eat it (turkey), Stacy DeBroff from Mom Central loved that one.
Thanks to Uncle Ben’s for the fun lunch, and to Missy Chase Lapine for the great Sneaky Chef recipes! And a great tip: if you don’t have any of her orange-colored puree on hand, use baby food! Genius.
SNEAKY CHEF® PIZZA RICE BALLS
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
2 cups UNCLE BEN’S® WHOLE GRAIN WHITE RICE SWEET TOMATO, cooked
1 large egg
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano and/or basil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons Orange Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
1⁄4 cup wheat germ or oat bran, divided
Marinara sauce, for serving, optional
- Prepare UNCLE BEN’S® WHOLE GRAIN WHITE RICE SWEET TOMATO according to directions on package.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and generously spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Whisk together the egg, 1⁄4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, the spices, tomato paste, Orange Puree, and 2 tablespoons of the oat bran or wheat germ.
- Add cooked rice and mix well.
- Pour remaining Parmesan and oat bran/wheat germ onto a plate and set aside.
- Using damp hands, pinch off about 1 tablespoonful of the rice mixture and shape into small balls. Roll each ball in the oat bran or wheat germ and Parmesan mixture, coating fully.
- Gently place the rice balls on the prepared sheet; generously spray the tops of the balls with more cooking spray, and bake for 5 minutes.
- Using a spatula to loosen, turn the rice balls over, and then return them to the oven for another 5 minutes to brown on the other side. Serve with salt and pepper.
- Serve as a handheld side dish or dipped in marinara sauce (with additional added White or Orange Puree, of course!).
SNEAKY CHEF® MAKE-AHEAD RECIPE: ORANGE PUREE
Makes about 2 cups of puree
1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1. Place the carrots and sweet potatoes in a medium-sized pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, until carrots are very tender. Careful – if the carrots aren’t tender enough, they may leave telltale little nuggets of vegetables in recipes, which will reveal their presence to your kids—a gigantic no-no for The Sneaky Chef.
2. Drain the carrots and sweet potatoes and put them in the food processor with two tablespoons of water. Puree on high until smooth – no pieces of vegetables showing. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to smooth out the puree, but the less water, the better.
3. This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double it if you want to store mores. Orange Puree will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1⁄4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.
SHH! SHEPHERD’S PIE
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup White Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package UNCLE BEN’S® WHOLE GRAIN WHITE RICE BROCCOLI CHEDDAR, cooked
1 cup grated low-fat cheddar cheese
- Prepare UNCLE BEN’S® WHOLE GRAIN WHITE RICE BROCCOLI CHEDDAR according to directions on package.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a 7 1/2 x11-inch glass baking dish with oil
- Heat the oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or earthenware pot.
- Add the ground turkey, stirring to break it up, and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the ketchup, Worcester sauce, tomato paste, White Puree, salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Mix well.
- Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Transfer turkey mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread evenly across the bottom.
- Add cooked rice on top and spread evenly.
- Top with grated cheddar cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly on top.
SNEAKY CHEF® MAKE-AHEAD RECIPE: WHITE PUREE
This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double it if you want to store more. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1⁄4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.
2 cups cauliflower florets (about 1⁄2 a small head)
2 small to medium zucchini, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons water, if necessary
1. To prepare White Puree on the stovetop, pour about 2 inches of water into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Put a vegetable steamer basket into the pot, add the cauliflower, and steam for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Drain.
2.To prepare in microwave, place the cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with water, and microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain.
3. Meanwhile, place the raw peeled zucchini with the lemon juice in your food processor and pulse a few times. Next add the cooked cauliflower and 1 tablespoon of water to the food processor (work in batches if necessary) and puree on high until smooth. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water make a smooth puree, but the less water, the better.
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 2. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and the NYC Moms Blog.