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Stealth health

Carob had its day. So did soy. Now comes the latest fad ingredient in the pantry of harried, health-conscious parents – deceit.

by: Christopher Noxon | 30 Jan 2008

It goes by other names, of course. Stealth health. Furtive nutrition. Cookbook authors Missy Chase Lapine and Jessica Seinfeld call it "loving deception."

Boil it all down and you've got the same basic recipe, one formulated to help parents get un-fried, un-sweetened, halfway-nutritious food into the mouths of children who, on principle, refuse to eat anything that looks like it grew from the ground.

If kids refuse to eat healthy stuff, why not just trick 'em?

That, in a nutshell, is the basis of Lapine's The Sneaky Chef and Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious, two cookbooks that detail how to hide vegetables and other healthy ingredients in foods kids actually like.

Chocolate chip-chickpea cookies, anyone? How about a grilled cheese-and-flax seed sandwich?

As unappetising as that might sound, parents are eating it up.

"Broccoli? No, it's a magic tree"

But while the food fight drags on, it's worth pointing out that when it comes to feeding children, neither Lapine nor Seinfeld is the true and original deceiver.

Parents have been making stuff up about what they feed their kids ever since an invisible choo choo train delivered a payload of pea-shaped coal into the mouth of our infant son.

"I've never once had to stay up late pureeing the night away," Seinfeld boasts. It's much less labour-intensive to pawn off the daily vitamin supplement as a "candy gummy bear."

"At our house, steamed asparagus spears are green rocket ships. I once successfully sold a plate of steamed broccoli and Parmesan cheese as magic trees with snow."

Of course many may find fault with such cheap trickery. Some parents will harrumph at the suggestion that they do anything more than plop down a sensible meal and starve out the whiners.

Those of a holistic bent may point out that blending vegetables into mush and serving them in cupcakes will deprive children of an honest affection for foods like zucchini, squash or kale. And ethical sticklers might suggest if parents lie about vegetables, kids may then question their credibility about more serious matters, like the tooth fairy.

To which you could say: when was the last time you ate kale?

Understandably there may be a few adults, and even a few kids, who actually enjoy the leafiest, earthiest, most health-giving veggies, but in most instances even the threat of starvation will fail to move the average, modern child to ingest anything a less florescent shade of green.

So if you want to sneak veggies into you're children's dinner, puree away. Now you just have to muster the energy to puree.

What do you think – is a little deceit in order to get your children to eat more vegetables.

- None


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