Book Review: Deceptively Delicious

Photo of a stack of red-tinted pancakes sitting on a plate.

  1. Dirt tastes bad.
  2. Beets taste like dirt.
  3. Beet-blueberry pancakes taste great if you’re a 5-year-old who has never tasted dirt. Yumm!

Yes, that’s right, we bought Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld. My daughter now enjoys beet pancakes.

The flapjacks pictured above are classified as “Pink Pancakes” in the cookbook, but the book’s photo doesn’t look quite so pink. My wife is a bit generous with the beets.

Be forewarned. If your kids don’t like eating food the normal way, the deceptive way is a lot of work.

Step 1.  Buy a food processor or a Magic Bullet blender.

Step 2.  Purée vegetables. Lots of vegetables. Doing it every day kind of sucks, so portion the veggie goo out and freeze individual Ziploc bags.

Step 3. Deploy the recipes telling no one what’s in the food.

All of these steps are discussed in the book. Except, in our case our daughter helped Mom prepare the meals and Dad was the one eating blind.

We’ve also made:

  1. Chocolate pudding (avocado). My daughter loved it.
  2. Macaroni and cheese (squash/cauliflower or beans). The bean version was indistinguishable from regular Mac & Cheese.
  3. Rice Balls (rice, chicken, sweet potato and cheddar ground into a breaded ball). It actually tastes okay, a little reminiscent of a chicken nugget, but cheesy. Our daughter turned on us though, disliking it because she knows thinks she hates sweet potato.

In the cookbook you’ll find 12 breakfast recipes, 39 regular meals and 25 desserts. Each recipe is accompanied by a full-page color photo that every self-respecting cookbook offers. Seriously, why don’t more cookbooks show you what you’re making?

The one thing missing from Deceptive Delicious is nutrition information for food as made. For example, 1/4th cup of beets for pink pancakes goes into four pancake servings. Meanwhile, a generic vegetable serving for a child is 1.5 to 2.5 cups. Break down for us up front how much of a serving each recipe offers.

It would also be nice to have a calorie, fat, carbohydrate and fiber breakdown for each recipe for those who know how to utilize the information.

The sad aspect of this cookbook is that it places one more layer of lies on your child. Santa Claus. The Easter Bunny. Cauliflower in mashed potatoes.

When your kids grow up and head off to college, the extent of your deception will be thrown wide open once they eat at the cafeteria. It’s the sort of mind-blowing revelation that can only be soothed by a bigger disclosure. So be prepared to tell your kids they are adopted, even if they aren’t.

See: Deceptively


18 Responses to “Book Review: Deceptively Delicious”

  1. Jeanne says:

    :) My husband says they taste like dirt, and I’ve never heard anyone else say that. Maybe, like me, your daughter actually just likes beets.

    As our kids turn 1, my moms group and I have been discussing this book. We want our kids to like “growing food” and not need it to be hidden, but it seems like a great idea to add veggies to something sweet to make it a little healthier. You still keep treats to a minimum, but improve them a little.

    September 14th, 2009 at 3:30 am

  2. june says:

    Aw, I love beets, and cauliflower, and beans, and squash…and especially sweet potato. And so does my 3 year old. :)

    I guess I’d say the book is great for making junk food slightly less junky, if you’re going to eat it anyway. But we’re talking about a tiny amount of veggies. And I hate to imagine a child who is never given the opportunity to learn to like veggies because they are always hidden.

    September 14th, 2009 at 5:45 am

  3. Jennifer says:

    I have a problem with hiding vegetables into food. Now, teaching children ways to eat healthier, and if that means adding vegetables to recipes that wouldn’t typically have them, that’s okay.

    But I am HUGE on offering the healthy things over and over and over again and the “sometimes foods” just that…as TREATS!

    September 14th, 2009 at 6:44 am

  4. adrienne says:

    AJ, you hit upon my primary complaint with the book. 1/16th cup per serving? That’s 1 TBSP pre-cooked weight. Pathetic nutritional improvement achieved with oodles of extra work.

    Plus, my son isn’t a big eater. He’s far more likely to eat something if he helps make it. That’s beyond awesome for me, and I’d hate to sabotage it by trying to keep silly food secrets.

    September 14th, 2009 at 7:46 am

  5. Shannon says:

    I think that we, as parents, all hope to teach our children to eat and enjoy vegetables, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen the way we envision it. So I think that hiding them in foods would be a decent solution — at least better than having them not eat any veggies at all. I do agree that it’s unfortunate that it lacks nutiritonal information though, and that veggie content is so low.

    Further, there’s a good chance that if a veggie-eating baby begins refusing them as a toddler or young child, it’s really just a defiant phase and they’ll grow out of it eventually. Why not hide the veggies in their food in the meantime, until they’re willing to accept them up front?

    September 14th, 2009 at 8:54 am

  6. Kelly says:

    One of the things that maybe is not impressed by the book, but was by the author when it came out, was that she wasn’t hiding veggies in the food in exclusion of putting them on the plate. I seem to recall that her point was that the veggies on the plate became a fight every night, by hiding them in food and continuing to include them on the plate it then becomes the child’s choice to eat them and less of a control issue.

    September 14th, 2009 at 9:37 am

  7. Kimberly says:

    We have the book. I have 21 month old. I often make the breakfast things because he’s goes in and out of wanting to eat (healthy or not).

    I think one of the things she says she does in the book is still has the veggies on the dinner plate in hopes that her kids will eat them on their own…. but if they don’t she know that the regular meals she is preparing is also helping them get there veggies. I think that is a good think.

    I don’t think I touched a veggie as a kid, without being bribed, until I was a teenager.

    September 14th, 2009 at 10:02 am

  8. Victoria says:

    My step daughter is a very picky eater and one of her relatives tried this and didn’t pull it off successfully. It made things much worse as she became suspicious of dishes she used to love.
    I don’t recommend trying to deceive with food. Trying new recipes with your kids though is always a good idea. The more stuff you put in front of them, the more stuff they might like. Cooking and eating should be a fun adventure whenever possible.

    September 14th, 2009 at 10:17 am

  9. Amber says:

    Once when I was in school, our tech ed teacher (it should’ve just been called ag ed), who was a farmer, offered to do a hamburger cookout for us on the last day of school.

    There we were, munching away on our hamburgers, when he suddenly announced with great flourish that they weren’t, in fact, beef.

    They were made of lamb. His lambs he’d had processed.

    Many of us girls were fuming. I myself don’t eat much meat, but hamburger and chicken. I wasn’t really thrilled to be eating a baby ANYTHING, but beyond that there was a girl in our class for whom lamb was a migraine trigger (weird). Plus, we didn’t like being deceived.

    He brushed off our anger, saying “You didn’t even know it wasn’t beef until I told you.” As if that mattered.

    Would you like to eat something without knowing what it is?

    Don’t lie to your kids. They deserve as much respect as you’d like to receive.

    September 14th, 2009 at 4:09 pm

  10. Brenna says:

    I actually have the book too. I have yet to make a recipe out of it, but maybe one of these days I’ll get around to it.

    I bought it, not to really deceive my kids, but just get tips to add even MORE veggies to our diets or make foods slightly healthier by adding veggies. My kids are great veggie eaters and we never hide anything in their food. We think it’s important for them to know all about healthy eating and let them participate in choosing veggies at the store and cooking with them at home.

    I think they might like the pink pancakes, have to give them a try!

    September 14th, 2009 at 4:34 pm

  11. Kimberly says:

    Just to add, I don’t think you need to deceive your child to use this book. It is just preparing foods healthier and since mine is just a toddler he doesn’t know any better.

    We add spinach to tons of stuff and when he’s old enough to be a part of the process it will be what it is. Just how we prepare the dish.

    September 14th, 2009 at 7:48 pm

  12. Kara says:

    Hmm, avocado chocolate pudding sounds promising. My kid eats veggies without me having to hide them from him so I’m not interested in hiding them small pureed amounts in other foods. But avocado doesn’t require any processing and it’s very nutrient dense and making chocolate pudding with it would solve that “I don’t want to eat this it’s slightly brown on the edges problem we have with avocados and my 5 year old. Might be good in his lunch box.

    September 15th, 2009 at 7:35 am

  13. Christy says:

    We really enjoy the Chicken Nugget recipe in this book.

    And to be honest, I didn’t mind many of the other recipes either. If they didn’t require so much prep work (pureeing took me a whole afternoon a week) I’m sure we’d prepare many more of the dishes! I actually put pureed pumpkin or sweet potato in with my mac and cheese each time now. Even the box variety!

    September 15th, 2009 at 9:18 am

  14. buzz says:

    I have a problem with this book top to bottom.
    Sure they’re eating beets and zucchini in their chocolate cake, but how much chocolate has to go into it to disguise the beet and zucchini?

    Just let your kids grow up dipping their cucumbers in ketchup, their carrots in mustard and experimenting and playing on their own.

    Vegetables are good and fun and healthy, not secret cloak-and-dagger spies in your food.

    September 16th, 2009 at 6:19 pm

  15. Mary says:

    What is the average prep and cook time for the recipes in the book? We have a hard time finding healthy recipes that don’t take a whole lot of time. I get home around 6:00pm and if it takes longer than 30 minutes, we’re eating really late.

    September 16th, 2009 at 8:40 pm

  16. gertie says:

    I’ve heard of this book before, but I’m more interested now that I’ve read your review. I will probably buy this book now.

    I wouldn’t worry about they lying aspect. You just make a dish, put it in front of your kid, and give it a cool name. I don’t think you are morally obligated to disclose all vegetable contents. After all, it can’t be worse than putting some processed thing in front of them without mentioning “this contains high fructose corn syrup”, right?

    Hopefully, you will be transitioning to regular preparations looooong before they are headed off to college. I figured this was a toddler/preschooler strategy.

    My only point of confusion is: how have you managed to raise a child who has never eaten dirt?

    September 16th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

  17. Jed G says:

    Oh, but in general chocolate zucchini cake is awesome! I’ve never heard of this cookbook, but we end up using zucchini in just about any way you can think of during most of August – my wife even made a chocolate zucchini wedding cake (and the truth started going around the reception sort of like a rumor – it was great fun). We’ve got a ‘hidden zucchini’ pesto pasta dish mostly for our tastes, as it does get tiresome after a while….

    A quick pureeing tip (we make our own infant/1st foods too) – make big batches and freeze aliquots in ice cube trays (lined with plastic wrap if necessary to get the cubes out). Then you essentially have pre-measured cubes, and that part of the prep work is taken care of.

    Generically I have a bit of a problem with hiding veggies, but I also understand the frustration of trying to get a toddler to eat [anything in particular]. Because of that, we look at nutrition on a weekly basis, rather than a per-meal or per-day thing.

    September 20th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

  18. observer says:

    this book sounds like a good idea if you have a really picky eater and can’t get them to eat their veggies for anything. but for kids who like to know what is in their food….well you have got a problem.

    January 13th, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Post a comment

(will not be published)