Not long after I posted my review of Deceptively Delicious a reader brought to my attention the existence of another popular cookbook with an identical mission -- to sneak vegetables into children's food unawares. It's The Sneaky Chef,and the author Missy Chase Lapin has a pending lawsuit against Deceptively's author Jessica Seinfeld for stealing her idea.
It may be true that Seinfeld ripped her off, or it may be a case of two people coming up with the same idea at the same ripe time. The question for me isn’t who thought of it first (scores of parents over the generations have resorted to sneaking a bit of something into the mashed potatoes or muffin batter). The question for me is, which one does it better? If you're going to buy just one sneaking-mashed-vegetables book, which one should it be? After reading them both, I would recommend The Sneaky Chef.
The author has really done her homework and most of her advice is right on: find fruits and veggies your kids like "straight up" and serve them that way (Method Six, page 76); slowly incorporate more whole grains into the diet (Method Two, page 67); avoid frying (Method Seven).
Best of all, her purees actually sound yummy, with a touch of lemon juice and a wide variety of vegetables (the Green Puree, for example, includes broccoli, spinach, and peas). I actually want to whip them up and add them to meals, even in a not-sneaky way.
But still, the initial bewilderment that I had when reading Deceptively still hits me as I look through the recipes here. Are children really so resistant to eating any fruits and vegetables that a tablespoon of orange vegetables hidden in boxed macaroni and cheese is a triumph? Sneaky even excitedly proclaims on its cover, "Blueberries hidden in cupcakes!"
Blueberries? Really? Who needs to hide blueberries? I need to hide the fresh blueberries away from my son so he won't eat them all in one sitting.
But Lapin's personal story of mealtime struggle brought home to me just how hard it is to get some kids to eat healthy foods, and caused me to cheer for her when she finally hit upon stealth techniques that worked and brought her some relief. Hey, whatever it takes sometimes! More power to you, sneaky momma!