Last year, sneaky cookbooks were all the rage. The basic premise is to make your own vegetable or fruit purees and hide them in foods to give them an extra nutritional boost. While I love the concept, as a work-outside-the-home mom, I rarely find time to make elaborate meals much less time to also make vegetable purees. But I still hide stuff in my kids’ food. And my food. And my husband’s food. I just take shortcuts.
My three favorite places to hide foods are in muffins, smoothies, and mac and cheese.
My favorite sneaky breakfast is muffins. They require no preparation on hectic mornings and can be filled with hidden boosters. I throw a few tablespoons of ground flaxseed to add extra fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. I smash up ripe bananas to add moistness. During summer, I finely grate zucchini and squash and mix that in as well. When we had oodles of leftover baby food, I poured those right into the mix – everything from carrots to pears to spinach.
Making muffins doesn’t even require a lot of baking skill. On hectic weeks, I buy Trader Joe’s banana bread mix, throw in all my extras, and bake into muffins.
Smoothies can also be healthy. I freeze fruit all summer when it’s in season and on sale. First create a fruit and yogurt smoothie you like. Then add in small amounts of ground flaxseeds, pureed baby food, protein powder, and other boosters to taste. You would be suprised how much you can boost a smoothie without losing flavor.
Mac and cheese is a great place to hide pureed squashes. On hectic weeks, I buy Annie’s Organic mac and cheese and throw in baby food. Now that it’s the holiday season, Trader Joe’s is selling organic canned pureed pumpkin, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. I’ll be stocking my pantry with these inexpensive, labor-saving boosters to use all year.
While I’m still a firm believer in offering a variety of fruits and vegetables to my family, I also love being able to easily get some of the 5-a-day in comfort foods like muffins, smoothies and mac and cheese. This morning, my boys wolfed down some organic whole wheat pumpkin banana flaxseed muffins and asked for more.