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In praise of food conspiracies

Submitted by on Friday, 23 January 2009 No Comment

Yes, I trick my kids.

I shamelessly spike marinara with spinach and proudly bill whole-wheat banana muffins as cupcakes. Big Guy won’t touch banana or spinach, but he gobbles both in their covert forms.

I also do everything I can to cajole Big Guy in particular -  Boots generally will eat anything that doesn’t bit back – to try new foods, and I was tweaked about that recently, too, when I told someone that I needed to make a sticker chart to motivate him.

“Why a chart? Why not tell him good food will help him grow strong muscles?”

Gosh, I wish I’d thought of that.

In fact, I had thought of it, but the concept’s a little esoteric for this particular 5-year-old. I used the “big and strong and smart” line until he pointed out that he’s growing without consuming a single green bean, thank you very much.

So I sneak, scurrying into dark corners of the kitchen to prepare more nutritious fare away from their prying eyes.

But any good plot needs at least two people to conspire, and I was lucky to find partners in crime recently. The result: Big Guy gulping down the zucchini he’d recently icked at.

Due to a strange occurrance – though “strange” and “this house” are redundant – we had a bumper crop of zucchini the likes of which usually is seen only when that one plant starts yielding dozens of squash in the summer.

I’d bought zucchini for a casserole, while, unbeknownst to me, Dad had bought some for bread.

I doubted Big Guy would eat either, so I hatched a plot.

That’s where Caryn at Cooking and Eating Through Texas and Madhuram at Eggless Cooking came in.

Caryn had posted a zucchini fries recipe back in the fall that I’d been dying to adapt. Madhuram’s chocolate-zucchini cake recipe popped into my inbox this week. Clearly, it was meant to be.

I furiously cut zucchini while the guys played and made the fries for dinner. Big Guy was sold when he saw me add Parmesan to the finished product – because everything tastes better with sprinkle cheese. Once he started eating, I sidled slowly over to the garbage to make sure the tell-tale green peel was buried deep enough that he wouldn’t discover it.

Dinner consumer – no, gulped – they ran for the Duplos while I resumed my covert zucchini campaign, this time grating for Madhuram’s cake.

Tragically, Big Guy came into the kitchen before I’d finished mixing the batter, but I distracted him by offering a few normally forbidden chocolate chips. But only a few – I casually mentioned that I needed the rest for the cake. He he he.

Just for good measure, I made him hold off until homework. It took roughly 3.6 seconds for the low-sugar, low-fat, loaded with zucchini and applesauce confection to disappear from his plate.

Granted, getting a kid to eat fries and chocolate cake is no major accomplishment. And I still attempt to get him to face vegetables head-on, though that seldom works. Maybe the sticker chart will help.

Wimpy? Maybe. But better in my mind than letting him live on rice and pizza until he decides vegetables aren’t poison.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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