Thursday, July 9, 2009

Eating Vegetables Never Tasted So Good!

A Book Review of Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.

I first heard of Deceptively Delicious a little over a year ago at a bridal shower where this book had been given as a gift. As the bride unveiled the charmingly classic cover, the room filled with shrieks of delight. “I hear that book is amazing,” one girl said. The bride obviously had heard the same and was very excited about the gift. I had not heard of the book at all, so when the unwrapping was all over I asked to take a look.

At first glance, vegetable purees, the “secret” method in Deceptively Delicious, looked like excessive work. But several months later, when I had some extra time on my hands, I remembered the book from the bridal shower and grew curious. Luckily, I found a copy from my library.

Before trying a single recipe, I leafed through Deceptively Delicious and read it nearly cover to cover. I was immediately impressed by Jessica’s upbeat approach to cooking and parenting. Overall, the abundant instruction and tips throughout the book are as encouraging and inventive as the recipes themselves are inviting. At the front of the book are basics in stocking and organizing a kitchen and instruction on making the vegetable purees. Although I was turned off by the idea of purees and how much prep-work they would involve, Jessica’s instructions were simple and easy to follow, and soon making purees became a fun game for both my husband and me.

All-in-all, my experience with Deceptively Delicious was a sincere success. I had to buy my own copy even before it was due at the library so I would not have to go a day without it! I have tried most of the recipes already and have not found a bad one yet. Surprisingly, the simplest ones have been the best. For myself, I have always been a big experimenter in the kitchen. Trying Jessica’s recipes has been a lot of fun, but I’ve found that mainly I take her puree suggestions and add them to the recipes I normally use for the things I usually eat, like my own French toast, muffins, scrambled eggs, banana bread, pancakes, coffee cake, oatmeal, meatballs, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, beef stew, pizza, macaroni and cheese, pasta, burgers, quesadillas, potato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, baked potatoes, sloppy joes, tacos, and chili recipes (and she has even more suggestions than that!).

As far as the extra work involved with purees, making purees, following Jessica’s instructions, has taught me how to cook with many vegetables that I normally don’t use, like butternut squash and sweet potatoes. I loved Jessica’s idea of freezing purees. This allowed me to stock my freezer all at once. She recommends freezing portions in plastic bags according to what you need in your favorite recipes. I bypassed the guesswork by instead freezing purees in ice-trays. The average ice-tray section holds about 2 Tablespoons, or 1/8 Cup. I freeze the purees in ice trays, and then dump the frozen puree cubes into a labeled freezer bag. For me, it’s a lot easier to grab as many cubes as I need rather than fretting that I have to defrost a ½ Cup bag of puree when I only need ¼ Cup. Additionally, if you need it, making vegetable purees to cook with will also make you homemade baby food at the same time!

The one thing that I felt like the book was lacking was nutrition facts for the recipes, but the only recipe book I have that does that is Better Homes and Garden. There are pictures for most of the recipes, which I found very inviting and helpful.

Another author who uses vegetable purees in her recipes is Missy Lapine, the Sneaky Chef. I have looked over the Sneaky Chef books, and I really like them too. They are full of more great ideas about cooking healthy food. The design and enthusiastically optimistic tone of Deceptively Delicious were what appealed to me over the Sneaky Chef, but both authors have great contributions. Seinfeld’s book is more geared towards parenting, and Lapine has books for cooking for your husbands and cooking for kids. Seinfeld mostly uses vegetable purees, with a few other suggestions of healthier ingredients, while Lapine encourages the use of wheat flour, flax seed, and other healthy ingredients in addition to vegetables. The Sneaky Chef’s program involves make-ahead puree mixes of several vegetables a time. Deceptively Delicious’ puree suggestions are simpler, but Lapine has a much more helpful website and blog.

I get so excited about any new cooking technique that makes my meal healthier. Deceptively Delicious and the Sneaky Chef’s books have a big success for me and my family. Eating a Deceptively Delicious or Sneaky meal, or just adding one of its puree suggestions to a recipe I already regularly use, gives me a satisfied feeling. In the back of my mind, I’m saying to myself, “This tastes so good, and is way better for me than I think!”

No comments: