"To sneak or not to sneak?"
That is the question.
Are you one of those parents that - just like Gwyneth Paltrow - sneak veggies into food your kids love?
Do you make chocolate brownies with hidden carrot and spinach, fudgy zucchini chocolate cookies, and sweet potato waffles?
Do you feel like you're winning at parenting every time you kiddo eats some veggies without knowing it?
I had a big argument (more like a lively discussion) about this with my sis the other night.
She’s all for sneaking and hiding veggies in her daughters’ food; with the results that the two ladies (aka the worst picky eaters that have ever existed in human history) spend most of their meals dissecting the food completely, before attempting to eat it.
They’ve become so suspicious, they don’t even try something that potentially might have been contaminated by a veggie.
What I was trying to explain to my sister is that kids are much more interested in how a food tastes than whether it’s good for them.
They crave foods high in sugar, salt, and fat, because they taste good and because they have an addictive quality.
Kids will always pick French fries over steamed broccoli — can you blame them?
They operate with immature decision-making abilities, they’re much more likely to think that if something tastes good, that’s what they should eat.
Pureeing veggies and slipping them in pizza or brownies is a dangerous business too. When your kid eventually finds out that you’ve been sneaking “stuff” into his food, you send the message that vegetables taste so bad they need to be disguised.
I’m more for promotìng vegetables on their own, and showing your kids that green, purple, orange or red veggies can actually taste good.
Take these meatballs for instance.
They are green as the Green Lantern, green as a clover, green as a leprechaun jacket.
They taste so good though, you just need to convince your kid to take the first bite and I know for a fact that he’s going to love ‘em.
If he doesn’t, well it just means there are more for you to eat.
But seriously, these green chicken meatballs were such a hit, niece asked me the recipe because “I wanna learn to make ‘em!”
The herb-whipped feta paste is magnificent. I know it’s a strong word to use for a paste, but believe me it’s lick-the-plate-clean good.
Serves 6 (makes about 30 meatballs)
1 ½ lbs / 680 gr organic ground chicken
1 large free-range organic egg, lightly beaten
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 large handfuls fresh spinach
½ cup / 2 oz / 50 gr grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup / 1.8 oz / 50 gr almond meal (or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Creamed feta paste
3 ½ oz / 100 gr feta, broken into large chunks
¼ cup / 60 gr heavy cream (or crème fraîche)
2 handfuls cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 handful mint leaves
Fine grain sea salt
Place spinach in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
In a large bowl gently mix egg, onion, garlic, ground chicken, chopped spinach, Parmesan cheese, almond meal (or bread crumbs), lemon zest, chopped parsley, and salt until combined.
Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of chicken mixture and with dampened hands form into balls (you should get about 30) .
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large (preferably non-stick) skillet, over medium heat.
Add meatballs, and cook in batches, turning gently, until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes.
Creamed feta paste
To make the feta paste, put the feta, crème fraîche, cilantro, mint, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in the bowl of a small food processor and blitz for a couple of minutes, until a smooth, creamy paste forms. Keep in the fridge until needed.
One meatball “undressed” yields 50 calories, 3 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of protein.