One of the great joys of parenthood comes in the act of surreptitiously sneaking healthful ingredients into a child's favorite foods. But there is one rule of thumb: it still has to taste good These chocolate chip cookies fill the bill (almost)!
By Larissa Phillips
A Little Sleight of Hand … Goes a Long Way
I was reminded of this the other day when I made chocolate chip cookies. My 6-year-old son took one look at the plate of piping hot cookies, fresh from the oven, and made a face.
"Oh man," he said sadly. "I hate that kind of cookie."
Perhaps I have been too heavy-handed with the flax meal and the ground pumpkin seeds. It took a while to convince him that I have changed my ways. As far as he was concerned, chocolate chip cookies were about as tasty as a loaf of lentils with bits of candy distributed throughout.
I've made other mistakes, too. A couple of years ago, I became obsessed with making a nutrient-dense tomato sauce for pizza and spaghetti. I would sauté some chopped onion in olive oil, and then add a few tablespoons of chopped zucchini or Swiss chard. When everything had softened, I would add canned tomatoes and let it cook down. My vegetable-averse son would eat his pizza or his pasta, having no idea that he was stocking up on vitamins and minerals.
What's in Season?
Spring is in the air, and the first bounty from this year's garden will be showing up in the markets soon. Look for snow peas - the flat, green pods with the peas barely showing - and fresh baby carrots. Serve them plain or with ranch dressing for dipping. After the bland tastes of winter, even picky children may perk up for fresh young vegetables.
The problem was, I couldn't leave it alone. I kept adding more and more. By the final go-around, I was using carrots, zucchini, kale and celery.
"Why is this tomato sauce green?" my son asked suspiciously, poking at his cappellini.
I looked at the sickly-colored sauce. "It's not green," I said defensively. But he wasn't having any of it - my lie, or my sauce. That was the end of spaghetti, with or without vegetables, for a long time.
These days I've lightened my hand. I am madly jealous of a friend of mine who can feed her children waffles made with ground nuts, wheat germ, flax seed and whole spelt flour. She doesn't even put syrup on them; her kids just eat them plain, like bagels. But my kids aren't like that.
I would be so happy if they would ask for things like brown rice croquettes and crumbly vegan cookies. But to get my kids to like my freaky health food tastes, I have to gain their trust first. Their picky palattes have long memories, and I can't keep helping them cross things off their lists.
So now I make spaghetti sauce with tomatoes (and maybe just a tiny bit of zucchini). My chocolate chip cookies are close to the classic, with sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. (OK, half the flour is whole wheat.) And on Sunday mornings I make real buttermilk pancakes (with only a tablespoon of flax-seed oil or ground seeds).
These new family favorites may not be quite as nutritious as I would like, but they are something else, something perhaps even more important than getting a full daily value of vitamin A in three bites: they are actually consumed and enjoyed. I'll take that over my healthful meal mistakes of the past.
Larissa Phillips is an award-winning writer, food lover and mother of two.
Recipe: Not Too Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies
For a treat that is less decadent, but still delicious, try these minor substitutions.
For a treat that is less decadent, but still delicious, I make minor substitutions, like using mostly whole-wheat flour and raw sugar. Grain-sweetened chocolate chips, like the ones made by Sunspire (www.sunspire.com), are another option. Not nearly as sweet, once they're in a cookie, so even my suspicious kids can't tell the difference.
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- Chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Combine softened butter and sugars in a mixing bowl. Cream until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
- In a separate bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt. Going in batches, add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture until completely mixed.
- Add chocolate chips.
- Spoon on to an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 9 to 11 minutes.