Fake It “Till You Make It

I was going to do another book review for this post, but I have been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to finish reading the book that I want to review. So I thought I would write about picky eating habits.

For a very long time, I have been a picky eater. I was the kid who sat at the table for long periods of time because I had not finished my green beans or peas or mashed potatoes. Yes, these were some of the things I did not like, and I would physically gag when I tried to swallow them down. Other foods that were also on the list included: salad, raw vegetables, peppers, onions, mushrooms, any form of potatoes except French fries, beans, nuts, apples, watermelon, and seafood. As I got older the list actually got smaller and now only includes: raw vegetables, mashed or baked potatoes, watermelon and seafood. That is right, I have learned to like and even love most of the other foods I formerly hated.

Then I got married. I think I may have married one of the pickiest eaters on the planet. Kevin does not like mushrooms, onions, peppers, peanuts or peanut butter, cheese (one food I have always loved), or vegetables like: cabbage, artichoke, asparagus and tomatoes. As I started cooking for our family, I found that I was really limited on what I could make that he would like. I also found that if I wanted to try out some recipe that called for anything on his dislike list, I had to make his separate and different. Now we have been married five and a half years, and I still struggle and get frustrated with finding meals to make for our family.

Then I had a son. I decided to make Camden’s baby food instead of buying jarred food. I bought all kinds of fresh and frozen vegetables for my son to eat. He started out eating everything. It seemed he would not be a picky eater, thankfully. But that was short –lived. When he started eating non-pureed food, he became pickier and pickier. I decided that I needed to make sure Camden got a well-balanced diet with plenty of vegetables (those are the foods he decided to be picky about), so I went back to pureed vegetables, only this time I mixed them in with our regular foods. One of the first pureed meals I made was a tomato soup that included sautéed onion and garlic, carrots and spinach. Camden loved it! And even Kevin liked it. After that, I realized that my blender and I could make meals with lots of vegetables that are not liked by my husband and son, and they would still eat them.

Meals that are easy to disguise vegetables in:
-Macaroni and Cheese – pureed cauliflower and shredded carrots
-Spaghetti – any vegetable that blends well with tomatoes
-Green Eggs – spinach
-Meat loaf – tomatoes, onions, spinach, carrots, etc.
-Chili – any vegetable that blends well with tomatoes
-Pizza – add vegetables to your pizza sauce or layer the pizza with spinach under the cheese
-Pancakes – mashed sweet potatoes or shredded zucchini


Veggie-Disguised Mac-n-Cheese with Optional Crumb Topping:

If your family is used to this recipe, you can gradually add more and more puree to taste, but start with a total of 1/2 cup.

  1. Steam a head of cauliflower florets and then puree (it roughly makes 1/2 – 3/4 cup of puree).  Do the same for about 6 carrots (peeled and diced).  Save extra (leftover) puree in the freezer  until you are ready to use it (thaw first).
  2. Cook a 16 oz package of your favorite mac n cheese pasta (use whole wheat if possible).  Drain and put back into the pan.
  3. In a separate pan, melt 2 T butter.  Add 1 c chicken broth and 1/4 c flour (as a thickener) on low, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Add 1.5 c milk, 2 c shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup of sour cream (optional) and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional).  Make sure to not burn the milk (or boil it over!).  You can also add 1 T Dijon mustard (optional), but since I am allergic to mustard, I avoid it.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the mixture to the pasta and mix well.
  5. Process (or use a blender) about 5 slices of bread (try to go healthy is you can), pulsing for a few seconds until you have large crumbs.  Add salt and pepper (to taste), a dash of parsley flakes, and 2.5 T of EVOO and mix.
  6. Transfer the pasta to a baking dish.  Add the bread crumb topping and bake on 400 degrees 15 minutes (or until golden brown).

I believe in the saying “fake it ‘til you make it.” Peas are one of the vegetables Camden has always liked, so they are eaten fairly regularly at our house. Peas have always been a vegetable I do not care for, but I want to be a good example for Camden, so I eat them with enthusiasm. Over time, the peas have been easier to swallow and I have found that I actually am starting to enjoy eating them. Sometimes, in order to like a food we need just keep eating it. I challenge you to eat something you do not like until you have learned to like it. And if you cannot bring yourself to do that, then try pureeing that food into a meal that you enjoy.

Photo credit

Speak Your Mind