Hide and Seek with Veggies in Sweets

Hide and seek with veggies in sweets!

In the past ten or so years many mothers and authors of cookbooks have discovered a secret. The secret, you ask? Camouflaging veggies and nutrient rich foods into a food fussy child’s diet! It is so simple once you learn little tricks and ways to balance out flavors: I have never met a kid who refuses fudge (even if the fudge happens to be full of avocado). But shhhhhhhhhh…. that is our little secret. In this month’s blog entry I will show you three ways to surprise your kids with a little veggie hide and seek!
I have mentioned before that my mother made sure I ate very healthy growing up. We bought all of our food from a co-op and the local farmers market; my mom would load up on the veggies. I never ended up sitting at the table all night because I wouldn’t eat my greens, but I did save that torturous event for last. Now that I am a mother I want to see my three year old not only enjoy the food I make, but also leave the table well-nourished. Luckily my son is a huge fan of any fruit you put in front of him! His diet actually mostly consists of fruit, but he is still a little finicky when I try to sneak in any produce. When I set out to find a way to ease him into a different mindset, I wound up surprised at how easy it could be!
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. What kid doesn’t love chocolate? I have to say I am still a lover of all kinds of chocolate, so when I heard about avocado fudge I was intrigued. Could I actually get my son to eat avocado for dessert? That answer turns out to be “YES!”; he was actually such a huge fan that I have to make sure to keep it up high in the fridge so he can’t eat it all in one sitting. The creamy texture of the avocado gives the fudge that perfect consistency, replicating if not improving the richness of any other fudge recipe. It isn’t just the avocado that drew me to this recipe; nutritious coconut oil is the binding agent. Studies have shown that coconut oil can aid our bodies in resisting viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. It also increases digestion in a way that helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins. A key to health-giving benefits from breast milk is Lauric Acid, which is also found in coconut oil. Your body converts it into monolaurin which helps keep the immune system up. So these little treats are packed full of good fats that can not only nourish the body but actually help prevent your little ones from ailments.

Avocado Fudge

½ a very ripe avocadoIMG_5469(3)
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate cut chunks
1 T coconut oil
*Garnish: sea salt and pistachio pieces

Mash the avocado and mix all the ingredients into a double boiler. Melt ingredients together while mixing constantly. Once combined remove the mixture from heat and pour it into a 5×5 pan coated with non-stick spray.

Place the pan in the refrigerator for about two or three hours or until solid. Once solid, cut and garnish with a little sea salt or pistachio pieces!

Parents like to pack their children’s lunches so we can make sure they are eating healthy away from home. A kid’s favorite part of the packed lunch is the sweet snack placed at the very bottom; as a parent I think we place the sweets at the bottom in hopes they eat something nutritious before they get to it. With this recipe, that worry is over! Sweet Potato Oatmeal Cookies are super dense in beta carotene, which especially in children raises the blood level of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of magnesium, a mineral known to aid relaxation as an anti-stress ingredient. What better to send your child to school with!

Sweet Potato Oat and Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 ½ c whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
1 t cinnamon
¾ c mashed baked sweet potato
1 c vegetable oil

1 c brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla
2 c oats
1 c dried cranberries
1 c chocolate chips                                           IMG_5329

In a medium mixing bowl sift the wheat flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together and set aside. Place the mashed sweet potato and the vegetable oil in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla to the food processor and pulse until combined. Pour the oats into the dry ingredients and mix. Combine the sweet potato mixture with the dry mixture until combined, and then fold in cranberries and chocolate chips.

Use a 2 oz. scoop and place the cookie dough on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Slightly press down on the tops of the cookies. Place the baking sheet in the oven at 350° for about ten minutes or until a skin forms on the outside of the cookie (no wet spots). Remove the sheets from the oven and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.

Does anyone know what originally made the red velvet cake red? I do, but it might not be as delicious as you might think. The colors in the mix came from a beetle: a Cochineal to be exact. These beetles are found in Central and South America and their crushed carcasses were and are used to produce red food dye. Yummy, right? If that authentic idea is a little off-putting, here is a more appetizing option featuring the nutrient-rich benefits of beets! Beets contain betatine, a mood elevator that keeps the kids happy and active. Even better, beets are packed full of vitamins and minerals, like iron, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A, B, and C to name a few. So next time you are thinking of making cupcakes for school, forget the food dyes and try a beet.

Red Velvet Beet Cupcakes

6 small roasted beets
¼ c canola oil
¾ c buttermilk
¼ c melted butter
1 t vanilla
4 eggs
2 ½ c flour
1 ½ c sugar
¾ c cocoa powder
1 ½ t baking powder
½ t baking soda
½ t saltIMG_0638

Roast the beets until you can stick a fork through them easily. Place the beets in your food processor and add canola oil, buttermilk, melted butter, vanilla, and eggs one by one and process until incorporated. Sift all the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix to incorporate.

Place baking cups in a cupcake pan and fill two thirds of the way full with cake batter. Bake at 350° for ten to fifteen minutes or until you can stick a toothpick in and have it come out clean. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting them.

Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz. cream cheese
½ c butter, softened
2 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 t vanilla
½ t lemon juice

Mix the cream cheese and butter together. Mix the powdered sugar in and let the ingredients mix for two minutes. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, let that mix for another two minutes and it is ready for frosting.