Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jessica Seinfeld Hawks Her Book, Deceptively Delicious, and it is…well, Deceptive and Completely & Utterly Ridiculous

Why completely and utterly ridiculous? Because Jerry’s wife wants me to spend a couple of precious hours a week, standing in front of the food processor in my bathrobe, cutting and prepping vegetables, steaming or roasting them, pureeing them into baby food and then, washing up all those dirty dishes (mind you, all this work and I haven’t even cooked a meal the family will eat yet) all so that when my kids turn their tiny, little, innocent, mommy-worshiping backs to me, I can squirt some bland, palate-numbing, over-processed beet puree into their cupcakes…is she high on crack?

This is possibly the most ludicrous celebrity/author advice on the book shelves today. What’s next?...Britney Spears is writing a parenting self-help book? Please.

As you can tell, I’ve got some things to unload. Here they are:

The Yummy Mummy’s Top 10 Reason’s Why Deceptively Delicious is Completely & Utterly Ridiculous

10. Hiding vegetables in your kid’s food is two steps away from reading their diary when they are at school or listening in on their phone conversations. It’s icky and as the title says, deceptive. I feel guilty enough about Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.That’s enough lying to my kids for one year.

9. Mrs. Seinfeld is, frankly, trying to bludgeon the joy right out of cooking. How can it be satisfying to cook great, fresh food and try creative recipes when you are shoving vegie puree into your kid’s chicken nuggets under the cloak of darkness? “Quick Jerry! Distract the children while I inject some more rutabaga puree into their tacos!” Cripes! Julia Child is rolling over in her grave…

8. In Jessica’s world, kid’s have an eating disorder that needs to be cured with secret food maneuvers and a “mother knows best” mentality. I have a better strategy – Let’s just treat our kids with respect, cook good food, eat it fresh and not cooked to death. And set a good example, make dinner time essential and fun and help them develop a palate that demands the very best. This way, when they are out in the world on their own 20 years from now, they can make better decisions for their own health and well-being. Oh! Oh! Wait! I couldn’t write a cookbook with that philosophy – There’s no gimmick! Okay, then, let’s go with that pureed vegetable thing again, it'll be easy to market and Oprah will love it!

7. Speaking of Oprah - The Oprah/Seinfeld ass-kissing love-fest is just weird. “You are so great, Oprah. No, you’re great, Jessica. No, it’s you - you’re the pretty one, Oprah. No, Jessica, you got it goin' on, girl! Aww shucks, Oprah, I don't have the words...but I have a lot of cash, so here’s $20,000 worth of shoes for letting me kiss your ass on TV…blaaach!

6. The whole “If Jessica can find the time to do this for her family, then, you in your measly, un-important, non-celebrity, boring, middle class life can do it, too" message is irritating. These “celebrity mom features” in magazines and on TV send a message that celebrity moms are busier, juggling more, have more important lives, have successfully overcome more obstacles and can do it all for themselves and their families and leave the rest of us wondering how they do it all and still fit into a size 2 yoga pant. Well, sisters – it’s all PR and it’s misleading and I’m not convinced that every Sunday night Jessica and Jerry are standing around in their fuzzy slippers pureeing the broccoli together and giving each other meaningful looks over the corn puree. Although I’m sure Guadalupe their Ecuadorian housekeeper has thrown a carrot or two into the old food processor.

5. Talking about processed food...First you steam it, puree it and then, inject it into some food and cook it again. By the time, the puree gets cooked up in the mac and cheese every last bit of fiber and vitamins and minerals have been pulverized out of it. If I have to go with overly-processed, nutrition-less food, I’ll take something more satisfying and hassle-free…like a Big Mac.

4. An author with the moniker “The Sneaky Chef” wrote this very same book (allegedly with better recipes, some very nutty people tested the recipes in both books and subjected it to a blind tasting with a group of kids). And it came out in April of this year. A few months before Mrs. Seinfeld's. Hmmmm….if it was such a great idea, why wasn’t The Sneaky Chef on Oprah? Oh! That’s right…her husband is a plumber, not a world famous TV Star. Right, that makes sense. Perhaps, The Sneaky Chef should marry up next time around. That might really help her book publishing career.

3. Your kids don’t like peas? Jessica's philosophy goes something like this, (I'm paraphrasing) “Mash those babies up and hide them in the flax seed fried chicken” (…or whatever she was prattling on about page after nauseating page). Here’s my theory: Kids don’t like peas (substitute any veg here) because many times their parents don’t like peas and not only are the parents loathe to serve the peas, but they wouldn’t know a good pea recipe if it jumped up and smacked them on the caboose. Most people think a good vegetable side dish is canned peas warmed up in the microwave with a pat of margarine and shot of Morton’s salt. Cook with fresh vegies, keep the cooking techniques light and simple and experiment a little. If you eat peas, your kids are more likely to think peas are cool, too.

2. Which brings me to tenacity….It takes a toddler something like trying a dish 10 times before they sometimes develop a taste for it. You have to keep putting different dishes in front of them, whether they bite or not. This will create the habit. Mrs. Seinfeld doesn’t believe in creating a habit. She would rather offer parents a short cut that is condescending to kids. Implicit in her message to children is the idea that they are stupid about food and these decisions should not be left to them. Not only is that uninspiring, it’s not the message I'm going to send to my kids.

1. Hiding veg in your kid’s food does not teach them to love and savor and enjoy food. It does not teach kids to enjoy gathering at the table. It does not teach them to try and experiment. It doesn’t develop their palates and make them healthy eaters. It’s a short cut and a quick answer to a more provocative and time and energy-consuming challenge. It makes cowardly eaters, not brave ones.

Okay, I’m done now…

xxooo YM



Izzy's Mama said...

Did you actually read that drivel? I couldn't even bear the thought of going near it. The worst thing is, there are plenty of people out there who will be believers. I have already heard them talking about it in the park and on other blogs. Do you think it was coincidental that the publication of her occurred during the same week of that Picky Eater story in the NYTimes?

It is such a shame that people buy into the belief that vegetables are something to be disguised rather than showcased.

Mary said...

Hi Yummy mummy, thanks for reading my post about this book. I really enjoyed your post too!

A lot of what you said is so true and I really had to balance whether or not all of the effort was worth it, and whether or not what she was saying in her book was true. I read the whole book before trying out the recipes, and would not review it until my kids had tried at least 3 of them.

The funny thing is that I actually had no idea that this was Jerry Seinfeld's wife before I read the book, I just didn't make the connection. As I was reading it then I realized who she was. I didn't watch the Oprah episode and didn't even know she was on until after because, well since 9/11 (all the interviews she did for ratings, in my opinion)I have really disliked Oprah and what she stands for and I do not watch her show on principle.

I also had thoughts of "Come one, your worth billions... do you really puree your own veggies?". My other concerns were the same as yours: Won't the veggies basically become worthless mush since they are being cooked twice? How am I going to foster good eating habits if I am hiding the fruits and veggies in their meals and not actually making them eat them?

Though I have my doubts as to how much of the work she and Jerry actually do, she seems pretty hands on from what i read in the cookbook. But really that is all the info i have to go on since I haven't really read/watched any of the post cookbook hysteria.

As far as the veggies, I am gong to try to add them at the last minute when i can to retain as much of the nutritional value as possible.

In her book she and the nutritionist do say that it's still vital to make sure that your kids have fruits and veg on their plate, they need to develop good eating habits whether you are being deceptive or not.

Fortunately for me my kids love fruits and veggies (my kids love broccoli!), but getting them to eat a healthy meal otherwise has been an ordeal. Somewhere along the lines i gave up because my husband is a picky eater too, and I was tired of making 3 different meals a night to suit everyone's tastes. I started relying on processed chicken nuggets and mac and cheese...and my 6 year old is suffering. My realistic hopes for this book was that someone made recipes geared towards children that taste good, and the hidden fruit/veg is just a bonus for me. Whether or not I actually continue to hide the veg (really I didn't, my 6 yr old knew they were in there the whole time) I'm not sure. I do like that there are at least 15 recipes in there that are healthy and low fat, taste good as far as I can see (I still need to experiment more) and will help me be more accountable for what i am putting in my children.

ALL OF THAT BEING SAID... I am a busy mom like anyone else and have a hard time finding healthy meals my kids will like as far as taste that don't require a culinary degree, and this led me to you! I'm excited to read more of your blog and get some GOOD recipes from a mom who is really cooking for their kids.

kitchenmage said...

I have been oddly fascinated by the hullabaloo surrounding the secret veggie sauce books and wanted to thank you for the rant. Especially point #1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Anonymous said...

I think all of you are missing the point. No one said that vegetables are meant to be hidden and not showcased. It's just that in the world we live in many parents give up trying to get their kids to eat vegetables because of the constant battles at the dinner table. This way, the kids are getting SOME nutrition, and it makes the parents feel better. I think you are reading much more into this cookbook than is necessary. If your kids like veggies, that's great. But for those parents that have kids that give them a hard time, this might work for them.

By the way, maybe you should have watched the Oprah show, then you would have known that she doesn't "cook" the veggies twice. They are steamed (which doesn't make the veggies lose their nutrients) and then the puree is ADDED to cooked foods.

Just because the Seinfeld's have money doesn't mean that she wouldn't spend the time to do this for her family. That is a very shallow thing to say.

If you don't like the book, don't read it!!

Anne Stesney said...

Actually, Anonymous, when you puree vegetables you break down the fiber, which is one of the most important nutrients kids need, and it's the one they don't get enough of these days.

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Kim. About the kids and food, about the book, and about the annoyingly "perfect" celebrity mom image that gets pushed on us, and the weird fact that THE EXACT SAME CONCEPT way earlier but was, er, overlooked.

You're my hero! Or heroine.

b said...

Hey YM...

Had 5 minutes of stolen time while I eat breakfast and had to quickly check out your latest blog entries. Wish I had to read them completely because I am laughing out loud. Will be back to comment when my baby is out of the woods. As of now, she still has her IV--at least it's here at home where she can rest.

Anonymous said...

I agree with mert.

For people who are used to just popping porcessed food into the microwave, I think that this book is a good non-threatening half-way step to actually doing things like even buying a squash for the first time.

The lying part, I don't get. Are we saying don't ask don't tell? My kids couldn't care less what's in the ingredients of whatever I cook. If they don't like it, it doesn't matter if it's made with sugar and sunshine or beets and calf liver. Either they like it or they don't. But maybe that's just my kids.

mama k said...

I so agree with #7! LOL

However, I don't get why people are hating on Ms. Seinfield just because her husband is famous. I also wonder how many people who are trashing the book, actually have read it.
My grandma used to shred zuchinni and mix them in cake and make the most delicious zuchinni bars. Adding veggies to dishes is not a new concept.

I cook whole/fresh foods at home. We avoid junk as much as possible. I was one of those moms that made a healthy first birthday cake for my son. I am not going to lie to my kid about what is in his food, but honestly he's 15 months old so he doesn't know what a squash is anyway.

Mostly, I really liked the cookbook as a resource for some fun, healthier versions of comfort foods DH and I enjoy.

I wrote more on my blog here:

Anonymous said...

As I was looking for reviews on Jessica Seinfeld's new book, I was so shocked at many (not all) of the extremely hateful blogs here and other places. For moms that seem so concerned about teaching your children to eat so well and never to hide veggies in your food...why do you then feed your children with such negative, spiteful and hateful judgments of other people just because they are famous and on television. Not a good example. And if you say you are not doing this "around" your children, then you are the deceptive one. My question to you is, why do you care? If someone else likes the book, if Jessica enjoyed making the book, if Oprah enjoyed visiting with her and learning something new - why is that bad?? That is not harming anyone. Do your children know everything in a recipe that you put there? Why is that really deceptive to not tell them exactly every ingredient in a recipe? All they care is if they like it. Deceptively Delicious is obviously just a play on words. Again, this is not hurting anyone - but what you are doing and saying is. It creates hate over something so trivial. Leave people alone and quit trying to cause and add such meanness and hatred in the world, ripping on other people for reasons that are just ridiculous. There are so many more important issues to deal with in the world. What a silly thing to speak so hateful about! Just let other people like it if they want to and if you don't want to then just don't do it. But give a real review of a book by reading it and trying it, not personally attacking it and those associated with it for such strange reasons!
Come On!

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is a very interesting debate. I've been using the Sneaky Chef book, and just heard about the Seinfeld one today. I'm somewhat torn on the matter, because in a perfect world, I'd like my child to eat masses of whole fruits and veggies.

But, as we all know, the world is not perfect, especially with a toddler. He has loved all the recipes I've tried so far, so it makes me feel like I can offer him whole veggies and fruits with a relaxed attitude. If he doesn't eat it until the 19th offering, I'm not stressed, because I know he's getting his nutrition elsewhere. Trying to force something under stress just does not work.

I'm thrilled that my child will happily munch a bowl of super porridge consisting of mixed whole grains, milk, dried and fresh fruit, brewers yeast, cod liver oil and chopped kale.

Anyhow, I wanted to address the fiber issue that annieknodes brought up. Little kids do not need that much fiber. Fiber speeds up digestion, and with that, foods are passed through without all the nutrients being utilized. Everything I've read advises against a high fiber diet for little children. I'm sure this changes at some point, but maybe around 8 or 10 years?


I loved your top ten list! Thanks for a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

I know the book has been out for quite a while but I just heard about it today. My major concern with hiding veggies in desserts and other "comfort foods" is that the children do not learn to eat veggies and then become obese adults who think that brownies, etc are ok to eat to overindulgence.