I disagree with the “clandestine operations” approach of Jessica Seinfeld. It’s great to sneak spinach into the brownies, but that’s no way to educate kids about healthy eating. Are you going to follow them to college to hide kale in the dorm food?
My friend, Dana, had a better approach and used to borrow or devise her own marketing gimmicks. Spinach linguine? It’s “Shrek spaghetti.” Chicken parmesan? “Pizza chicken.” Cornell University ran a whole study on this concept, and found that when they used such monikers as “X-Ray Vision Carrots,” “Power Punch Broccoli,” and “Silly Dilly Green Beans,” vegetable intake at schools rocketed up in some cases to 99%.
It turns out that food naming affects adults as well. Imagine dining out and seeing this on the menu: “Russet Potato Mousselin Infused with Organic Rhode Island Red Egg, Shaved Celery and Ground Mustard.” Sounds more appetizing than Cousin Barb’s Potato Salad, no?
In that spirit, here is my recipe for Pumpkin Cakies. Somehow the cake-cookie moniker, not exactly super clever, works on my kids. These cakies are whole grain, low sugar, and have both vegetable and fruit. Bake only as many cakies as will be eaten at the time, then cover the remainder of the batter in the fridge to bake the rest the following day. Kids are leftover snobs, and—they have a point—anything tastes better fresh out of the oven.
One thing to note is the small quantity of sweetener used. As discussed in a recent post on sugar in yogurt, we are desensitized to sweetness because of the over-sweetening of processed foods. (Did you know know that Heinz ketchup—one of the only “vegetables” that many American kids eat— is 80% sugar?) White sugar is implicated in so many health issues, is known to promote obesity and inflammation and significantly reduce immune function, and even worse, is an addictive substance. If you make only this adjustment to your nutritional profile this year, start looking at package labels for sugar. Each 4 grams is 1 teaspoon. You will be shocked at how many spoons you and your family are consuming daily and pleased at how easy it is to start dialing back your consumption, reclaiming your taste buds from agribusiness.
- 1 can canned pumpkin
- 1 banana, medium, mashed
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c sugar (or honey, maple syrup; go up to 1/3 c. if like sweeter)
- 1 t vanilla
- 1 t cinnamon
- nutmeg, dash
- 2 c flour, white whole wheat, whole wheat pastry flour, or any gluten-free blend
- ¼ t salt
- 1 t baking soda
- ¼ c oil
- ¼ c apple juice
- chocolate chips (just a few for the tops; optional)
- powdered sugar (for dusting the tops; optional)
Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then combine. Plop the batter into small mounds onto a sprayed cookie sheet (they expand, so not too big). They take about 12 minutes at 350F, depending on your oven. When they cool a bit, dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or push 2-3 chocolate chips into the top of each one. For grownups, they are good with morning coffee or as a snack.