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Jessica Seinfeld & Deceptively Delicious

Has anyone try any of the recipes on this book? I am very very cusious. Can spinach brownie really still taste like brownies?

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  1. The whole idea of that book is silly to me, parents need to get on a program to get their kids to eat right without hiding it. On the other hand looking for new ways to use vegetables I am never opposed to. I have used applesauce to make brownies as a subsitute for sugar, good but not great.

    1. I just pureed some spinach, and I'm amazed by how good it tastes. No salt added either!

      1. As an adult who doesn't have to worry about cooking for kids, I rather have vegetable dishes not masked in flour and sugar. But I do think that purees can make things more moist and taste better, as well as add a nutritional value. So if you are going to have a cookie or brownie, may as well add a puree. My favorite hamburger has beets in it.

        1. Oh dear, not a good idea to fool with the truth if people are gonna put it into their bodies.
          I don't think you'd deceive a relative stranger (casual dinner guest) (might have allergies, religious convictions)--so don't deceive your very own child. Has anyone got the book? Are the hidden vegetable amounts significant? Are they put into otherwise unhealthy foods? Why teach kids that vegetables should be pureed and stirred into chocolate?
          Oprah knows better. It's hard to believe Jessica Seinfeld is so clueless.

          5 Replies
          1. re: BangorDin

            Seinfeld also said that she always put vegetables on the plate so the children don't think they don't have to eat vegetables, but she puts them in the food to supplement what the children eat. It's not a bad idea. I would think it gets them used to a certain taste, and as they get older and their palate expands, some of those vegetables will probably taste good and somewhat familiar to them I actually don't have any young kids but I hate vegetables and I'm thinking it might be a good idea for me.

            1. re: BangorDin

              I didn't see her on Oprah, and haven't seen the book, so this is only hearsay. I heard that a principle from the book was to serve the veggies as veggies alongside the "surprise." So they get used to seeing the "real veggies" and they get the nutrition on the days they're not letting the veggies pass their lips.

              And as the parent of the pickiest eaters a chowhound should never be inflicted with, I must say the premise is not a bad idea and in fact, I already "hide" veggies as spinach ravioli, pumpkin/carrot/zucchini muffins, etc. (I certainly ask my dinner guests about allergies or other food restrictions/aversions/preferences.) But with my kids who have no allergies and no religious restrictions and are just prejudiced against food outside their comfort zone, we keep trying a variety, and strongly encourage them to at least try everything on their plate (they're 5 and 3, so there's only a certain amount of reasoning we can do). And then they surprise us, which gives us hope for the future -- my 5yo's current favorite meats are chorizo and calamari, and the 3yo only eats chicken nuggets and calamari for meat. "Look! We got squid again!"

              1. re: momjamin

                The New York Times actually had an article about picky eaters yesterday, and it mentioned that many kids eat a variety of foods until they're 2, and then they suddenly stop. Researchers think this is an evolutionary thing which prevents toddlers from eating every new thing they encounter.


                1. re: momjamin

                  As a fellow chowhound also afflicted with a kid (7) who has a picky, impossibly unsophisticated palate despite my efforts, I agree with you momjamin. I think the idea behnd the book is not bad as long as the "real" veggies are served regularly too.

                  My issue is the preparation time - I work - and also that many of the recipes (from her bit on The Today Show - I haven't seen the book yet) appear to be fairly high in calories and while that isn't an issue for my child, I don't like the idea of using veggie infused normally "fattening foods" to get my child to eat more healthily.

                  And yes, my daughter also ate most everything until she was two.


                  1. re: momjamin

                    I realize tht this is a thread that is more than a year old, but let me give you hope.

                    My son refused to eat foods that touched each other. That included pizza (the cheese touched the sauce which touched the crust, etc.).

                    He also refused to eat anything green. He once threw up in a restaurant when I asked him to eat one bit of a green bean.

                    He is now a professional chef with a rather sophisticated palate.

                2. Okay, so no one had the reaction I had: I can't believe that zillionaire socialite Jessica Skar Seinfeld cooks for her kids, at least not on a regular basis!

                  1. Hmm--zillionaires probably do whatever they want to, which could include cooking for beloved zillionaire babies--but probably not cleaning kitchen and food processor.

                    1. While veg in a more original state would be the ideal, this is an idea with merit. I have cooked for people with severely compromised immune systems further complicated by meds messing with their taste buds. It is a challenge finding much of anything they can eat, let alone enjoy. This method is a great way to work a little more nutrition and variety into the diet. On a similar note,I have also juiced vegetables and used that to replace water in recipes when possible. While you loose the benefits of fiber, at least you are still getting more vitamins, etc. than plain water would have.

                      1. Er, why would anyone possibly care what Jessica Seinfeld has to say about getting kids to eat, or cooking in any form for that matter? Just what are her credentials besides being a mom?

                        Many of my friends and I are parents of small kids going through the same stages of trial, denial, and eating nothing but plain pasta for a week straight. Welcome to parenthood.

                        Trust yourself. You know best what's right for your child, not a celebrity-ette by marriage.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rockycat

                          Credentials of being a mom are pretty good credentials to me! I trust myself, but I listen to others and sometimes even learn from them.

                          Maybe the only difference between her and some posters here is the fact that she got her ideas published. I wouldn't discount her ideas merely because she's married to a celebrity. Any suggestions she may offer I would take with the same grain of salt I take with any of the strangers whose advice I read.

                          1. re: cackalackie

                            The fact is that even her publisher which rejected "The Sneaky Chef," admitted that a significant reason why they published the book was who the author is married to, not that she's a mom and therefore must know something. Yeah, that's right, a rich girl, married to a rich husband, who in all likelihood hardly ever cooks her kids' meals.

                        2. In this thread, http://www.chowhound.com/topics/395567 someone mentioned "The Sneaky Chef" which is pretty much the same concept as Seinfeld's book. It was published earlier this year. I read it. It had some interesting ideas, though the quantity of actual vegetable matter in the recipes was pretty low. However, better than nothing.

                          1. I don't care what you all think of her. This book is absolutely fabulous. I finally broke down and bought a food processor and tried some of her recipes. I made the Peanutbutter and Banana muffins and the chicken nuggets so far.

                            The muffins are the best muffin I ever made. And to reference the Elvis cake-very similar I must say. Of course I did add a few chocolate chips a la the Elvis cake. They gobbled them up! Carrots and bananas and whole wheat flour . Check!

                            I made the nuggets next. Now mind you, these are one of their favorites from the freezer section of the grocery store, full of additives and other scary stuff. I made in the past the tenderloins off the Bisquick box-I liked them, kids did not b/c they could see the chicken as a whole. These JS nuggets are ground up in the processor using real ingredients and breaded with Panko! Gobbled them up!

                            I feel like I really made something from scratch and they enjoyed it and that makes me feel good. So I don't care what people say, this book is changing the way I feed my picky eaters while turning me into a domestic diva (which I am far from being). I did grow up in a house where we did get pizza or fast food at least every other week. My mom was not the best cook unfortunately. But I grew up fine, normal weight and healthy. I am trying to learn how to be a better cook for my kids instead of relying on all the modern conveniences in the frozen section of the grocery store. Now I am sheepishly getting off my box.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: chocchipcookie

                              Hey, if it works for you and your family, then that is great. Congrats on finding something you enjoy doing and your little ones will eat.

                              Carrots and bananas in muffins seems logical to me. I can imagine how that might tatse good. For the life of me though, I still can't wrap my brain around brownies with spinach. If you get to that recipe, let us know what your kids think.

                              1. re: Honey Bee

                                I don't think I'll be trying the brownies either LOL-she says to let them cool before you eat them or you can detect the spinach flavor - never the twain shall meet in this house. I think I can sneak spinach in other things more suitable. I will let you know what other recipes work.

                                1. re: Honey Bee

                                  A friend served the brownies with spinach. They were interesting. You really couldn't taste or identify the spinach, and the chocolate was nicely intense. But the texture was odd -- kinda spongy. Some folks liked 'em, some thought they'd stick with classic brownies. She served them to a group of moms, but her kids had already tried them, and her veggie-phobic kid liked them fine.

                                  1. re: momjamin

                                    I made the brownies over Thanksgiving. You really, really cannot taste the spinach. Or the carrot. Not a single person could identify the "secret" ingredients! The texture was a bit chewy and not cakey -- probably because the brownies are made without butter and egg yolks (good for the heart conscious). I'm looking forward to trying more recipes!

                              2. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/08/nyr...

                                Looks like the gloves are off on the other end now. I don't know whether either books are any good, but Bully Boy Jerry needs to learn not to be so glib when attacking people's reputations, even if it is while defending your wife.

                                17 Replies
                                1. re: Phaedrus

                                  I'm just surprised that it has taken so long.

                                  1. re: Phaedrus

                                    Well, Missy wrote her book some time ago, and the resemblance between the two is, shall we say, "striking?"

                                    IMHO, no one would have paid much attention to the book, except Jessica is married to Jerry Seinfeld, so she hired a high powered publicist. She shoulda done a better job of hiding the plagiarism ......

                                    as a foodwriter who fights for gigs, I hope Missy cleans up.

                                    1. re: ChefJune

                                      Striking resemblance down to the drawn pictures on the cover. And I agree - I hope Missy cleans up. Jerry was a jerk for saying what he said - even in jest.

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        And while he said what he said in the same manner as he does his stand-up comedy, he was not joking, IMHO, and there was nothing funny about it. When I saw that outtake, I was shocked by his meanness.

                                      2. re: ChefJune

                                        At first, I paid no mind to the allegations. After all, us hounds copy and tweak recipes all the time, right? But, Missy's less glam cover of the booka nd Jessica's more polished version are pretty amazingly close. And, the Sneaky Chef title isn't as glam as the Deceptively Delicious title.Seems like Jess has version 2.0.

                                        I don't know if she exaclty 'stole' the idea. I mean - why on EARTH would she do that? She could have any endorsement or QVC product she wants!
                                        Jerry was wrong to be so rude about it. He seemed very elitist about it. It may not matter to the Seinfelds, but I'm sure that amount of money could really change Missy's life.

                                        I don't know what to think.

                                        1. re: stellamystar

                                          Unfortunately, it may be Jerry's big mouth that brought all of this on. Missy seemed to be quite gracious when this first happened and I believe she said she had no intent to pursue this legally, even though the two books are apparently so similar in design, recipe content and theme and even though Missy's book was rejected by the same publisher who soon after signed Jerry's wife and admitted her book got that second look because of her being Jerry's wife. Jerry didn't just make a few jokes, he got really, really nasty. Good luck to Missy.

                                          1. re: Shayna Madel

                                            Okay, just for grins, I'm going to take the devil's advocate position. Is it entirely possible that both authors have benefitted from Jessica Seinfeld's celebrity status? I just looked up both books on amazon. Deceptively Delicious is published by HarperCollins. The Sneaky Chef by Running Press, and it probably doesn't have the reach of HarperCollins and Missy may never had had this kind of publicity if Jessica didn't publish her version. So, instead of just blindly buying DD, now folks are aware of Sneaky Chef and can decide which of the two they prefer on their own merits. n fact, if you search for DD on amazon, the other one pops right up as well under the search results. There are a lot of narrowly focused books written by non-celebrities that get rejected by publishers all the time, and lots of books published by big & small publishing houses that never get enough PR to ever see the light of day.

                                            I'm just glad I get a choice this time.

                                            1. re: empfam

                                              Frankly I don't think Jessica Seinfeld stole the idea from Missy Chase Lapin. I believe I read that there was only a six month gap between publication of the two books, which is almost simultaneous in the publishing world. But I had a real problem with Jerry's incredibly mean-spirited attack on Missy -- he likened her to a mass murderer? Why? Because she dared point out the eerie similarities between the two books? It really is a case of class warfare where we plebeans get to see how the privileged few get to live. Jessica Seinfeld got her book published soley because of the publicity she could bring . They'd passed on MIssy's book previously. And the book was featured by Oprah because the Seinfields are big buddies (Jessica bought Oprah 20 Laboutin pairs of shoes as a thank you -- what's that? a half year's salary for most of us?). Missy couldn't get past Oprah's assistants despite the fact that -- in spite of what Jerry said -- she's a respected author. It's really a cautionary tale for us just folks and I hope MIssy prevails at least in some small way.

                                              1. re: empfam

                                                True, true - what is it's a scam by HarperCollins to gain more sales for BOTH books???
                                                Hmm..either way, I would like to make that weird spinach brownie recipe.

                                                1. re: stellamystar

                                                  Please read my other posting about this specific recipe. Its beyond bad......

                                                  1. re: meimei

                                                    Yep - it's pretty gross. One of the guys brought it into the office when his wife made it, and no one at their house would eat it. Needless to say, it hit the infamous circular file pretty quickly.

                                                    1. re: Suzy Q

                                                      Alison Stewart, one of the hosts of the NPR morning news show I listen to, The Bryant Park Project, made the spinach brownies from Seinfeld's book and had an on-air taste test. All concerned agreed that they were spectacularly nasty.

                                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                        WTF? If all these people are having problems with the stupid recipe and the recipe is gross, then why on earth was it touted so "innovative" and delicious! ?? Are any of the other recipes decent?
                                                        If you want your kids to eat spinach - make creamed spinach! Good lord.

                                                        1. re: stellamystar

                                                          It was touted as innovative and delicious because a large PR firm was hired to make sure it would be touted as such. What, you think they're going to tell the truth? "Hey, some trophy wife stole a cookbook. Get out there and put some lipstick on that pig!" (The book, not the wife.)

                                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                            Exactly, Barmy!

                                                            I just fail to see how this book is so innovative. My mom fed us zucchini bread, broccoli bread, carrot cake, etc. all the time when we were kids. She didn't even try to hide the fact that it had veggies in it!

                                                            Mmmm...now I'm craving some broccoli bread!

                                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                              I "get" the PR thing. It's ethical for me. I see it no differently then selling a broken product. I take my food seriously darn it! The thought of someone making one of my recipes and then going "GROSS!" is such a horrible thought. Oh well - money makes the world go around......

                                                        2. re: Suzy Q

                                                          For another opinion -- I made these brownies for Thanksgiving and had a blind taste test and very few adults could tell the difference. And my three-year-old niece LOVED them -- she kept grabbing them when her parents weren't looking. Don't get me wrong -- these will never fool a brownie connoisseur -- but for those who prefer to keep their saturated fat intake to a minimum they weren't bad... and I certainly didn't find them gross or "spectacularly nasty." Actually, I reviewed several of Deceptively Delicous's recipes on my blog. My favorite was the meatball soup.


                                          2. Last weekend's Wall Street Journal had article lambasting the approach of both books. The reliance on processed foods, 1/3 of the recipes in Seinfeld's book are desserts, the valid question of how hiding pureed veggies in food is ever going to open a child up to eating and getting used to actual vegetables on his plate.

                                            The author of the piece recommended cooking whole foods as often as your schedule allows, including the kids in meal prep, and talking to them about food. If the veggies are pureed,hidden and then never acknowledged, how are kids going to advance from that stage to one where they become used to seeing whole veggies prepared in different ways, some of which may be more appealing than others? Not every kid is going to like all veggies but through exposure and discussion, even a picky child will probably find he likes 1 or 2 veggies, prepared some specific way.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: swissgirl

                                              Well, not to mention it simply establishes a poor precedent. I mean, both books are basically saying "Lie to your kids." Don't see how that's healthy, in either sense of the word. Number one, it tells your kids "Foods that are good for you are disgusting and must be disguised," and that way lies broccoli topped with Campbell's cheddar soup concentrate. Number two, even in a small and meaningless way, it tells your kids that you can't be trusted, and that's not going to help you down the road on the important topics.

                                              1. re: swissgirl

                                                And the Boston Globe had a story today in their food section - and it looks like there's a 3rd author whose similar book came out in August 2006!



                                                And some tips on getting kids to eat veggies *without* doctoring the food:


                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  IIRC, even tho' the Sneaky Chef may have published the book within 6 months (upthread) of Mrs. Seinfeld, she's had a web site (www.thesneakychef.com) for much longer than that.

                                              2. Like jfood's feeling on most celebrities, please keep quiet and act. Very few have anything to say and when they do nine times out of ten it's inane gibberish. Now Jfood feels better.

                                                Wrt this nonsense, teaching children through deception is a bad precedent. Forcing children to eat something will force them to rebel when they have a chance. And Jerry, using his panache is dispicable.

                                                Jfood would never buy the book, never make a recipe from the book and never stoop to such deception with the little jfoods. Too many positive authors, positive cookbooks, positive ways to raise children and teach them the love of food preparation.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: jfood

                                                  I am not a Jessica Seinfeld apologist by any means. I think her behavior (all those shoes!) and Jerry's was tacky. I do not have kids and I love vegetables in every form. But, I have also purchased and cooked from Deceptively Delicious -- and I have actually discovered some good ideas from it.

                                                  -- The author actually does say that parents should serve vegetables ALONG with the vegetable-hidden foods.

                                                  --She does encourage parents to cook with their children. She feels children should get used to the idea that beet puree flavors their chocolate cake, or butternut squash is an essential ingredient to mac & cheese.

                                                  --I agree that recipes where spinach is hidden in brownies is odd and could be perceived as lying to your children. But what about the chocolate cupcake recipe in which avocado replaces butter? Many of my family members have heart disease and they sincerely appreciated these cupcakes.

                                                  --As a relatively healthy, 30-something woman, who is facing a genetic history of heart disease, I LIKE the ideas to include veggie purees in as many foods as possible. I eat LOTS of vegetables, but always feel like I could always be eating MORE. This book also has some good ideas on how to cut down saturated fat -- in macaroni and cheese, for example -- or simple starches, like mixing mashed potato with cauliflower puree.

                                                  -- The Seinfelds' behavior has been far from stellar. But I've seen a lot of criticism about this book -- and I wonder if the critics have even taken the time to look through the book and make a few recipes? I've gotten some good ideas from this book.

                                                  1. re: Cookingthebooks

                                                    I don't think anyone has a problem with making recipe substitutions for health reasons. We can all benefit from less butter, oil, fat, etc. in our lives. What I think the issue is with this book is the idea that it's a way to slip one past your kids by tricking them into ingesting veggies without teaching them the accompanying healthy eating habits. Hopefully this is not the case, but there could be parents out there who might back off on the battle of teaching kids to appreciate a diverse range of healthy foods because they feel like they're getting enough green veggies into their kids via the brownie vehicle. And how is that teaching a child good eating habits? The child could just think brownies are part of a "healthy" diet because hey, they ate 'em weekly as kids!

                                                2. I see many responses from many who haven't tried the recipes or who don't have children. My theory - you have to pick your battles. My three children, ages 6, 10 & 11 are all very different eaters, my oldest the pickiest.

                                                  I have prepared the nuggets, a hit with all three, the spaghetti & meatballs - varied results two loved the sauce and especially the meatballs, the third liked the sauce. The tacos were a hit with all three. The brownies didn't go uneaten, but they liked the boxed brands better. My six year old is the only one who eats pancakes and loved them first round, but ultimately said he likes the old kind better. I am struggling to keep him on track with the sweet potato version. I hope to find success with that because I loved the pancakes and my picky husband ate them too.

                                                  All in all anything I prepare from this book is better than some of the processed foods they were getting before, so I wil stick with it and reccomend it to others. I am in the process of writing a graduate article on this book/subject, so this site was also very helpful to me.

                                                  To all of those who responded negatively, life with children is about picking your battles, so if this is not a battle "area" for you great, but for many it is, so it's better to hide it than omit it!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: aclime1

                                                    What works for one parent won't always work for another. I have an average child - not too picky, but not a total Chowpuppy yet. Just don't let one food item on her plate touch another!

                                                    Here's my doctor's radical solution to her eating some veggies but not enough. Give her a Flintstone's vitamin! She eats her bell peppers, mushrooms and edamame and chews a Dino each AM. She still sees vegetables on her plate, tries and likes new ones every so often, and gets adequate nutrition.

                                                    I refuse to feed my family spinach brownies just because my kid declines the spinach salad with dinner.

                                                    Just one mom's solution.

                                                  2. I have been noticing this book popping up in every bookstore I ha-ve been to. It has been prominently displayed up front right by the traffic. Initially both books were displayed side by side at Borders but now Seinfeld's book has taken its place front and center. I doubt that was an accident. So, just goes to show, its not what you know but who you know, rather who you sleep with.

                                                    1. i wanted to try the recipe cause i love choc brownies but i watch my sweets intake, i didnt want to go to store to get carrots and spinach, but i had broccoli on hand so i used the broccoli instead, i pureed it, and i used all oat flour (grinded up my oats really fine)and no reg flour. I thought they were pretty good, they were moist, and not dry, you could not taste the broccoli or see it, my 12yr old son loved them. my husband and girls werent crazy about them, but they are very picky. they are a brownie i can make and not worry bout my girls and husband eating,

                                                      1. What amazes me is why hiding vegetables receives so much negative attention as "deception" when we have artificial preservatives, colors, added ingredients and all kinds of crap that are the real problems. If you have small kids (most that object to this approach, I can assure you, do not) this is a GREAT idea, and it isn't mutually exclusive with getting your children to eat "unconcealed" vegetables. I mean, if you feel guilty adding pureed squash to a quesadilla, then serve a side of squash with it! A parent doesn't have the time for a veggie battle every night - so as far as ensuring good nutrition goes, the puree principle really works. And as long as you taste first it doesn't require a cookbook.