How to Trick Yourself into Eating Healthy Food

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 • Chicago, IL 60657

 

In a perfect world, countries would stop fighting, cars would emit rose-scented oxygen, and broccoli would taste like chocolate cake. Sadly, that's not the case. But there's always hope. Beachbody® may not be able to stop wars or global warming (yet), but we can certainly give you a few tips on getting your veggies to taste better. It's easier than you think.

Vegetables

There are a number of books on the subject of sneaking healthy foods into kids' meals, including a few The Sneaky Cheftitles and Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food. Basically, the same principles you'll find in these books apply to grown-ups. The only difference is your mind-set. Given that you're the one who'll be doing the cooking, you won't really be sneaking healthy foods into meals—you'll just be altering healthy foods to suit your tastes.

The goop

The gist of the Sneaky Chef and Jessica Seinfeld cookbooks is simply to steam veggies for 10 to 15 minutes, throw them in a blender or food processor with a couple of tablespoons of water, and puree them into a fine goop. Then you introduce the goop into foods that overwhelm its veggie-goop flavor. It's that easy.

Although the books offer a near-infinite variety of goops, I'm going to boil it down (so to speak) to two goops.

  • White goop. Most of the time, this is cauliflower, although some people throw a little zucchini in there. It's the most flavorless of the goops, and it's ideal to mix into anything with a cream- or cheese-based sauce, like pasta Alfredo or mac 'n' cheese.
  • Green GoopGreen goop. Anything green can go into green goop, but I find that broccoli and spinach work best. Green goop works well with red (or reddish) sauces, like chili, marinara, or pizza sauce. You can also throw a massive layer of green goop into lasagna or manicotti and have your dinner guests be none the wiser, yet all the healthier. I've never tried it in enchiladas, but I'm guessing it'll work there too.
  • Bonus pesto goop recipe! Pesto is incredibly easy to make from scratch and impresses the pants off of anyone who doesn't know how to make it. And the best thing about it is that its rich, complex flavor makes it easy to tweak, so you can sneak a little healthiness in the form of iron-packed spinach onto your unsuspecting dinner guests' plates.
    • 1-1/2 cups packed basil
    • 1-1/2 cups packed spinach
    • 1/3 cup grated or shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • 1/3 cup pine nuts
    • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

Directions: Mix ingredients into a paste with a food processor or blender. Done!

The split

White and Brown RiceIf you've eaten enriched flour pasta and white rice your whole life, it's understandable that brown rice and whole wheat pasta would taste weird. After all, brown rice and whole wheat pastas have flavor!

The solution is simple. Make a 50/50 mix. It's half as healthy, but it also tastes half as different. Once you're used to that, cut the white out and go 100 percent brown. You'll never look back.

Bonus Split Tip! Next time you make mashed potatoes, go half potato/half yam or sweet potato. You'll be adding flavor, which means less need for salt and butter. Also, you'll be adding the fiber you're probably not getting enough of, especially if you don't like veggies.

Miscellaneous strategies

While all the stuff I've mentioned works great for fussy eaters young and old, keep in mind that at your age, techniques for sneaking healthy food into anyone's daily diet shouldn't always have to be so covert. Here are a few ideas that are slightly less sneaky but effective nonetheless. Do any or all of these and you'll be adding a very subtle taste to a strong, rich food.

  • Carrot JuiceCarrot juice in your apple juice. The former doesn't taste nearly as strong as the latter, but it packs a nutritional wallop that includes vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
  • Broccoli in your burger. Shred the broccoli florets and mix them into the meat. Yeah, you might still see them floating around, but after piling on the lettuce, onion, tomato, pickle, mustard, or whatever else you add, you're just not going to taste them.
  • Whole wheat French toast. Yes, this might change the texture, but who eats French toast for the toast part? Your taste buds will be so busy dancing with the fresh fruit and syrup you put on top, they won't have time to notice the nutritious, fiber-rich whole grains you're sneaking in.

No, we don't live in a perfect world. Pollution is a bummer, and there will probably always be countries that just can't seem to coexist on the same planet. But there's no reason why—with a little effort and a few tricks—nutritious and delicious can't live together happily on the same plate.