Saturday, November 10, 2007

Devious Aunty Sara

**warning, kid-centric post follows (also chocolate cake)**

OMG, what is it with 2 year olds these days? When I learned I had a niece coming along, I had grandiose and naive ideas about helping to raise an eco-child that would be trained to love healthy food and never watch tv. Maybe that would work if the whole family lived in a hippie commune or in some advanced sci-fi society, but I should have figured that I was on the losing side of the battle when one of her first words was 'choklit'.

I've tried to keep up my end of things but everyone has their limit. What, I mean, what am I supposed to do when I've denied the girl a biscuit, and she is sitting quietly sobbing and saying to herself 'biscuit, my biscuit *sniff*, my little biscuit'.... ?? And then, when I go over to offer a hug (and a banana) she puts up her hand in the 'stop' position before I get that far and says clearly 'no aunty Sara, you are hurting me! It's not ok'. Where's the instruction book for these things?

At daycare they learn a lot of things that were not common when I was little. They live in a scarier world and very early learn to voice any abuse with the words 'It's not ok', 'don't touch me' and 'you are hurting me' in their very loudest voice (and that's pretty freakin' loud). They practice it. I'm glad she knows this and hope that she never needs to use it on anything more painful than biscuit deprivation or being put back in her own bed, but sheeeesh...

Miss J gets plenty of exposure to healthy food every day. There is even a new policy at the daycare of no junkfood - they are not even allowed birthday cakes anymore. She has a plate of veges put in front of her every evening but, like every child, she is asserting her likes and dislikes. Currently she likes the two food items below and prefers to eat them to the exclusion of everything else, if possible. At least it's a 'smart' cookie. It has some Omega 3's and is lower in fat and salt. No veges in there though!

Inspired by Skwiggs recent post on sneaky veges, I've decided to take a devious and non-violent approach to getting some veges into the girl. Actually I am in favour of this approach with adults too. You don't know that you are eating 'health food', you just know you are eating something yummy. This is a far better way to eat well than the 'hold your nose and get it down 'cos it's good for you' attitude.

Today we made our first, unbelievably messy, foray into healthy treats (ever had a toddler helping out in the kitchen? it's a whole new level of sensory involvement). The chocolate cake - pictured for your viewing gratification at the start of this post- is not exactly 'health food' per se but it's a 'healthier' option for a girl that only wants cakes. I remembered when I was vegan, we used to make a really delicious chocolate cake that had grated beetroot in it. I went googling for for a recipe and found this cake on the Limes and Lycopenes site and it seemed to be what I was looking for.

I made a few adjustments, for a start I only made half the recipe then used rice flour instead of wheat, used a bit more beetroot and subbed applesauce for half the oil to make it a bit lower in fat. I didn't bother with the glaze but just grated a little dark chocolate over the top.
Not only did the 2 year old eat a piece and ask for more, but I got my sister to try some and agree it was great before I just had to blab about the ingredients (at which point she couldn't eat any more due to psychological aversion to tofu and beets and rice-flour). The real trick is to just not tell anyone what the ingredients are, even if they ask, because they would never guess. Of course, I get stupidly excited about hiding healthy ingredients in yummy stuff and can hardly stop myself. After the 'would you like some cake?' I have to practically slap my hand over my mouth to stop myself blurting 'it's got beetroot in it!'


  1. The niece may grow out of her cookies and yoghurt phase by the time she's about 14...if you're lucky.

    I'm more devious than you. I NEVER spill the beans on what's in my delicious treats. When someone asks, I wave my hand and vaguely mutter something about "oh, you know...eggs and cocoa, flour ...." then change the subject FAST.

    I'm so making that cake!

  2. BRILLIANT! Keep the recipes coming... you're a GENIUS! Also, sneaky. I like that. :)

  3. Anonymous3:23 am

    Sara, You would love "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfelds wife) featured on Oprah a few days ago - it's a book about hiding healthy foods in recipies. She even hides pureed spinach etc in brownies - called death row brownies by Jerry as they are so good. Just thought I'd mention it after reading your post.

    Best wishes, Kate.

  4. That is hilarious... I don't think I could stop myself from giggling about beetroot as they were mmmmming and aaaahing over it!

    Any ideas on how to make... Devon healthy? Our little niece just hogs the devon down. Even when offered 'gourmet' sausages, refused to eat them over those extra processed little party franks..uggh.
    Sometimes there's no hope...

  5. Oooo yes, I saw that book 'Deceptively Delicious'. That was the one that Skwigg was going on about (not that she 'goes on', but you know what I mean). Kek, you say by 14?? Puh, at that age I think prefered to live on mars bars or something, then again, I never had a devious Aunty Sara... every girl should have one. So, I'm a keeweee.. what is 'devon'?

  6. By the way, I felt stupidly proud of my cake photography. See how it's coming along? It's all in the lighting I feel...

  7. Hehe, yes sorry...the great divide and all that - um, Devon, how could i explain it in kiwi terms... aaaah, yes
    Luncheon meat (sorry, it's been 22 years since i lived in kiwiland)

  8. Yeah.. I dunno. Processed meat is just bad in so many ways, but we all eat it and kids seem to love it. Just balance up with lots of veges I suppose..

  9. Hmmm, very devious! I put puree's veges in the kids spagetti... they can't tell the difference !! Never thought of putting them in cake though!!!

  10. So I made the cake, except into tiny little mini muffins so that my 5 year old daughter could take them to school. Half the recipe made 4 dozen. So that's like 48 right. And she HATES them - she chewed it up then spat it in the toilet. Hmmmmmm. Mini muffin anyone?

  11. Pip, send them my way! I wonder if it didn't cook for long enough, being in the mini-muffins instead of a big cake? I imagine that it would maybe still taste a bit like veges if it was not properly cooked?

  12. Yeah maybe that's the problem. And I think maybe I skimped a bit on the cocoa. Next time I wouldn't use wm flour either. They where kind a bland too. Hmmmm.

  13. Covered them in chocolate icing and sprinkles and now they're a hit. Perhaps not the healthy treat I had in mind but at least it saved the mini muffins from a trip to the worm farm!

  14. Misspip, I wanted to mention that replacing half or even 3/4 of the olive oil with applesauce improved the flavour of the cake. The first time I made it with just the oil and it was a bit 'bland', not sweet enough.


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