The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 9, 2013

Amanda Stone: Healthy deceit does no harm

By Amanda Stone
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I love being sneaky. I get immense satisfaction from making a meal as packed with nutrients as possible, while keeping it edible and, preferably, delicious.

It's a pet peeve of mine when someone won't try a certain food. As a child, my best friend claimed to hate mushrooms. My family told her we were having fried chicken for dinner, when we were actually having fried morels. She loved them. I remember giggling with delight. Food deceit started early on in my life.

My 4-year-old has always been a great eater. Lately, it's become more challenging to get her to eat her fruits and vegetables. Like her momma, she really only wants bread and cheese. And olives. But unfortunately, I don't think they really count as a vegetable. What a shame.

I take great pleasure in sneaking in vegetables wherever I can. I've read about how sneaking in veggies doesn't teach the child to actually eat vegetables. I took that argument into consideration, and decided I would rather my kid ate the veggies without the use of bribery. I want her to have a healthy relationship with produce, with no lingering childhood ill will toward vegetables. As a result, my daughter doesn't know that her oatmeal isn't supposed to be tinged with green, which is a result of a frozen pureed cube of broccoli.

Your reason for sneaking veggies in is irrelevant. Yes, it's great for the kids, but it's really great for everyone. Try it for a stubborn adult, too. Once you start doing it, you'll see that your meal is just as yummy. It doesn't have to be a temporary thing to get your kids to eat their vegetables. It can be something that's standard. It's also a great way for you and your spouse to get some extra fiber and vitamins.

Why wouldn't you want to throw some carrots, cauliflower and peppers into the food processor to add to your ground beef? Once you add some seasoning, no one will be the wiser. Try adding cauliflower to your boiling pot of potatoes next time you have mashed potatoes. Puree some veggies and a couple of cloves of garlic to add to your spaghetti sauce. I hope you feel as giddy as I do from the deviance!

Not just potato soup

4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 stalks celery, chopped, leaves included

1 onion, diced

1 head cauliflower, pulsed in food processor to resemble crumbs

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add onion, celery and cauliflower. Simmer about 10 minutes or until onion is soft. Add chopped potatoes. Simmer until potatoes are soft. Stir in butter. Remove from heat and slowly stir in milk. Season with salt and pepper. Use less water and a potato masher if you prefer a thicker soup. I also like to add carrots into the food processor with the cauliflower. The cauliflower virtually disappears into this "potato soup", making it a great choice for a winter Meatless Monday.

Butternut squash macaroni and cheese

1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and diced (about 3 cups)

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

11/2 cups skim milk

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound whole-wheat spirals

1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (I use pureed cottage cheese)

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Combine squash, stock and milk in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add noodles to boiling water; cook according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Mash contents of saucepan; stir in nutmeg, cayenne and salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta and 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Coat a 9-by-9-inch baking dish with olive oil spray and pour in the noodle mixture.

In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, remaining Parmesan and oil; sprinkle evenly over noodles.

Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until lightly browned and crisp on top, 20 to 40 minutes more. Serve immediately.


Have questions? Email them to or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.