Is it just me, or is one of the biggest battles we face as parents the vegetable war? As a child I grew up with nothing but overly steamed mushy broccoli and cauliflower. Facing those two monsters on my plate as a kid was like going toe to toe with the one-eyed purple creature that I was sure lived under my bed at night. I try to come up with creative ways to serve vegetables for my daughter and most of the time it works, but sometimes she can go for days without touching a vegetable. That’s when I break out the food processor and use purees as a secret weapon to win the vegetable war.
I believe it was Chef Jacques Pépin that once said pertaining to culinary trends, “purees are simply baby food on a plate.” Ok, he has a point, but when you are a mom trying to give your children a healthy meal sometimes it’s all you’ve got. Vegetable and fruit purees are incredibly simple to make and sometimes you can even buy them frozen (preferred) or canned in the store. Using vegetable purees as a secret weapon is as simple as this: Roast vegetables in the oven at 400°F for 30 to 40 minutes until tender. The best vegetables prepared this way are butternut squash, pumpkin, beets, carrots, parsnips, and cauliflower. These can also be steamed. Once cooked, puree them in a blender or food processor for 2 minutes. If the mixture is thick add a little water at a time until smooth. To store, freeze in 1-cup amounts or in an ice cube tray (each ice cube is 1 ounce). Store in the freezer in freezable containers or bags for up to 4 months.
Now you have an array of purees to use at your disposal. When you feel that your child is not getting the amount of vegetables in his or her diet, simply defrost a puree and use in everyday food. For example, 1 cup of butternut squash, cauliflower, or pumpkin puree is fantastic in oatmeal, bread, muffin, cupcake, and pancake recipes. 1 cup of beet puree makes fantastic pink pancakes that my daughter loves. And one of my favorites is to blend butternut squash, parsnip, carrot, or pea puree with honey into Greek yogurt.
The possibilities for healthy creations are endless and the satisfaction of knowing my child is getting a little more vitamins and nutrients helps me sleep a little better at night, even if there is a one-eyed purple creature living under my bed.