Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to Trick Your Toddler Into Eating Vegetables

When Matthew first started eating solid foods, he was so adventurous. I was so proud of how he would try relatively everything we gave him to eat without complaint. However, for the last few months, getting him to eat anything new has been a major pain. Normally, if he does not recognize the food put in front of him, he will put up the biggest fuss and refuse to even taste it. This usually results in Paul holding Matthew's arms down while I shove a sample bite into his open, screaming mouth. After realizing that the food actually tastes good, he will then proceed to clean the rest of his plate happily while proclaiming: "MMMMMM!!!"

However, I have never successfully been able to get Matthew to eat vegetables. He will eat fruit like a monkey but the only vegetables he eats are carrots. Anything green is particularly offensive to him. Broccoli just plain freaks him out. When he first took a bite of broccoli, he immediately began spitting and gagging until every last bit of it had been regurgitated.

One of Matthew's favorite breakfast treats are smoothies. I normally will make him a smoothie a couple times each week. I decided to try to sneak a little spinach into his diet by adding it to the smoothie - you really can't taste the spinach at all once it is all blended together. However, the smoothie does turn a disturbing shade of green. Nevermind - Matthew has a bunch of drink cups that mask the color of the liquid inside! I poured a generous glassful, screwed the lid on tight, and handed it off to Matthew who was jumping in excited anticipation of his treat. I was just about to congratulate myself on being so clever when I saw Matthew take a big swig of his smoothie, convulse slightly as he swallowed it, and then glare at his cup suspiciously: "Heyyyy......!"

He immediately handed it back to me, wanting no more of the spinach smoothie.

After the failure of the spinach smoothie, I decided to try sneaking vegetables in by adding them to Matthew's favorite food of all time: pizza! I had seen a recipe for a Spinoccoli Pizza on one of the food blogs I read regularly that looked interesting. The pizza consists of a creamy garlic-paremsan sauce, tiny pieces of broccoli, torn spinach leaves, and a mixture of cheeses. It was worth a shot. Paul was super apprehensive about it. He kept stating that spinach had no place near a pizza.

Did the experiment work? Matthew loved this pizza. He ate so much of it for dinner. And then raided the fridge right before lunch the next day to pull out the Tupperware containing the leftovers. Ha!

And Paul loved it too.

Spinoccoli Pizza
adapted from Annie's Eats and Cook's Illustrated

For the crust:
3 cups (16 1/2 ounces) bread flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/3 cups ice water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
Salt and Pepper to taste

For the toppings:
1 cup packed spinach leaves, torn
2 cups very, very small broccoli florets
4 ounces shredded mozzarella
4 ounces shredded cheddar

To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine (about 2 seconds). With the machine running, slowly stream in the cold water through the feed tube until the dough comes together and no dry patches remain (about 10 seconds). Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Add oil and salt to the dough and process until dough form a satiny, sticky ball that clears the sides of the work bowl. Remove dough and knead briefly on an oiled counter-top for about 30 seconds. Form into a tight ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.

When ready to use the dough, remove from the refrigerator, divide in half, form each half into a smooth ball, and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Space the dough balls at least 3 inches apart. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before shaping. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees with a rack placed in the upper third of the oven with a pizza stone in the center. While the oven is preheating and the dough is resting, prepare the sauce and toppings.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in the saucepan over medium high heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine until the mixture turns golden brown and bubbly, about 1 minute. Gradually add the heavy cream, whisking well to combine. Add the garlic clove and continue to cook and stir until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cheese. Salt and Pepper the sauce to taste and set aside.

After the dough has rested one hour, flatten one dough ball into a 8-inch circle. Continue to pull/stretch the dough into a 12-inch round. Transfer the dough at this point to a sheet of parchment and continue to carefully stretch into a 13-inch round. Top with half the white sauce, leaving a 1-inch border. Top with half the torn spinach leaves and broccoli pieces. Sprinkle with half the cheeses. Using a large cutting board, carefully slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is browned.

Repeat with the second ball of dough and the remaining sauce and toppings. Enjoy!!

1 comment:

  1. haha...we had that dinner about a week ago. Delicious pizza!