Karen Heller | Mrs. Seinfeld's recipe to raise picky eaters

Pretty and petite, with an inexhaustible supply of ruffled tops and retro aprons, Jessica Seinfeld has been making the rounds of the daytime chatfests promoting her book, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids to Eat Good Food. She's everywhere, like Where's Waldo with a spatula.

Mrs. Jerry's simple secret is to sneak vegetables into everything, after steaming and then pureeing them Sunday night.

20071017_inq_klhkaren17-a
Author Jessica Seinfeld thanked Oprah with 21 pairs of pricey shoes.

When I say she's putting vegetables into everything, I mean everything. Like carrots and spinach in brownies.

Which is wrong on so many counts.

First, she's lying to her kids. One of her "tricks" is placing a box of mac and cheese on the counter while she "hides" squash in the pot.

Listen, there will be ample opportunity to lie to your children in the future, especially about your early 20s and a decidedly different herbaceous baked good. Broccoli is not the place to start.

Hiding food perpetuates the idea that carrots and spinach don't taste good. They do.

This prolongs picky eating, common in early childhood, which can be easily remedied and should be, as swiftly as possible. Otherwise, you will be responsible for producing a high-maintenance adult who will have trouble sustaining relationships with attractive partners, thereby forcing you to serve bland food for decades.

Then there is the business about the vegetables in the brownies, to say nothing of the margarine spread.

Margarine is as wrong in brownies as the spinach. Baking is all about butter. If you don't want fat, eat an apple.

Mrs. Jerry became famous because she married a man famous for portraying a high-maintenance adult who had trouble sustaining relationships with attractive partners.

When a man does this, he can count on $60 million in annual television residuals. When a woman does this, she is labeled a loon.

Mrs. Jerry went on all these shows on the basis of whom she is married to, becoming a professional wife and mother. So much for progress. We're still supposed to marry up and steam all the squash.

After the Oprah appearance last week, Deceptively shot to the top of Amazon's best seller list. Mrs. Jerry thanked the big O with 21 pairs of shoes, not Keds mind you, but what look like Christian Louboutins, which retail for $520 to $1,375. These are not shoes to wear while pureeing vegetables. These are shoes to wear while instructing the private chef. (Look closely, and there's one in Mrs. Jerry's video.)

Am I jealous? Yes, I am.

When someone thanks me, they ask for additional copies.

I've got tricks. The earlier you present interesting food to children, the more likely they'll adopt an interesting diet. They like garlic. They like duck. And, I'm sorry to report, they love lobster.

Cook with your kids. Children love to cook. They love to eat what they've made.

Don't hide food. The more they know, the more worldly and powerful they feel. Picky eating is about power. Actually, everything is about power. Share the power.

Take children to restaurants, the earlier the better. By restaurants, I do not mean emporiums serving packing material masquerading as food. I mean Chinese, Mexican and Vietnamese restaurants. If Japanese children can eat sushi, so can yours.

Once children enjoy different food, you can travel with them to interesting places without asking if los McNuggets de pollo are on the menu. This helps produce interesting, adventurous adolescents, thereby helping reduce the number of high-maintenance adults who will have trouble sustaining relationships with attractive partners. With luck, they'll continue cooking interesting food. For you.

By all means, do not stay up late Sunday night pureeing beets. And never, ever put spinach in the brownies.

So, there are my tricks. Where are my shoes?


Contact staff writer Karen Heller at 215-854-2586 or kheller@phillynews.com. To read her recent work: go.philly.com/karenheller