Yes, April Fool's Day passed long ago, but there's still time to play a few taste bud tricks. With this handy guide, you can sneak in some extra nutrition in ways no one will ever suspect – but which will have everyone asking for more! Check out our ideas below...
Boost Your Beans
Mash beans with some broth, or puree them in a blender for a silky texture. Add this puree to soups, stews, and sauces to create extra body and flavor. Pureed white beans hide especially well in mashed potatoes, soups, dips, and sandwich spreads. Mashed kidney beans can add depth of flavor to chilis and meatloaf.
Use equal parts white and whole wheat flour for baking. Whole wheat pastry flour makes tender, flavorful quick breads and even works well in cookies. Wheat germ and oat bran may also be used for part of the flour – the latter is very light in color and is unnoticeable when substituted in moderate amounts. Bulgur (cracked whole wheat) can extend or replace ground meat in chilies and most casseroles.
Don’t stick with the tried and true few when you can include a wide variety of vegetables in soups and stews. Soup broth can be enriched by blending pureed veggies with a little of the broth. Mix a new type of salad green in with your usual lettuce, and puree some roasted peppers or leftover cooked vegetables into your salad dressing. Mashed sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkin all add color and flavor to baked goods, while grated carrots, parsnips, and zucchini give baked treats a fun "confetti" look.
Sneak in Some Soy
Keep powdered soy milk on hand to use in baking. You can also replace about 2 tablespoons in each cup of white flour with soy flour. Silken tofu purees like a dream – use it in smoothies, dips, and creamy soups. Textured vegetable protein (TVP®) can be added to spaghetti sauce or chili to give a ground meat texture, or you can purchase frozen soy ‘crumbles’ and add them instead. Fresh green soybeans, called "sweet soybeans," look like cooked lima beans and can be mixed into veggie side dishes.
Kitchen Savvy: Tools to Use and Tricks to Try
A little kitchen savvy will go a long way in helping you successfully sneak in some extra nutrients. These tips will make things easy on the cook and keep everyone else guessing!
- An inexpensive hand-held blender makes it easy to puree foods in a pot on the stove, or to blend silken tofu into a smoothie right there in the serving cup.
- Foods with dark, tomato-based sauces are great for hiding ingredients. Foods that simmer in them for awhile will absorb the color and flavor of the sauce. For example, finely chopped mushrooms, crumbled tofu, TVP® , and bulgur can all pass for ground meat.
- Spicy foods can hide many flavors, which makes chili an especially great vehicle for a few extra veggies.
- Dark spices like cinnamon make baked goods look brown, so no one will notice the whole wheat flour.
- The best place to hide a tree is in the forest. Serve a wide variety of minced vegetables in soups and salads.
- Keep canned pumpkin or frozen winter squash on hand. Add these nutrient power houses to soups or chili dishes.
By Cheryl Sullivan, MA, RD
Looking for more kitchen inspiration? Why not check out our Nutrition Education Store? It's packed with great handouts, posters, games, books, PowerPoints, and more!
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. But after learning that the quality of a croissant directly varies with how much butter it has, Judy sought to challenge herself by coming up with recipes that were as healthy as they were tasty.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.