I am extremely jealous of Sarah Matheny, author of the blog AND best-selling cookbook Peas and Thank You. To be specific, I am jealous of her daughters. It seems that her Little Peas enjoy just about anything healthy placed in front of them.
This is in direct contrast to my own Wee One. While she does enjoy some healthy items, like grapes and... grapes, if she could eat chocolate ice cream and French fries for every meal, she would be much more willing to sit down to dinner with us. Even sweet potato fries are something at which she turns up her little nose. Seriously - who doesn't like sweet potato fries?
So while we in the Decadent Philistine household have been working on presenting HRH with various healthy foods (over and over and over, just like the experts tell us to do), since I am hell bent on making sure she doesn't starve to death, I've also been trying to get creative when making her lunches and snacks that soothe the savage sweet tooth as well as use the familiar to add variety.
One of her recent favorites: Nutella. It's a lot of people's favorites; we especially enjoy it when Scott makes crepes. But it's anything but healthy, despite what the advertising campaign might tell you. Earlier this year, a woman sued Nutella (and its parent company, Ferrero) for false advertising, claiming that she gave it to her kids because the company claimed that it's a healthy part of breakfast. If you watch this commercial, you'll see that it does claim health benefits, like being made with skim milk and having no artificial colors. But what it DOES have is this:
No artificial colors, but artificial flavors - you bet! And I'd guess that any fat reduction benefit that the skim milk offers is countered by the palm oil as the second ingredient (only second to sugar). I'm not sure I'd go so far as to sue Ferrero; I can read the labels myself, and I know that it's not as great as Busy Mom keeps trying to tell me. But certainly the claims are, at best, a stretch. I'm sure the company's legal department assisted with some meticulous scripting.
At some point, I plan to make my own, using David Lebovitz's recipe. But for now, I'm working our way through the Costco-purchased, 50-gallon drum of the real thing.
At first, I worked on making a peanut butter and chocolate sandwich, heavy on the peanut butter (homemade) and light on the chocolate. But she was soon on to my devilish trickery. "NO! NO PEANUT BUTTER!" she would scream as she saw me get both the PB and Nutella out of the cupboard after she requested a chocolate sandwich.
(This, of course, is also just weird to me, as I consider a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup to be the world's most perfect food)
Clearly I needed something that would keep the sweetness factor up without compromising on the "let's try to get this one to eat healthier calories" campaign.
Enter the humble banana.
Thanks to a recent OnDemand episode of Dora the Explorer, bananas are now in vogue, and between my obsession with one of the Peas and Thank You smoothie recipes and Dora's insistence, we've been going through bananas in this house like we were a bunch of monkeys (no comments from the peanut gallery, please). I personaly refuse to eat them by themselves once they have the faintest spot of brown on them, but that makes them perfect for mushing up. Into a chocolate and peanut butter spread.
I'm not sure if HRH is on to me yet, but she seems to enjoy the addition of the banana into the peanut butter and Nutella combo. The important thing is to have enough of the Nutella to make it appear to her that I haven't messed with the chocolate aspect of her request (but not enough that it is counter-productive to make an attempt at a healthy alternative). I've pre-made it and keep it in the fridge, so when we are having lunch or a snack, I can put together a sandwich or smear up a few crackers for her pretty quickly (you may have heard that 2-year-olds are into instant gratification) that's sweet enough for her but healthy enough for me not to stay up at night worrying about whether or not I am giving my child diabetes.