Shh, don’t tell Zazie that the pretty rainbow in her pudding comes from 5 servings of vegetables! Sneaking vegetables into desserts in order to get some nutrients into my daughter may seem a bit desperate (and potentially counter productive since sugary desserts are not exactly health food). I’d like to say that I’m above that sort of behavior… I’m not!
Our situation is desperate!
Day after day, meal after meal, Zazie stubbornly refuses to eat vegetables. I cook them for her anyway, then throw them out. After lengthy attempts I can often coax her into trying one bite. Invariably, she insists she doesn’t like them and refuses to eat more.
Our daily negotiations can be irritating and tiresome, but I persist out of fear for her nutrient-deprived growing brain and body (plus, I don’t like to lose!). At this point no strategy is off the table, including serving desserts with veggie stow-aways!
I ran across this recipe for butternut squash pudding and was inspired to try my hand at veggie puddings. Since my daughter’s favorite color is “rainbow,” I thought it would be fun to make a rainbow by layering multiple veggie puddings. Coming up with a vegetable for each color of the rainbow was a snap and reminded me of how many brilliant vegetables there are! I failed on blue though…anyone?
My goal was to create a (relatively) nutrient-rich dessert, so I made the following modifications to the recipe: I doubled the amount of vegetables, I included some of the egg whites, I reduced the sugar by 75%, I halved the butter, and I did away with the heavy whipping cream. The result was beautiful! A brightly-colored rainbow dessert that made my daughter’s eyes pop. It was only mildly sweet though, a little bland for a dessert. The texture wasn’t perfectly smooth either, probably because of the extra veggies and because I was too lazy to strain the puddings. Fortunately, neither of these issues bothered Zazie in the least. She loved it! She was so excited by the bright colors and the fact that I was letting her eat “dessert” that it didn’t matter that it wasn’t super sweet or perfectly smooth.
While Zazie was scarfing it down I asked her if she liked her dessert. After she confirmed that she liked it, I confessed that it was made from vegetables. To my surprise, she kind of thought that was cool. It turned out that my little experiment may have helped open her up a teeny-tiny bit (every bit helps!) to eating vegetables. Score one for mom!
Veggie desserts are not a long-term solution to my daughter’s picky eating, but today rainbow pudding is on the menu.
Bon Appetit, Zazie!
Rainbow Pudding Recipe
Veggies in Zazie’s rainbow:
red = beets
orange = carrots
yellow = yellow bell peppers
green = spinach
blue, i couldn’t come up with a blue vegetable
purple = purple sweet potato
2 cups roasted beet puree (or other vegetable)
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 eggs and 1 yolk
1/2 cup brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cut one or two large beets in half and roast them cut side down at 400°F until soft, about 40 minutes. Remove loose skins from beets.
Mix corn starch and brown sugar in a bowl.
Puree beets, brown sugar/corn starch mixture, milk, eggs, and salt in a blender. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheese cloth.
Cook the pureed ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk constantly to avoid forming lumps. When pudding has thickened but is still pourable remove from heat. Stir in softened butter and vanilla.
Cover and refrigerate until completely cool.
If you’re making a rainbow layer the colored puddings with a spoon before they completely cool. Serve in clear glass bowls or glasses to show off the bright colors!
For the bell pepper pudding: I roasted the bell peppers on a gas grill, then placed them in a closed paper bag to steam for bit before removing their skins and seeds.
For the spinach pudding: I blanched the spinach before pureeing it.
A note on sugar: The vegetable purees won’t be equally sweet, so adjust the amount of added sugar accordingly.