Spinach Brownies on the Seinfeld Table

One might imagine that dinnertime at the home of Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld would be a barrel of laughs. But when meals turned into a battleground because the three Seinfeld kids wouldn’t eat their vegetables, it became very difficult for health-conscious Jessica to sit back and let the good times roll. Rather than force-feed the kids, Jessica developed a few recipes that use vegetable purées to sneak healthy food into her children’s favorite dishes.

Now, she’s sharing her creations in her first cookbook, Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, and she made an appearance on Oprah Monday to talk about her sneaky recipes—like mac ’n’ cheese laced with butternut-squash purée, chicken nuggets enhanced with broccoli, spinach- and carrot-infused brownies, and a chocolate cake that’s fortified with beets. (Granted, there’s only half a cup of beets in the whole nine-inch cake—and the purées are spread rather thin in the other recipes, too—but a little bit of vegetable goodness is better than none at all.)

The most interesting part of the show was when Oprah’s resident doctor explained the biological basis behind most kids’ dislike of vegetables:

Dr. Oz says when our prehistoric ancestors searched for food, their children were most susceptible to poisons, which often taste bitter. So instead of liking something bitter—like broccoli—children tend to crave sweet and bland foods like dairy or chicken nuggets.

He says that the same reasoning applies to kids who’ll only eat white foods such as white bread, white rice, and plain pasta: “[W]hite foods are seen as being safe to them visually, emotionally, from a taste perspective.”