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Want your kids to eat veggies? Just add anchovies, garlic, and olive oil. Really.

So I'm being a bit glib, but it's no joke; the American crutches that get kids to eat are crunchy coatings and melty cheese. If it's cheesy and crispy, you know the kids will eat it. But since we're talking healthy fats, it's time to take those crutches away.

For Julianne's Focus on Healthy Fats, we're working with fish oils, seed and nut oils, and avocados. Not exactly music to the ears of a 2- and 5-year-old. And though Julianne has agreed that she will be the focus this month, she can't help but despair when her kids send her back to the kitchen to make peanut banana sandwiches while she and her husband are enjoying salmon burgers.

But here's what's worked, and it's surprised Julianne: Caesar Salad!

When I mentioned Caesar to Julianne, she immediately pumped the breaks: that's the first thing "to go" when every dieter starts down the low-fat path. Magazines always publish "can you believe it?" stories about the caloric Caesar, and it's buh-bye restaurant Caesars, hello low-fat Caesar dressing at home! 

But not during healthy fat month! When I wrote You Can Trust A Skinny Cook, I experimented with all kinds of low-fat fats. In fact, I wrote a whole tip about when to use low-fat mayo (see tip below), and when to use the real deal. This dressing could not work with anything less than the real deal. And now, with wonderful olive oil and canola mayos, we can get those healthy fats in our Caesar dressing (plus, anchovies! Click here for more on anchovy's benefits...). I shared the recipe with Julianne, and I'm sharing it with you (recipe below). 

Here's Julianne's feedback:OMG. We just finished dinner... or should I say, we just finished devouring your Caesar Salad recipe.   Huge hit, with everyone in the family!  Of course, my two munchkins loved the croutons (who wouldn't), but you can now proudly say that you have converted my anti-veggie toddler into a lettuce hound. He loved it - he kept begging for more.  :)   As for me personally, you have re-converted me back to Caesar salad.   George kept asking me, "Really?  This isn't low-fat?  This is healthy fat?"  I kid you not - we licked that salad bowl clean :)


Next success: Julianne's mother's hummus. Ok, so granted, the kids were not crazy about hummus, but Julianne and her husband sure were. And what I love about this -- Julianne spoke so longingly of her mother's hummus; she just loved it, and never had occasion to ask for the recipe. For this month, with our focus on healthy fats, we were racking our minds to thing of something that would use a nut or seed fat...thought about her success with dark sesame oil, sesame seeds, paste: TAHINI was our answer. From there it was a short jog to hummus, and a happy healthy fat for Julianne (recipe follows).


Basic Hummusby Susan Walters
1 cup cooked chickpeas2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice2 to 3 tablespoons tahini or extra virgin olive oil2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed1/2 teaspoon kosher saltDash of Tabasco sauce, or other hot sauce
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  
NOTE:  Start with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of tahini; this will result in a thicker consistency of hummus.  Then, if you feel you need to add more to make the consistency smoother, add as needed.
Julianne's Note: My mother prefers to use fresh chickpeas, instead of canned - she says the taste is much better, although cooking chickpeas yourself is more time-consuming. Personally, I strongly recommend using fresh garlic instead of from the jar - the garlic from a jar yields a completely different taste. 
Caesar Salad with Garlic and Herb CroutonsFrom You Can Trust A Skinny CookMakes 6 servingsServing Size: 1 1/2 cups salad with croutonsPrep Time: 25 minutesTotal Time: 25 minutesYou may not know it yet, but in your hands you hold a super delicious recipe for Caesar dressing. This little recipe will cement your reputation as a gifted cook. Make big jars of the stuff and give them away as holiday gifts. (Just keep them refrigerated.) You think I’m kidding, but that’s just because you haven’t tried the recipe yet. In fact, the only thing better than this dressing is the homemade croutons that go with it. They’ll keep for a week sealed in an airtight container at room temperature (if you can avoid them for that long—I can’t!).2 tablespoons unsalted butter4-inch piece of Italian bread, cut or torn into 3/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups)1/4 teaspoon garlic powder1 teaspoon dried parsley3/4 teaspoon kosher salt1 small garlic clove, minced1 teaspoon anchovy paste, or 1 anchovy, chopped1/4 cup mayonnaise 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice1 large head romaine lettuce, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons (about 10 cups)1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperParmesan shavings (optional garnish; see tip below)1. For the croutons: Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with garlic powder. Stir to coat the bread cubes with butter. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bread cubes are golden and toasted. Sprinkle with the parsley flakes and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and toss to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.2. For the salad: In a large bowl, mash the garlic, anchovy, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt with the back of a fork. Add the mayonnaise, Parmesan, and lemon juice and whisk to combine. Add the lettuce to a bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper and toss again.3.  Divide the salad among plates, top with the croutons, and serve. Garnish with Parmesan shavings, if desired.Nutrition Information (per serving):Calories 182, Carbs 15g, Fiber 5g, Protein 5g, Total Fat 13g, Saturated Fat 4g
Skinny Kitchen Tip: Smile, You’re Using Full-Fat MayoI’ve tested this recipe almost too many times to count before perfecting the version that made it into the book. At first, I was making a real Caesar with raw egg yolks, but then I realized that lots of folks don’t dig raw egg yolks and all the pregnant ladies would be left out. I couldn’t have that. So I went to low-fat mayo because it had 55 fewer calories per tablespoon.It seemed like a good idea at the time. Sort of like those bad highlights I once got. Let’s just say I went through a lot of romaine before I realized what was wrong with my weak, watery dressing. It was the mayo! As soon as I returned to full-fat mayo, I was rewarded with a vivid and tangy dressing. I always say to keep the real stuff whenever you’re going to taste it, and in this situation, I’m reminded why! In this recipe, the fatty stuff is an extra 37 calories per serving. Is it worth it? Heck, yeah! The light mayo dressing tasted fine until I tossed it with the lettuce. Then it was as if I hadn’t dressed the greens at all. If what you eat doesn’t taste great, you’ll be unsatisfied. Your satisfaction is my priority. For this dressing, use full-fat mayo.