Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Sneaky Chef

The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals
I reordered this book through Amazon the other day. The first one was destroyed in a stomach virus related incident. Let us move on, shall we?

I was eager to get back into the "eating right" thing because we have been hit hard by a barrage of colds, flus, coughs, and ear and throat infections. So the easiest thing to do, after washing our hands until they are raw, is to eat right. Because of so much going on, I admit, I have been slack. We are not big junk food eaters, but we still weren't eating optimally.

I'd been pureeing cauliflower and adding it to their mac n cheese. Two eat it, one does not. The two that eat it are the two I worry the most about. MUAHAAHAAHAAHAA (evil laugh).

But I needed to take it up a notch because they wouldn't eat mac n cheese every day, plus cauliflower is not the only veggie needed. I decided to make the Choc-ful Donuts/Choc-ful Cupcakes.

Purple Puree. Mmmm!

The ingredients that boost these are spinach, blueberries, wheat germ, and whole wheat flour.

Donuts in front, cupcakes in back. Chocolaty!
Nico loves donuts, Lucas loves cupcakes, and Nina loves chocolate. Got all the bases covered!

Berry icing - made with berry juice, powdered milk and sugar.
The verdict? The kids loved them. All is good in the Land of Insanity.

What I like about this book is that it is fairly easy to use and fairly honest about what our expectations should be regarding children and their tastes. Lapine suggests making purees of the veggies used in her recipes and freezing them. This will help a lot down the line as you want to make something quickly or try something new, and it's easier to hide it from the kids!

The recipes are old favorites. I've tried the mac n cheese, the pizza, the cupcakes, and the quesadillas. Not bad. Personally, I don't like some of the flavors, but my kids didn't seem to notice anything different, and that's the main thing, right?

I prefer this book to Deceptively Delicious, which is very similar in ideas. As I mentioned, Lapine is more realistic with regard to children. I felt like I was being lectured by Jessica Seinfeld and felt a bit of "holier than thou" attitude in her book. Also some of Seinfeld's recipes seemed a bit complicated for my busy schedule and my kids' tastes. I made the chicken nuggets and they didn't go over well. (I will be trying them again - sometimes kids just decide to be finicky).

I am a big believer in picking your battles. Fighting over veggies and having your kids force themselves to gag is not my idea of a fun evening together (Nico even made himself vomit when he had to eat a quarter of an inch of a green bean. Good times.)

Anyway, this book is a great peacemaker in our family. And keeps my level of guilt down.


  1. I watched an Oprah show where someone had pureed everything, frozen into sachets and then added one to all sorts of stuff. From carrot puree to normal cake mix to spinach into bolognaise etc. It looked good though, no funny colors etc and the children ate it.

  2. Les Lee Coyote... genius. That was for the cupcake eatin', fine cartoon appreciating boy of yours.

  3. I have not seen the cookbook so I cannot comment on whether the author touches on this or not, but as a produce expert, I feel I need to tell you that cooking any vegetable in high eat kills the nutrition value. It would be better to try to make fun raw finger foods for the kids (try saying that three times fast). I find kids love raw vegies; this is a good way to introduce them to a healthy lifestyle.

  4. @Mystica, yes that's the idea. It may have even been this author or Seinfeld.
    @Tracy, hee hee hee. Thank ya veruh much!
    @SariJ, interesting but that's not a realistic expectation for my kids and this is a very healthy alternative.

  5. +JMJ+

    Sari: I hadn't known that about vegetables and high heat. I put lots of vegetables in my fried rice so that it is healthier for my brothers. Is stir fry usually okay?

    Leslie: The berry frosting is so interesting. I never thought of mixing juice and powdered milk before. Will regular juice do, or do you have to squeeze berries yourself? (I'm sorry if this is a completely silly question, but I've never actually baked with berries before! Nope, not even made pancakes!)

  6. @E - Not a silly question at all. I followed the recipe in the book - boiled berries and strained them and mixed with the pwdrd milk and pwdrd sugar. But the author also suggested buying juice. I would guess one that is not so watered down, like a cherry juice or pomegranate, etc.

    I know you weren't asking me, but I have read about the heat and veggies. The risks do not outweigh the benefits of cooking veggies and some (like carrots) actually benefit from being cooked.
    I think you just have to be balanced. And that's really the purpose of the book.

  7. I applaud your integrity and ambitiion with all the junk food out there bombarding our diets. Glad that purple stuff tasted better than it looked.

  8. Kim, LOL! Yes, it did look gross. Was a bit doubtful myself, but chocolate covers all sins.

  9. hahaha-- Are you sure it was a stomach virus and not a critique or sabotage?!

    That berry icing sounds yum-- I'm going to try that on a bundt cake-- I bet strawberry would be tasty too!

  10. hahaha,that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

  11. Thanks, Leslie, this was a real conversation starter.

    Weighing in with a tip I've found. I wash, pat dry, and finely chop spinach. Then I spread it in a thin layer on baking paper and freeze. When well frozen I crumble it up and put it into zip loc bags. Because it's flash frozen I can get out as much/little as I want. It goes anywhere herbs might: eggs, pizzas, toasted sandwiches/quesadillas, stir fries, fried rice, pasta, sauces, etc. Just a small contribution to a healthier family.

  12. +JMJ+

    I use DeLynne's "flat freezing" technique for ground meat, too. I think it was Rachel Ray who first got me to flatten stuff out before putting it in the freezer.

    Spinach is great, by the way. One of my favourites. =)

    Leslie, I'll definitely try making frosting with juice first, as berries are really expensive where I live. Thanks!

  13. Oh, that's a good idea, DeLynne. I actually like the flavor of spinach.


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