June 2009 Archives

Did you know that many Sneaky Chef meals can be made for less than $2 per person?  We’ve been doing some math over here, and we’re excited to share this exciting news with you!!

Families are watching the bottom line more closely than ever, and thanks to recipes from The Sneaky Chef, making healthy meals can result in some hefty savings. 
 
Check out the money saving ideas below–they’re easy to employ and won’t add to your to-do list. Best yet, they will help keep your family healthy, strong and energized while helping to keep your wallet as thick as possible ; )
 
• Slip healthy ingredients into foods you know your kids already like, so they’ll clean their plate, meaning you won’t have to toss perfectly good food. And who among us can afford to waste food these days?
 
• Actually use all of those wonderful fresh veggies instead of having them sit in the refrigerator only to eventually go bad. How often do you buy produce with the best of intentions but it somehow doesn’t get eaten? Using them in The Sneaky Chef make-ahead-purees to freeze for the future will ensure the produce won’t go to waste. (for example, Sneaky Chef’s signature Green Puree uses spinach, broccoli, and frozen peas).
 
• Try some of The Sneaky Chef vegetarian recipes that kids like. They show you how to properly combine beans (legumes) and whole grains to make an inexpensive, healthier protein, so you can occasionally forego the meat, fish, poultry, which is usually the most expensive part of the meal. Sneaky Chef’s Pasta with Better Butter Sauce (book 3) is a great example, with pureed white beans that no one would ever detect!
 
• Don’t waste money on sugary, high-carb—and expensive!—snacks. Many of The Sneaky Chef recipes will help your family stay full longer because they are packed with fiber and protein. Sneaky Chef’s Breakfast Cookies (book 1) are loaded with whole grains and fruit to keep kids, and adults, feel satisfied longer. 
 
• No need to waste ingredients making a different meal for each member of your family. The Sneaky Chef recipes offer a solution for picky eaters, resulting in one meal for the entire family. Check out Sneaky Chef’s Speedy Stovetop Lasagna with 6 hidden veggies plus whole grains!
 
This is the first in a three part series so stay tuned for more!
 
With healthiest regards,
 
Missy

One of the best things we can do for the man in our lives this Father's Day is to cook him up one of his favorite meals. And what man doesn't love to sink his teeth into a great, juicy burger? Try my recipe below for delicious and nutritious Barbell Burgers, fortified with completely hidden spinach and blueberries. It's one of the most requested recipes out of my Men's Book and guys go nuts over it. It's fast, easy, and it lets you make his favorite burger both tastier and healthier–he'll not only flip for the flavor but he'll be able to enjoy them guilt free : )

And for dessert, whip up some rich n' chocolaty Brawny Brownies. They taste like just  like his favorite decadent brownie, but they've got hidden spinach, blueberries and whole grains for a nutritious punch that will leave him feeling happy and loved on his special day.

Happy Father's Day to one and all!

Missy

 Thank you so much for the quick response! Over the weekend I went and got 2 of your books! LOVE THEM! I have discovered a whole new world. I have never cooked anything (I'm 36!) and I've made some dishes from your cook books that have even passed the taste test of my husband and my pickiest daughter who is 6. I also have 2 boys (3&4). I work full time so I appreciate the simplicity of the recipes!

Over the weekend I made the bagel pizzas ( can't recall the exact name)which called for the white and orange purees. I had my daughter helping me. Well I'll be darned if the pickiest eater wasn't eatting the sauce right from the mixing bowl! 
Thank you thank you for helping parents feel good and empowered about we are feeding our families!
Sincerely
Lauri W.
Hi Lauri,
 
I assumed that you only wanted a recipe for naked baked potato fries themselves, without any kind of sauce. But perhaps my Surprise Cheese Fries will work for you. They have a cheese sauce into which I was able to hide White Puree, which has cauliflower and zucchini.

Here's the recipe:
 

SURPRISE CHEESE FRIES

The Canadians call these national favorite fries with cheese sauce “Poutines,”— but I’ll bet they’re not slipping cauliflower into them north of the boarder!

Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
russet potatoes (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Salt/pepper to taste
For the cheese sauce:
3 ounces American cheese
¼ cup White Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe on Website)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub a baking sheet with the olive oil.
Cut each potato into 8 wedges or several thin sticks and place
them in a mixing bowl. Dust with cornstarch and cornmeal, then toss to coat evenly. Spread them in a single layer on the oiled baking sheet. Spray the potatoes generously with oil. Bake for 30 minutes, use a spatula to flip them, and return them to the oven for another 10 to 15, until crispy and golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To Make the Cheese Sauce:
Put the cheese in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover the top of the bowl with a wet paper towel and microwave on high for 30 seconds at a time until fully melted. Alternatively, you can cook mixture over a double boiler or in a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. Stir in White Puree and serve hot. This sauce thickens as it cools, so if there is a delay in serving it, simply put it back in the microwave for another 15 to 30 seconds.

Serve fries with hot cheese sauce on the side or drizzled over the potatoes.

Goes well with Sneaky Sliders

 


Dear Missy,

My son is a vegetarian and is on a restricted diet for the next 6 months.  He can't have gluten, dairy, soy, corn, tomatoes, vanilla, allspice, and a few other spices.  I'm looking for healthy fats to give him. I'd like for him to eat avocados and nuts.  Any ideas for ways to incorporate those things into foods?

Hi Kelly,

Sounds like you're on your way to becoming an expert on restricted diets! I would suggest going through the "Special Diet" section of my third book, substituting ingredients he's allergic to with others. By going through these recipes you might also get ideas of other ingredients to introduce: garbanzo beans, for instance.

One recipe that comes to mind from my first book is "Breakfast Ice Cream." Puree the following:
--1/4 cup ripe avo
--1/2 cup frozen strawberries
--1 tablespoon honey/agave or whatever sweetener he can tolerate

You could make endless variations on this theme, and freeze the puree into popsicles as well. Nuts could be ground fine and added, too. Or just add them as a garnish on top of a bowl of ice cream.

Another substantial avo dish that I enjoy (but that my kids wouldn't be interested in) combines the following unlikely ingredients:
--one avo
--a handful of walnuts
--an orange, cut in pieces
--an apple, in pieces
--a handful of raisins

The avo can be mashed, and be sure to mash the oranges a bit as well, so as to form a creamy green sauce. The dish does not "present" well, but one spoonful is enough to change perceptions!

With healthiest regards, 

Missy 

 Dear Missy,

My 3 year old eats only oatmeal, mashed potatoes, baby food
bananas, ritz crackers, graham crackers, and tortilla chips.  He has
never eaten foods outside the above.  We have offered him everything
and tried many approaches.  He is above average in all areas, minus
his food aversion.  I have had him for an upper GI, worked with CDS
here in Maine, and with his daycare.  All parties have voiced concern
and a willingness to help resolve this...but we have had no sucess.
Have you ever heard of anything like this?  Any insight you can
provide would be helpful.  We are currently trying to find someone to
help him with his food apprehension, and getting no where.  No one
(professionally) feels that they have the skills to assist; all agree
we need to help him and not just chaulk it up to a sit and wait by
labeling him as a picky eater.  Thanks in advance. 

Dear Nicole,

It sounds like you've checked with your doctors, which is the right thing to have done. If things are showing all clear from their side, let's explore the picky eater route. Here's my sneaky recipes for Mystery Mashed Potatoes and Quick Fixes for Oatmeal from my first book to try out. I have a sneaky suspicion they will work beautifully for you ; ) You can find the make-ahead purees on the Free Recipe pages of my website.

Let your doctor know that you're trying these recipes and I will be very interested to hear the results.

Enjoy in good health : )

Missy

MYSTERY MASHED POTATOES:

Nutrition Highlights: vegetables, calcium

Rich in vitamins vitamin B6, C, potassium, manganese, folate, calcium and fiber.

Comforting, homey and full of fat, most mashed potato recipes call for a stick of butter and a cup of heavy cream. I used to reserve this dish for major holidays, but with this revamped recipe, we can enjoy these delicious mashed potatoes whenever the urge strikes. You’ll hardly miss the heavy cream and butter with the clever use of calcium-rich evaporated skim milk, which is concentrated and has a consistency similar to cream. And the pureed cauliflower and zucchini disappear in the creamy white texture of this dish. For myself, I more than triple the amount of White Puree, since I don’t mind the taste of the veggies and I want to cut way back on carbs. But for the family, start at lower amount of White Puree called for, and gradually increase a little each time you make these, until it gets too noticeable.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

4 to 8 tablespoons White Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe #4)

2 tablespoons low fat sour cream

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup evaporated skim milk

Place the potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until the potatoes are completely tender.

Drain potatoes in a colander, and then return to pot along with butter, evaporated milk, White Puree, sour cream and salt. Mash with a potato masher until combined well.

Serve immediately, or keep the mashed potatoes hot on the stovetop in a metal bowl set over simmering water.

White Bean Puree Variation

Follow exact instructions above for Mystery Mashed Potatoes, but replace the White Puree with the same amount of White Bean Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe #9). Alternatively, you can add both the White Bean and White Purees in this recipe, for an even healthier dish.

Cheesy Variation:

Cheese acts as an excellent flavor decoy and adds protein and calcium.

Follow exact instructions above for either variation of Mystery Mashed Potatoes, the fold in about one-quarter cup shredded low fat cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese to the hot potatoes before serving.

What to do with the leftovers? See the following recipe …

LEFTOVER POTATO CAKES

Nutrition Highlights: whole grains

Rich in vitamins B6, C, E, iron, potassium, folic acid, manganese, fiber and protein. 

This recipe can be made from any leftover mashed potatoes (ideally, Mystery Mashed Potatoes, page __). I came up with this one on the third day after Thanksgiving when our family couldn’t bear to eat another serving of mashed potatoes! And by that point, we all needed a little more fiber and vegetables in our diets, which the wheat germ provides discreetly. My kids like these dipped in applesauce or low fat sour cream.

Makes 8 small pancakes

1 cup leftover mashed potatoes

1 to 2 teaspoons whole wheat flour

2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup wheat germ, unsweetened

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional dips: applesauce or low fat sour cream

Mix 1 teaspoon of flour into cold, leftover mashed potatoes. If still too wet, add the other teaspoon of flour. Pinch off tablespoon sizes of the mashed potatoes and use your hands to form about 8 balls. Add the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium high heat. Turn down to medium if oil starts to smoke.

Mix the wheat germ with the parmesan cheese and salt on a plate. Roll the balls in the wheat germ mixture, covering completely. Add 4 potato cakes to the hot skillet, flatten gently with a spatula and cook until they have browned on one side, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turns cakes over with a spatula and cook the other side until golden brown, another 1 to 2 minutes. Repeat with next 4 cakes, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Place cooked potato cakes on a plate lined with paper towels to blot excess oil.

Quick Fixes for Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a pretty good food to start with, but can be made even better with some simple tweaking. First, always begin with “ old-fashioned” rolled oats, not the “ quick cooking”  version. They are nearly as fast to make and provide more fiber and longer-lasting energy. Then, you can add more fiber and nutrients by adding in any or all of the following boosters to 1/2 cup of dry oats:

* 1 cup milk

Rich in calcium

Simply substitute milk for water when cooking oatmeal.

*  1 to 3 teaspoons wheat germ

Rich in vitamin B and E, iron, potassium, folic acid and protein

Make oatmeal according to package directions, adding wheat germ with the oats. You may need to add a bit more liquid if the oatmeal seems too dry.

* 1 to 3 teaspoons oat bran

Rich in vitamins B, manganese, selenium, and fiber

Make oatmeal according to package directions, adding oat bran with the oats. You may need to add a bit more liquid if the oatmeal seems too dry.

*  1 cup Blueberry, Cherry, or Strawberry Juice (see Make Ahead Recipes #6, 7, or 8)

Rich in vitamins A, C, E, manganese, antioxidants, and fiber

Simply substitute juice for water when cooking oatmeal.

*  1 to 3 teaspoons blanched, slivered almonds, ground in a food processor

Rich in vitamin E, manganese, tryptophan, magnesium, and fiber

Make oatmeal according to package directions, adding ground almonds with the oats. You may need to add a bit more liquid if the oatmeal seems too dry.

*  1 to 3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

Prepare oatmeal according to directions on package. Mix dry milk into the oatmeal, mixing until well blended.

 Dear Missy,

I just wanted to comment on the power of your recipes.
 
My almost-3-year-old daughter "caught" me putting the orange puree
into freezer bags. She stuck her little hand into the measuring cup
and ate some of the mixture. Her eyes lit up and she said, "Mmmm.
That\'s yummy!" She then demanded her own bowl, and who am I to deny
a kid her veggies, right? She ate a full 1/2-cup serving in no time
flat!
 
That's all BEFORE I even used it in a recipe. I can't wait to see
her reaction when I actually cook with it!
 
Thank you for your creativity!
 
Marcy 

Dear Marcy,

It's so wonderful to hear inspirational stories like yours. It makes it all worthwhile : )

The puree really is quite tasty on its own, and many people have written me that they even make sandwich spreads from it! When you think about it, all they really contain is sweet potatoes and carrots. They're both quite delicious and sweet on their own, even though they're some of the world's most nutritious superfoods. Who needs to use processed and sugary foods when you've got these natural yummies to choose from?!

Keep up the great work : )

Missy

Dear Missy,

I just wanted to comment on the power of your recipes.
 
My almost-3-year-old daughter "caught" me putting the orange puree
into freezer bags. She stuck her little hand into the measuring cup
and ate some of the mixture. Her eyes lit up and she said, "Mmmm.
That\'s yummy!" She then demanded her own bowl, and who am I to deny
a kid her veggies, right? She ate a full 1/2-cup serving in no time
flat!
 
That's all BEFORE I even used it in a recipe. I can't wait to see
her reaction when I actually cook with it!
 
Thank you for your creativity!
 
Marcy 

Dear Marcy,

It's so wonderful to hear inspirational stories like yours. It makes it all worthwhile : )

The puree really is quite tasty on its own, and many people have written me that they even make sandwich spreads from it! When you think about it, all they really contain is sweet potatoes and carrots. They're both quite delicious and sweet on their own, even though they're some of the world's most nutritious superfoods. Who needs to use processed and sugary foods when you've got these natural yummies to choose from?!

Keep up the great work : )

Missy

Hi Missy,

I am having so much fun with your book!  I\'ve never been much of a cook, but I am really doing well, and it\'s healthy!

I have been using the carrot and sweet potato baby food instead of attempting the actual puree (I\'m new- baby steps!) but I was wondering if it\'s less healthy than making the puree or about the same? Thank you, this has been a life saver for getting my boys (husband and son) to eat better!

Jillian

Dear Jillian, 

Baby food is a good quick substitute when you're short on time or ingredients, but making the purees from scratch is always preferred nutritionally.It really doesn't take much time and it is so worthwhile. Give it a try : )

Keep up the great work!

Missy

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