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Passover Pancakes

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 Happy Passover!  These flourless Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes look like “white” pancakes, with all the nutrition of whole grain, and packed with protein from egg whites and ricotta cheese.

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Makes about a dozen pancakes

 

4 egg whites

1⁄2 cup part-skim or fat-free ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup oat bran (or rolled oats, ground in food processor or blender)

1⁄4 cup almonds, finely ground (grind in food processor  or blender; or use “almond meal”)

1 cup fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

   

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, ricotta, and vanilla. In another large bowl, whisk together the baking powder, salt, oat bran, and ground almonds. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just blended. Batter should be fairly thick and slightly lumpy. But if the batter is too thick, add a touch of milk. Add the blueberries and mix lightly.

Butter or spray a large skillet over medium heat. Test the pan by tossing in a few drops of water; it will sizzle when it’s hot enough. The skillet will grow hotter over time, so turn down the heat if the pan starts to smoke.

Drop medium-size ladles of batter onto the skillet in batches, making sure there are some blueberries in each pancake. When bubbles begin to set around the edges and the skillet-side of each pancake is golden (peek underneath), gently flip them over. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the pancake is fully set.

Serve stacked high, drizzled with a little warm maple syrup.

When I have extra eggs left in the fridge, I whip up some egg salad for a quick sandwiches. If your family likes thick, old-fashioned egg salad sandwiches, they'll love this recipe. No one will notice the missing egg yolks or the hidden, cholesterol-cutting tofu and White Bean Puree, both of which increase the volume of the salad while reducing the fat.

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Egg-Me-On-Salad Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

4 large eggs

1 cup (1⁄2 of a 14-ounce block) firm tofu

2 tablespoons light mayonnaise

2 teaspoons mustard

2 tablespoons White Bean Puree 

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 slices whole grain bread

Optional extra boost: chopped celery and pickles; lettuce leaves

 

Place the eggs in a small pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the simmering water and place them in a bowl of cold water to cool.

Place the tofu in the simmering water for 2 minutes. Whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, and White Bean Puree in a bowl. Drain the tofu, chop it into small pieces, and add it to the mayonnaise mixture.

Once eggs are cool enough to handle, crack and peel them. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise, remove 2 yolks, and set them aside for another use. Chop the whites and the remaining yolks into small pieces. Add them to the tofu mixture and stir together all ingredients, including any optional extras, until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, and serve on whole grain bread with any optional ingredients.

 

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Do you like mayo on your sandwiches, or in your chicken or tuna salad? I do too, but for a boost of nutrition, I like to make a sneaky swap-- my Sneaky Chef White Bean Puree. The puree has no fat, and it's packed with fiber. On Sundays, I make a extra and keep it in the refrigerator for sandwiches or salads during the week. 

Here's the recipe. Enjoy! 

I created Sneaky Chef Pasta Sauces to add more veggies to the dinner table, but what do you do if your kids won't eat pasta sauce at all? Plain pasta with butter presents the ultimate challenge for Sneaky Chefs, yet it’s the universal favorite among the “no tomato sauce” set. You can sneak in some White Bean Puree as long as you use grated Parmesan cheese as a decoy on top. Who doesn’t love cheese on their pasta? Aside from the fiber and added vitamins from the beans, the combination of beans and pasta creates a “complete protein” out of this normally no-protein high carb meal. Of course you can also use my Veggie Pasta for sneaking in 6 hidden veggies + whole grains – cooks up white!

 

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PASTA WITH BETTER BUTTER SAUCE

Make 4 servings

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup  White Bean Puree  

4 cups cooked small pasta (such as elbows, ideally whole wheat)

3 to 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil, chicken broth, and White Bean Puree over low heat. Add the pasta and toss to evenly coat all pieces. Serve with a Parmesan cheese, if desired.

 

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Macaroni & Cheese is the ultimate comfort food, and my whole family can't get enough of it, especially during the chilly winter months. Luckily, there's a quick and easy way to make this decadent dish a bit more nutritious. I like this Easy Stove-Top Mac & Cheese recipe from Food.com when we've had a busy day and I don't have much time to make dinner. 

But here's my trick-- after the recipe is complete, I add 2-4 tablespoons of Orange Puree, made with carrots and sweet potatoes, or  2-4 tablespoons of White Puree for a boost of nutrition from zucchini & cauliflower. That's extra veggies you would have missed out on otherwise! Mix well, serve, and enjoy. 

Here's a fascinating artilce just printed in the New York Times: Peanut allergy has become a nemesis for increasing numbers of children and parents in recent years, forcing them to maintain nut-free households and prompting many schools to ban a childhood staple, peanut butter, from the lunchroom.

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When a child is allergic to peanuts, families must closely monitor everything the child eats both in and outside the home, because accidental consumption of peanuts could prove fatal. Many airlines no longer offer peanuts for fear that an allergic passenger might inhale peanut dust and suffer a life-threatening reaction at 30,000 feet.

The prevalence of peanut allergy among children in the United States has risen more than threefold, to 1.4 percent in 2010 from 0.4 percent in 1997, according to a study by food allergists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Most people with an allergy to peanuts are also allergic to one or more tree nuts, like walnuts, pecans or almonds.

To help protect such people from inadvertent exposure to nuts, labels on packaged foods must now state whether they were prepared in a facility that also processes nuts.

Some cities have nut-free bakeries that now sell products safe for allergic children, who can bring their own special, albeit expensive, cake or cupcake to a party.

While experts doubt the necessity of some extreme measures taken to prevent indirect exposure to peanuts, the danger to someone with a peanut allergy who eats them is unquestioned.

The potentially fatal reaction, called anaphylaxis, can occur with a child’s first exposure to peanuts: itchiness, swelling of the tongue and throat, constriction of the airway, a precipitous drop in blood pressure, rapid heart rate, fainting, nausea and vomiting.

Unless the reaction is stopped by an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline), anaphylaxis can kill. In one infamous instance in 1986, Katherine Brodsky, 18, a freshman at Brown University with a known nut allergy, died after eating chili that a restaurant had thickened with peanut butter.

There is no cure for nut allergies, although several preliminary studies suggest that it may be possible to temper a reaction to peanuts with immunotherapy. Like shots given for pollen allergies, the approach starts with exposure under the tongue to a minuscule amount of the offending peanut protein, followed by exposure to gradually increasing amounts under strict medical supervision.

The latest study, conducted in Cambridge, England, and published in The Lancet last week, found that after six months of oral immunotherapy, up to 91 percent of children aged 7 to 16 could safely ingest about five peanuts a day, far more than they could before the treatment. About one-fifth of treated children reacted to ingested peanuts, but most reactions were mild, usually an itchy mouth. Only one child of the 99 studied had a serious reaction.

When immunotherapy works, the research suggests, the severity of the allergy is lessened, enabling an allergic person to safely ingest small amounts of the offending protein. It is not known how long protection lasts without continued immunotherapy, however, and the researchers warned that no one should try it on his own. Further study is needed before the treatment can be used clinically, probably years from now.

Meanwhile, everyone with a peanut allergy is advised to carry an EpiPen for emergency treatment.

Ideally, allergists would like to prevent the development of peanut allergy in the first place. Experts had thought that one way would be to keep fetuses and breast-fed babies from exposure to peanut protein by restricting consumption by pregnant and nursing women.

Various studies had suggested that early exposure to peanut protein by infants with allergic tendencies could sensitize them and lead to a serious peanut allergy. In 2000, pregnant and nursing women were advised to avoid eating peanuts, especially if allergies ran in the family. And new mothers were told not to give babies peanuts before age 3, when digestive systems are more fully developed.

But this advice did nothing to curb the steady climb in peanut allergies, and it was abandoned in 2008.

Today, the thinking is exactly the opposite. Instead of restricting exposure to peanut protein by unborn or nursing babies, the tiny amounts that may enter the baby’s circulation when a pregnant or nursing woman eats peanuts might actually induce tolerance, not sensitization.

In a recent study of 8,205 children, 140 of whom had allergies to nuts, researchers found that children whose nonallergic mothers had the highest consumption of peanuts or tree nuts, or both, during pregnancy had the lowest risk of developing a nut allergy. The risk was most reduced among the children of mothers who ate nuts five or more times a month.

The researchers, led by Dr. A. Lindsay Frazier of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, wrote: “Our study supports the hypothesis that early allergen exposure increases the likelihood of tolerance and thereby lowers the risk of childhood food allergy.” They added that their data “support the recent decisions to rescind recommendations that all mothers avoid peanuts/total nuts during pregnancy and breast-feeding.”

The study was supported by Food Allergy Research and Education, a New York-based nonprofit, and published in December in JAMA Pediatrics.

According to an accompanying editorial by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University, “some studies actually showed that avoiding peanuts during pregnancy increased the risk of a child developing peanut sensitization.”

Further support comes from studies of other common food allergens. In an Israeli study of 13,019 infants, those who were exposed to cow’s milk protein as a breast-milk supplement in the first two weeks of life were less likely to become sensitive to it than infants first given cow’s milk much later.

An Australian study of 2,589 babies found that those first introduced to egg at or near 1 year of age were more likely to develop an allergy to egg protein than those first given egg at 4 to 6 months of age.

In her editorial, Dr. Gupta emphasized that further research was needed to understand how maternal diet affects the development of food allergies and “why more and more children are developing food allergy and how we can prevent it.”

But for now, she said, “pregnant women should not eliminate nuts from their diet, as peanuts are a good source of protein and also provide folic acid,” which can help prevent neural tube defects.

Super Bowl Sunday -- for many of us, it may as well be called Super Size Sunday -- because we’re all making trips to Costco and Sam’s Club, picking up giant bags of chips and enormous containers of guacamole. Super Bowl Sunday runs a close second to Thanksgiving, when it comes to food consumption -- but instead of turkey, according to the National Chicken Council, we’ll be gobbling up more than a billion chicken wings. And it’s definitely a day for celebration in the pizza industry. Dominos alone, sells 11 million pizzas slices on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s no wonder that 7-Eleven has reported a 20% increase in antacid sales the day after the big game!

According to the NFL, more than 20 million Americans hold Super bowl parties each year -- and you can count my house as one of them. Yes, even the Sneaky Chef’s home will be filled with bowls of guacamole, piles of chicken wings and plenty of pizza. There will also be platters of decadent brownies -- but what there won’t be, is a need for antacids. I like to think that my guests may even leave a little healthier than when they arrived!

How is that possible? Well, that’s the sneaky secret we’re going to keep from our guests. But from my home to yours, here are 5 ways to make Super Bowl Sunday a great day filled with food and fun, but far less stomach aches, thanks to the imperceptible additions of my Sneaky Chef Purees, made from fresh veggies and beans. They not only reduce the acids in tomato based sauces, while naturally sweetening them, my purees cut the fat and calories in the dish by as much as 50%...so we all WIN!

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Recipes:

One-and-Only Guacamole

Makes about 6 appetizer servings

2 ripe avocados

Juice from 1 lime

¼ to ½  teaspoon salt

1⁄2 cup Green Puree

Optional extra boost: 1⁄2 cup chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes, handful of chopped cilantro (or fresh basil), and/or chopped jalapeños, to taste

Halve the avocados lengthwise, remove the pit, and scoop out the flesh. In a small bowl, combine the avocado with the lime juice, salt, Green Puree, and the optional extras, if using. Blend lightly with a fork.

 

Heartichoke Dip (your heart will love it!)

I’m not sure what it is about guys and dips, especially hot dips, but they love them almost as much as kids love finger food. Hot artichoke dip seems sinful, and it usually is—it’s typically loaded with saturated fat from mayo and cheese. But here the White Bean Puree works overtime, cutting more than half the fat of the traditional dip while simultaneously adding a good dose of fiber and nutrients. And don’t discount the benefits of the common canned artichoke heart: this pantry staple is top-rated for antioxidants among all veggies.

Makes about 4 appetizer servings

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained, and coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons light mayonnaise

1⁄2 cup White Bean Puree

1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder

1 tablespoon wheat germ

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, mayonnaise, White Bean Puree, 1⁄4 cup Parmesan, and the onion powder. Transfer the mixture into an ovenproof soup crock, baking dish, or large ramekin, and sprinkle the top with the wheat germ and the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is bubbly and golden.

 

Crunchy Corn Chips

After seeing how fast, fun, and easy these chips are to make, you’ll wonder why anyone buys the kind in the bag. These chips are so tasty they probably won’t make it off the cookie sheet and into the bowl before most of them are eaten. You can easily vary the seasoning and spice level.

Makes 96 tortilla chips

12 (6-inch) round corn tortillas (white or yellow)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

optional: dust with cayenne and chili powder to spice things up!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush both sides of the tortilla with oil. Stack 6 of them together and, using kitchen shears or scissors, cut the stack into 8 triangles, for a total of 48 chips. Repeat with the final 6 tortillas. Scatter the chips in a single layer onto a large cookie sheet and sprinkle them evenly with salt. Bake 10 minutes, then flip them using a wide spatula and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes until crispy and golden brown.

 

Spiced Rattle Snacks

Roasted chickpeas are a popular snack in low-carb diets. Borrowing from that philosophy, I’ve added our favorite “man spices” to entice guys to crunch on this high-fiber, high-protein snack rather than high-fat chips.

Makes about 2 servings

1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch to 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the chickpeas, and toss until well coated. Spread the chickpeas on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, shaking the sheet and mixing occasionally until the chickpeas are crisp and “ rattle” on the pan.

BRAWNY BROWNIES

http://www.thesneakychef.com/free_recipe_brawny_brownies.php

Sneaky Tip:

Here’s something you probably won’t have to nag your man to do. A Greek study suggests that taking a daily afternoon nap may reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by more than 30 percent, which may account for the low level of heart disease in Mediterranean countries where siestas are common.

 

 The idea behind slow cookers is to have a tender, delicious dinner that’s cooking while you’re gone and ready when you walk in the door. Chicken and stew recipes are most ideal for this hands-off gadget.

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Makes 6 servings 

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups store-bought BBQ sauce* (or 2 cups Sneaky BBQ Sauce, below)
¾ cup White or Orange Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
¼ cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons oat bran
4 skinless half chicken breasts, with bone (about 2 lbs)
6 hamburger buns or English muffins (ideally whole grain)

*If using my Sneaky BBQ Sauce, use 2 cups of sauce and omit the additional Orange or White Puree in this recipe

Preheat slow cooker to desired setting.

In the slow cooker pot, mix BBQ sauce with White or Orange Puree, broth, and oat bran. Add chicken to slow cooker and toss. Cover. Cook 5 hours on low or 2 ½ hours on high. 

Remove chicken from slow cooker. Shred chicken using 2 forks and toss with the hot sauce. Serve on warm hamburger buns or English muffins, if desired.

NoteFor best results, do not remove cover during cooking.

SNEAKY BBQ SAUCE
Makes 2 cups of sauce
Ingredients:
½ cup vegetable broth
One cup Orange or White Puree
One-half cup cider vinegar
Three-quarters cup tomato paste
One-quarter teaspoon each salt and garlic powder
2 tablespoons Worcester sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
Hot sauce to taste
Freshly ground pepper

Whisk together all ingredients except chili powder, hot sauce, and pepper. Add chili powder, hot sauce, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Thin with more vegetable broth, if desired. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

I like to make this good-for-you version of a Mexican favorite in a few batches at a time and freeze them. When it’s time to load up the lunchboxes, I simply thaw them in the microwave!

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Makes 8 taquitos (4 servings)

Ingredients:

4 ounces cooked chicken, turkey, or ham

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed

1⁄4 cup Green Puree 

1⁄4 cup tomato paste

1 to 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix

8  (6-inch round) corn tortillas (white or yellow)

1⁄2 cup shredded, reduced-fat Mexican or cheddar cheese

Toothpicks

 

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with oil. Cut chicken, turkey, or ham into thin strips, easily done using kitchen scissors. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the flax, puree, tomato paste, and seasoning.  Wrap tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave on high for 30 seconds to one minute to make soft and pliable (you may want to do a few tortillas at a time so they don’t get stiff again).

Remove paper towels and lay soft tortillas out on the baking sheet. Spread each with about one tablespoon of the tomato mixture, top with about 1⁄2 ounce of chicken, turkey, or ham, and one tablespoon of cheese. Roll tightly and place seam-side down on the baking sheet (secure with a toothpick, if necessary). Spray the tops of the taquitos with more oil and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove toothpicks and serve warm, or allow to cool and freeze for up to 3 months (simply pop the taquito in microwave).

 

Presto Pizza Mac & Cheese

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 Hard to believe kids could ever tire of boxed mac ’n’ cheese, but this pizza version is a nice variation on the familiar and an opportunity to sneak in even more veggies. The tomato paste isn’t just one of the ultimate ready-made healthy purees, it also lends an authentic pizza flavor to the recipe.

 Makes 3 servings

 Ingredients: 

 (6-ounce) box macaroni and cheese, ideally whole grain

1⁄4 cup low-fat milk

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons Orange Puree 

Optional toppings: handful of diced low-fat pepperoni (turkey, soy, or other), sliced mushrooms, olives, or other favorite pizza “toppings”

 Directions:

Boil macaroni according to package directions and drain. Combine milk, tomato paste, and puree in pot and return to simmer, stirring until well combined. Add in pepperoni and/or other toppings, if using, and serve.

Presto Pizza Mac & Cheese

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 Hard to believe kids could ever tire of boxed mac ’n’ cheese, but this pizza version is a nice variation on the familiar and an opportunity to sneak in even more veggies. The tomato paste isn’t just one of the ultimate ready-made healthy purees, it also lends an authentic pizza flavor to the recipe.

 Makes 3 servings

 Ingredients: 

 (6-ounce) box macaroni and cheese, ideally whole grain

1⁄4 cup low-fat milk

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons Orange Puree 

Optional toppings: handful of diced low-fat pepperoni (turkey, soy, or other), sliced mushrooms, olives, or other favorite pizza “toppings”

 Directions:

Boil macaroni according to package directions and drain. Combine milk, tomato paste, and puree in pot and return to simmer, stirring until well combined. Add in pepperoni and/or other toppings, if using, and serve.

Brownie Cookies

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Need a homemade brownie fix fast? These scrumptious cookies bake up in one-third the time it takes to bake pan brownies. And, they have all the taste of my signature Brainy Brownies, the treats that had pastry chefs scratching their heads trying to figure out how I managed to sneak spinach and blueberries into a fudgy, delicious dessert!

 

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Makes about 36 cookies

 Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1⁄4 cup ground flaxseed

2 large eggs

1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon

1⁄4 cup Purple Puree or baby food blueberry puree

1 box (about 19 ounces) brownie mix (ideally dark chocolate) or Make-Ahead “Instant” Brownie Mix 

Optional: 1⁄2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt butter in a microwave-safe glass or ceramic bowl in microwave on high for one minute (cover with wet paper towel). Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flax, eggs, cinnamon, puree, and brownie mix. Add slightly cooled melted butter and chocolate chips, if using, and mix until well incorporated (batter will be fairly thick). Drop single tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet, leaving about an inch between cookies.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container or freeze in a sealed plastic bag for up to 3 months.

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Trendy coffee milkshakes have inched their way up to a whopping 600+ calories and 25+ grams of fat —about the equivalent of a double cheeseburger. If you want the creamy, frozen satisfaction without the fattening consequences, try this sneak-a-chino. Not only is it less sinful, but it also sports some super healthy ingredients like avocado, lurking under the whipped cream!

Ingredients: 

1⁄2 cup strong coffee (with or without caffeine)

1⁄4 cup low-fat or skim milk

1⁄4 ripe avocado

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional for garnish

1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips

1 to 2 teaspoons sugar

1 cup ice

Whipped cream, for garnish

 Directions:

Blend all ingredients except garnishes together in a blender until smooth. Serve in a tall glass with a quick squirt of whipped cream, a light dusting of cocoa powder, and a straw.

The Power of the Pea

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Many of us grew up reading about The Princess and The Pea. In that story, you may recall, that only a real princess could feel the impact of a tiny pea that was hidden under twenty mattresses and twenty featherbeds. The good news is -- that was just a fairy tale. And the even better news is -- you don't have to be royalty to feel the power of peas. What many people don't know is that peas are packed with protein. Just one cup of peas has as much protein as an egg.

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That's why we're beginning to see pea protein as the foundation of baking mixes and even protein drinks. Here at The Sneaky Chef, we've created No-Nut Butter, a delicious peanut butter alternative made from golden peas! People who are sensitive to nuts or soy protein, or those who follow a vegan diet have been thrilled to discover a better tasting peanut butter alternative.

Peas have been my own long-time sneaky snack. I've been known to run a bowl of frozen green peas under hot water, put them in a cup and take them with me when I'm on the run. They are the fastest healthy snack available -- no chopping or prep time. But there are many more ways you can get a protein punch for yourself or your family -- even for picky eaters who swear they'll never go near anything green, unless it's guacamole, of course. Somehow even my fussiest friends seem to scoop up that tasty snack, emptying the bowl in what seems like seconds.

So let's begin there. I'm going to show you how to double your pleasure and your protein, by sneaking not only peas, but broccoli and spinach -- also surprisingly great sources of protein -- into your favorite weekend snack and holiday appetizer - fresh guacamole. And by doing so, you'll not only get all the benefits that protein brings you, you'll be cutting out 25 percent of the fat.

You want to begin by making my Sneaky Chef Green Puree (recipe below)

2 cups raw baby spinach leaves
2 cups broccoli florets, fresh or frozen 
1 cup sweet green peas, frozen
2 to 3 tablespoons water

Raw baby spinach should be rinsed well, even if the package says "prewashed."

To prepare Green Puree on the stovetop, pour about 2 inches of water into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Put a vegetable steamer basket into the pot, add the broccoli, and steam for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the frozen peas to the basket for the last 2 minutes of steaming. Drain.

To prepare in the microwave, place the fresh broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with water, and microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes (frozen florets take only 1 to 2 minutes), until very tender. Add peas for last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.

Place the raw spinach in the food processor first and pulse a few times. This will reduce the spinach significantly. Next add the cooked broccoli and peas, along with 2 tablespoons of water. Puree on high until as smooth as possible. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to make a smooth puree.

This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double it if you want to store more. You only need half-cup of this puree for the guac below. Green Puree will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1/4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

To make the guac: Scoop out two ripe avocados, add the juice from one lime and half a teaspoon of salt and mix it together with half-cup of the Green Puree. If you want to spice things up, you can also add a half-cup of chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes, a handful of chopped cilantro or fresh basil -- even chopped jalapenos. 

The end result? Every cup sneaks in 8 grams of protein!

You can use this same green puree in any dish that includes ground meat and tomato sauce -- allowing you to cut down on the amount of red meat you use, while boosting the protein in dishes like meatloaf, meatballs and tacos.

Want to pack a punch of protein into dessert as well? Then turn to another member of the pea family -- chickpeas! Just half a cup has 6 grams of protein. And because they're white, when you puree them into your favorite cookie mix, no one will notice that you've snuck them in (not even Santa -- in this recipe for Santa's Sugar Cookies with hidden Chickpea Puree.

And that's the real secret of the oh-so-unappreciated pea. Sometimes real life is even better than fairy tales!

Leftover Potato Pancakes

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Even the most devoted Mashed Potato fans might be stuffed after last night’s dinner. So what should you do with the leftover mashed potatoes? Potato Pancakes!  Perfect whether you’re celebrating Chanukah or just celebrating the end of a long week of cooking. But, of course, we’ve added a sneaky spin that everyone can probably use at this point -- a little extra fiber. 

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LEFTOVER POTATO PANCAKES

This recipe can be made from any leftover mashed potatoes. 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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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. 

 

 

After a long week of cooking and baking, you deserve a little break. So here’s a speedy sneaky recipe that your kids will gobble up. They’ll never guess that it includes that fiber rich cereal that they’d never dream of eating!

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BROWN SUGAR BREAKFAST COOKIES

Makes 16 to 18 large cookies

Ingredients:

2 cups whole grain cereal flakes (such as Wheaties or Total)

3/4 cup Flour Blend (equal parts whole grain and all-purpose flour) 

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 large egg

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

Cinnamon sugar for dusting 

 
Directions: 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or spray with oil).

Using a rolling pin, gently crush the cereal (in a sealed plastic bag) into coarsely crushed flakes. Alternatively, you can quickly pulse the cereal in a food processor.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together Flour Blend, crushed cereal, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, oil, vanilla, and ricotta cheese. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Drop single tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between cookies. Flatten cookies with the back of a fork and then sprinkle tops generously with cinnamon sugar (or just sugar if your kids don’t like the cinnamon flavor). Bake about 18 to 20 minutes, or until nicely browned and crispy around the edges.

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Brainy Brownies

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What’s a holiday weekend without some yummy snacks lying around? No one has to know that you’ve snuck in a little spinach! 

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Sneaky Chef Brainy Brownies

(Makes 30 Brownies)

6 tablespoons unsalted butter 

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips  2 large eggs 

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

1/2 cup sugar 

1/2 cup Purple Puree 

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Flour Blend 

1/4 cup rolled oats, ground in a food processor

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder 

1/4 teaspoon salt 

Butter or non-stick cooking spray 

Optional extra boost: 1 cup chopped walnuts 

Directions:

> Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

> Butter or spray only the bottom, not the sides, of a 13-by- 9-inch or 9-inch square baking pan. 

> Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water (or in a microwave, checking every 15 seconds). Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool a bit. Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together the eggs, vanilla, sugar, and Purple Puree. Combine this purple egg mixture with the cooled chocolate mixture. 

> In a mixing bowl, stir together Flour Blend, cocoa powder, oats, and salt. Add this to the chocolate mixture and blend thoroughly. Mix in the chopped walnuts, if using, then pour the entire mixture into the baking pan. 

> Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in pan before cutting the brownies and use a plastic or butter knife. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. 

Keeps for a week in the refrigerator, covered tightly.

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  What kid doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly? And now, with The Sneaky Chef No Nut Butter -- a peanut butter alternative -- it’s peanut butter (or No-Nut Butter) for everyone! And there’s an extra sneaky bonus packed inside these PB&J muffins that your kids will never suspect -- sweet potatoes and carrots!

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No Nut Butter & Jelly Muffins

(Makes 8 Large Muffins)

Ingredients:

1 cup Flour Blend (or half all-purpose flour and half whole grain flour)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup lowfat milk

3/4 cup Sneaky Chef Creamy No-Nut Butter

8 heaping teaspoons favorite jam

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners.

 In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined, then whisk in the oil, milk, and No-Nut Butter. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix until flour is just moistened (don’t over-mix or the muffins will be dense).

Scoop about two tablespoons of batter into the large muffin cups until half full. Place a heaping teaspoon of jam in the center of each muffin. Cover the jam with another 2 tablespoons or so of batter, filling the cups just over the top. If you’re using mini-muffin cups, scale back quantities to fit into the smaller sized cups.

 Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

 

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When your out-of-town guests wake up to these Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sticks, they’re going to think you had breakfast catered! Imagine bacon, egg and cheese on a buttered roll -- just a little bit healthier. And one very sneaky ingredient.

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BACON EGG & CHEESE BREAKFAST STICKS

 

Makes about 18 servings

Ingredients: 

1 cup rolled oats, old-fashioned, not quick cooking

1 cup Flour Blend 
½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter 

3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup
White Bean Puree 
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cup low-fat cheddar cheese

3 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2
cup cooked bacon or 1 cup cooked ham, diced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line an 11-by-7 inch baking pan completely with foil and butter the foil (or spray with oil). Remove butter from refrigerator to let soften.

In a large bowl, combine oats, Flour Blend, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in White Bean Puree and the egg. Mix in dry ingredients on low speed. Stir in one cup of the shredded cheese and ham or bacon, if using. Pour entire mixture into prepared baking pan. Spread remaining one-quarter cup of cheese evenly over the top.

Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a metal rack.

Let cool before cutting into approximately 1 inch by 3 ½ inches. Store wrapped in refrigerator for up to 3 days; freezer up to 3 months. 

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Lunch Box Biscuits

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This is the perfect on the go treat. You can pack these Lunch Box Biscuits in the car if you’re planning a Thanksgiving road trip! Or slip them in your purse, if you’re bringing the kids along on a big Black Friday shopping spree. There are two hidden vegetables in these babies! 

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LUNCH BOX BISCUITS 

Makes 14 biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups Flour Blend

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

¼ cup plain yogurt

¾ cup White Puree 

¼ cup low-fat buttermilk

1 cup low-fat shredded cheddar cheese (plus extra ½ cup for tops of biscuits)

Optional “Mix-Ins”:

Cheesier Biscuits: Add one-half cup shredded low-fat cheese

Ham and Cheese Biscuits: Add one-half cup shredded low-fat cheese and 2 cups diced, cooked, ham (about 8 ounces)

Turkey and Cheese Biscuits: Add one-half cup shredded low-fat cheese and 2 cups diced, cooked, turkey breast (about 8 ounces)

Bacon and Cheese Biscuits: Add one-half cup shredded low-fat cheese and 1 cup diced, cooked, bacon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees; Grease (or spray oil) a baking sheet. In a large bowl, whisk together the Flour Blend, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the dry mixture evenly, forming little pea-sized clumps.

In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, White Puree, buttermilk, and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just enough to moisten the dry ingredients. Stir in the “mix-ins” of choice.

 Drop one-quarter cup amounts of dough on prepared baking sheet. Top each biscuit with about a tablespoon of shredded cheese, and then spray the tops with oil. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. 

 

 
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