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.
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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.
What better way to celebrate summer than with a delicious BBQ outing with the family? That's why I wanted to share a couple of my favorite BBQ recipes with you from my BBQ e-book, my BBQ Sneaky Turkey Burgers and Sneaky Greek Grilled Pizza. They're both packed with hidden healthy ingredients, yet you would never know by the taste.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and I (as I’m sure all moms out there!) am looking forward to taking full advantage of this holiday. One of my favorite things about Mother’s Day is enjoying all the housework, cooking and cleaning I WON’T be doing. (My husband and kids are such good sports!)
Every year on Mother’s Day in thousands of households around the nation, children decide to “surprise” their moms with breakfast in bed. I absolutely love it! It’s great seeing my kids working together, taking pride in a job well done and let’s face it, who doesn’t love to be catered to? But after all is said and done and I’ve finished my breakfast, I’m typically overwhelmed by the tornado that seems to have become my kitchen!
With measuring cups and spoons tossed on the counters, and plates covered in who-knows-what, it’s easy to lose that Mother’s Day feel amidst a kitchen disaster. So this year, I’m determined to help myself and other moms keep Mother’s Day relaxing by offering some breakfast-in-bed recipes that are healthy, nutritious and most importantly, provide less mess!
Tropical Twist Breakfast Ice-Cream Cones
Both of these recipes are healthy and perfect for the whole family, so make sure to purchase all the needed ingredients, drop some hints to your husband and suggest these recipes to your kids! Have breakfast with everyone in bed with the reassuring knowledge that your kitchen is still intact. I’m wishing everyone a no-mess Mother’s Day on Sunday!
What a party it was going to be that night! The guest of honor was receiving all the goodies any kitchen could want from a potato masher to a Panini maker to a 3 in 1 slow cooker. There were cookie sheets and muffin tins. I stood there admiring the untouched beauty of a loaf pan that I was gift wrapping.
Sounds like a wedding shower doesn’t it?
My son who had been diagnosed to be on the Autism spectrum several years before, turned 17 that day.
Since The Sneaky Chef method so effectively removes the sensory concerns from so many foods, it allowed my son’s diet to drastically improve. Then The Sneaky Chef inspired methods were made part of his life skills training. He learned to love cooking.
The Sneaky Chef started him on his journey less than a year ago when I made for him the first burger. I used the green puree and rejoiced that my son ate veggies without gagging!
In no time at all, I watched my son shopping for fresh spinach and kale for him to chop up in a safety chopper and toss into ground chicken or a whole wheat veggie pizza crust he was making himself. Whole wheat spinach waffles anyone?
We didn’t stop with just cooking projects, with our continuous supervision he agreed to be responsible to shop for and prepare all of his own foods.
I purchased a pair of kitchen islands to form his own counter space with bottom shelves used for his pantry and for his disability appropriate kitchenware and appliances.
He cooks the foods and stores them in the freezer. He eats them for his meals.
It’s a good feeling as his mother to know that he is he eating far better now. Further, it’s great to know that his daily life reinforces him being in the habit to thoughtfully prepare health foods for himself. It doesn’t bother me that we have to supervise him. It is what it is. He is far more independent than before.
Now I have only one question and it really is for him. I need to ask him if sometime I can borrow his mini muffin pans. His are nicer than mine ☺.
–Guest Blogger Cindy Appel is a midwest mom whose teenage son,diagnosed with autism, has focused being creative in not only what he eats, but in gaining important life skills. She tell us that it was an important breakthrough when they discovered The Sneaky Chef.
Happy Earth Day! As a mom, I’ve always believed in the importance of teaching my children about the benefits and gifts we receive daily from our planet. Although Earth Day is an ideal time to recycle and make steps to take better care of the environment, it’s also a perfect opportunity to teach our kids the difference between real, whole foods from nature, and overly-processed foods that are often filled with chemicals and fake ingredients.
Taking the time to enjoy foods that are as close to their natural form like, fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains and lean proteins, can be a delicious and eye-opening way to celebrate Earth Day with your children, and all the bounty our planet provides us.
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to teach my kids the difference between foods from the earth and heavily processed items is by taking them grocery shopping with me. It can be fun and educational to walk the perimeter of the store where the fresh produce is, and then show them a few examples of unhealthy packaged foods. I know how hard it can be to convince kids not to go for the super sugary cereals and fruit roll-ups, so here are a few different techniques to try:
1. Read them the nutrition labels and ingredients list. I like going by the rule of “if you can’t pronounce it; you probably shouldn’t be eating it.” Let them give it a try too! Reading labels will help set healthy habits for the rest of their lives early on.
2. Try explaining how natural foods are changed by other ingredients to become something different that is less healthy for our bodies. Although some processed foods can be a part of a healthy diet, try to go for those that still have real ingredients in them (that you can pronounce).
3. If your kids aren't impressed by Earth's natural bounty, try this win-win approach: make them my Earth Day Milkshake (recipe below) but don't tell them what's in it. About an hour later, ask them how they're feeling: good? sleepy? sugary crash? Now tell them that you made it really easy for them to eat their veggies today by putting them in the milkshake. Point out that you balanced out the sugar with the high quality nutrition of spinach. This is the classic "sneak and teach" approach. Kids get to experience first hand the energy and mood benefits of the veggies in a way that's completely easy and delicious for them. What's not to love about spinach when it tastes so good? Try this in my other free recipes for kids' favorites including: Sneaky Chef mac n' cheese, Speedy Stovetop Lasagna, chicken nuggets, Brainy Brownies, spaghetti and meatballs, Power Pizza, etc!"
My Earth Day Milk Shake features one of my all-time favorite whole foods, spinach. This green superfood has countless nutritional benefits, and the green color makes it fun for the kids on Earth Day.
I hope these tips and recipe helps you celebrate Earth Day with your children in a fun and delicious way!
Earth Day Milk Shake
Yes, it’s bright green, but so are mint chocolate chip and pistachio ice creams and that never stood in anyone’s way. Tell the kids you’re celebrating Earth Day or just having fun. They will gobble it up and you’ll be amazed. The key is to start with a really good tasting vanilla frozen yogurt or light ice cream; the vanilla extract will help its flavor shine through. Each tablespoon of Spinach Juice is the equivalent of eating about 1/4 cup of spinach, so you can feel great about serving this delicious treat. Start with the lesser amount of juice called for, and work up to more over time.Makes 2 servings
• 2 cups vanilla low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt
• 4 to 6 tablespoons Spinach Juice (See Make-Ahead Recipe)
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Blend all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Serve in tall glasses with a quick squirt of whipped cream and a straw.
For more fun recipes featuring spinach and other healthy veggies, click here!
In order to highlight the growing need for concern and awareness about autism, the Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month since the 1970s. The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community.
Many of these significant issues have to do with foods: texture, taste, color and flavor issues are frequently seen in children suffering from autism. This often results in inadequate nutrition, especially from vegetables, as well as severe limitations on the foods that the children will actually eat.
Helping to ease this challenging situation was not what I originally set out to do when I first created the Sneaky Chef method, but I have since recieved hundreds of testimonial letters from families with autistic children. Here's one that brings tears to my eyes every time I read it:
"I am a mum of six children ranging from 19 to 8. My three youngest have autism.
"Finding food that they would eat is hard enough but healthy food is even harder. We decided to take out a lot of the preservatives in their diet as well as getting them to eat healthier.
"Finding your book was a Godsend. While making up the purees, I despaired getting them to eat them. Then I stood in awe as my 9-year-old took off with the bowl that I had made the "Brainy Brownies" in and began to lick it. I can make up food now knowing that in most things they are getting such wonderful vegetables. Putting a white and an orange puree into plain baked beans and watching them eating it is incredible.
"My son’s teacher came up to me after two weeks and asked me what I had done. She told me that my son was now working alone without needing much help and his spelling and English had improved dramatically.
"My 9-year-old daughter is amazing. Since starting with the purees and other things in the book, her speech has improved dramatically and she had now at least twice the amount of words. When she got out of the car the other day, and just before she ran off to school, she turned and called out. ‘I love you mummy.’ I sat and cried because that is not something she says.
"If I could meet Missy I would give her the hugest hug because without this book I would definitely not have the kids I have today. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving my kids back to me. Tina E., Australia (mum of 6)"
I'm still amazed by the positive effects that proper nutrition can bring to small bodies, minds and souls.
With healthiest regards,
Celebrate Easter this year with these healthy recipes and treats the whole family will love – featuring sweet delicious strawberries, one of the first fruits of the spring season!
Sneaky ‘n Speedy Strawberry Cupcakes
This recipe is a terrific way to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary this Easter! All you need is a box of yellow cake mix. The Strawberry Puree and cranberry juice will add a super boost of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants and will make the cupcakes even more moist and flavorful.
Makes about 18 cupcakes
3 large eggs
3⁄4 cup Sneaky Chef Strawberry Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
1 cup cranberry juice
1⁄2 cup oat bran
1 box (about 18 ounces) yellow cake mix
Pink sprinkles and pink vanilla frosting, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with pink paper muffin cups.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, place all ingredients, except sprinkles, if using. Blend at low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium speed for another 2 minutes. Using a spoon, mix 2 tablespoons of pink sprinkles into the batter. Pour batter into muffin tins. Bake for 19 to 21 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). Remove and cool before frosting with strawberry or vanilla frosting with pink sprinkles.
Sneaky Chef Make-Ahead Recipe: Strawberry Puree
2 1⁄2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons water
Makes about 1 cup
Combine the strawberries, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of water in the bowl of a food processor and 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 smooth out the puree.
Strawberry Puree will keep in the refrigerator up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1⁄4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers. Also great for smoothies or mix into yogurt!
Sparkling Strawberry Float
You won’t have a problem helping your kids meet their goal of 5 fruits and veggies a day with this fizzy fruit drink! Serve it at your Easter brunch in champagne glasses (plastic ones, that is).
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 1⁄2 cups frozen strawberries
1 1⁄2 cups cranberry juice, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 cups sparkling water, divided
Four whole fresh strawberries, straws, and/or drink umbrellas, for garnish, optional
Place frozen strawberries, 1⁄2 cup of the cranberry juice, sugar, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor, cover, and process on high, stopping occasionally to scrape the contents to the bottom to make a smooth sorbet. Note: At this point, the sorbet will be very soft—if you prefer a firmer “scoop,” simply pour sorbet into a plastic tub or glass baking dish, cover, and place in the freezer for at least an hour. When ready to serve, pour 1 cup of sparkling water and 1⁄4 cup cranberry juice into each glass. Scoop about 1⁄4 cup of sorbet into each glass. If desired, garnish each glass with a fresh strawberry, slightly split and placed on the rim of the glass, and serve with a straw and/or drink umbrella.
Anyone-Can-Make Crepes — Strawberry
Makes 4 crepes
1⁄2 cup Sneaky Chef Orange Puree or ½ cup baby food carrot puree
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1⁄4 cup whole-grain pancake mix
2 tablespoons water
Lightly grease or spray an 8-inch or 9-inch nonstick pan with oil.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Orange Puree (or baby food), eggs, vanilla, flax, pancake mix, and 2 tablespoons of water (unlike pancakes, you don’t want any lumps in crepe batter).
Heat pan over medium. Pour in 1⁄4 cup of batter into prepared pan; tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly. Cook the crepe for 1 to 2 minutes until edges look golden and top looks dryer, then loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side for 1 minute.
Remove crepe to plate and set aside until ready to fill. Or, crepes can be made in advance, stacked between sheets of wax paper, wrapped in plastic, and stored refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 3 months (thaw before using).
Brush or spray oil on pan before making each crepe.
Sneaky Strawberry Filling
1⁄4 cup all-fruit strawberry jam
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 1⁄2 cups sliced fresh or frozen strawberries
Optional: powdered sugar
Mix the jam, flax, and berries in a bowl. Place one quarter of the mixture down the center of each crepe. Fold sides in over filling and turn over on the plate, seam side down. Dust with powdered sugar, if using.
Spring has officially sprung today, which means summer—and summer camp—is bubbling away vigorously on the front burner. This year, I won’t be making a last minute scramble trying to find good camps for my girls. I found this great camp consultant (a free service) who found camps that fit my two kids’ widely different interests. The name of this superhero is Ann Travis—aka, “The Summer Lady.”
We all know that kids are picky eaters and some won't even eat certain colors, especially "yucky" colors like green. If you have a picky eater in the family who refuses to eat anything green, St. Patrick's Day is a great way to introduce the color into their diet! Your kids are sure to enjoy green-colored meals to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with their friends and family, so give them green food that they'll want to enjoy all year long!
Adding green to food is easy, especially with my Sneaky Chef Green Juice made with spinach. The green juice can be added to almost any light-colored foods, like eggs, vanilla yogurt, ice cream, and even icing, while boosting the nutritional value since it's packed with spinach. The sneakiest trick is that baby spinach has almost no taste in this juice-form, so your family won't even notice a difference in taste! You can find The Sneaky Chef Green Juice recipe below, along with a few of our favorite green-colored recipes. If your family has a favorite St. Patrick's Day recipe, then just add a few drops of the Sneaky Chef Green Juice and enjoy!
Hope you'll join top nutritionists from the prestigious NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and me for a Twitter Chat to "Test Your Heart Health IQ" Thursday, Feb. 28, 3013 at 8pm EST
Hey Sneaky Chefs!
Happy Holidays Sneaky Chefs!
The holidays are one of the best times for food, but also one of the most dangerous for your waist line. That's why I've created some healthier versions of my family's favorite traditional recipes, as well as some new ones too. In this post, you'll find recipes for two of my favorites-- a Christmas Morning Smoothie (a winner with the kids) and Santa's Sugar Cookies (a winner with the kids AND Santa!).
Plus my 5 Tips To Stay Slim This Holiday
1. Plan to indulge, but in moderation. Deprivation can lead to over-indulging.
2. Use a salad plate for your main course, so you'll grab less food.
3. Pop a mint or gum at a party, it will help you avoid snacking.
4. Don't serve "family style," you'll be more likely to go back for seconds!
5. Drink a large glass of water to stay hydrated and eat less.
Happy & Healthy Holidays,
Sugar and our kids. This is a tough issue for us parents, presenting choices and challenges all day long. From cold cereals at breakfast, to cupcakes at birthday parties, to the bedtime snack of cookies and (chocolate) milk, just about every “treat” – especially those aimed at kids – seems loaded with added sugars.
As a member of the Children’s Advisory Council for the prestigious NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, I was asked to join a panel of doctors to speak on the topic of sugar and our children. The parents present at this educational symposium asked some excellent questions. I’ve compiled 10 of them, along with our discussion, below.
First, the sickeningly sweet facts: According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the average teen consumes 125g of sugar a day, which amounts to about 500 calories (one quarter of a typical 2,000 calorie a day diet). Considering the American Heart Association’s recommended amount of added sugar is no more than 12-36g per day, depending on age and gender, we are way, way over the limits. Read this excellent article to sort out the facts and help rebalance the scales:
1. Should I forbid sugar outright?
No! Don’t be the extreme mom who won’t let her kids have a slice of cake at the birthday party, or who bans all sweets on the home front. Nothing makes kids want it more, and ultimately they’ll over-indulge when they find access to the “forbidden fruit.”
From a scientific perspective, our brains need sugar every day to function –we just need to pay attention to what type of sugar and how much sugar is being ingested.
2. How are natural sugars different from “added” sugars?
Naturally occurring sugars are found in fruits (fructose), dairy (lactose), vegetables, and whole grains. They do not need to be avoided. If you serve your child a cup of fresh strawberries, for instance, she’ll be getting 7 grams of naturally occurring fructose sugar wrapped in nature’s perfect package of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help the body properly digest and utilize this natural sugar.
Any sugar that is not found naturally in the food is considered “added” sugar. This includes white or brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and sweeteners such as corn syrup. See the American Heart Association’s (AHA) helpful guide for more.
3. How much sugar is too much sugar?
According to the AHA, the recommended daily sugar intake for adult women is 20g, for adult men, 36g, and for children (depending on age) it's about 12g. But who’s going around counting the grams? The simple answer is moderation. If your kids are having a donut and hot cocoa for breakfast, cookies and juice for snack, and jellybeans after lunch, they’re having way too much!
4. Will sugar make my kids fat?
Added sugar makes food taste good (why do you think they sweeten children’s medicines) and makes us want to eat more. This can lead to overeating and possibly to obesity.
5. Is it okay to serve dessert every night?
Yes. Just make sure added sugar isn’t always high on the ingredient list, and that the dessert portions are on the small side (no need to bring out a whole pie—just one slice per person suffices).
Variety is the spice of life, so broaden your definition of dessert to include juicy fruit (or fruit salad), popcorn, kale chips, dark chocolate, a homemade goody, or an occasional outing to an ice cream parlor (which is less damaging than making daily dips into an ice cream carton in the freezer!). When you make a dessert, you can usually reduce the sugar the recipe calls for. Better yet, replace those undesirable “added sugars” the Sneaky Chef way, with naturally sweet fruit and veggie purees.
6. Are artificial sweeteners ok for kids? What about natural ones, like stevia?
While artificial sweeteners taste sweet, they are designed to be indigestible in the stomach. These sweeteners can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea. They can also play tricks on the mind and body, sending all kinds of mixed signals and possibly making us crave sweets even more. Do not steer your children toward these unsafe sweeteners.
Stevia is a natural sweetener made from herbs. It is many times sweeter than table sugar, and has virtually no calories. A little goes an unbelievably long way, so follow the recommendations.
7. How do I get my kids to eat their dinner (and not just want dessert)?
Two words: No grazing. Kids should eat 3 meals (with 1 or 2 small snacks) a day. They should come to the table hungry. Make sure they don’t skip breakfast even if they say they’re not hungry.
8. Is sugar “toxic” or even cancerous?
Researchers who study the effects of sugar on the body are still unable to answer this conclusively. Sugar does cause inflammation in the body, which can lead to numerous health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Here is a must-read article on the toxicity of sugar, by Gary Taubes (author of “Why We Get Fat”).
9. What’s an easy way to read a food label and look out for sugar?
Sugar is in almost all packaged and processed foods – from salad dressings to soups, condiments, fruit tubs, and of course, cereals. It lurks in large quantities in some surprising places, as well: for instance ketchup, bread, pasta sauce, many so-called “healthy” cookies, and BBQ sauce.
An easy rule of thumb: if sugar (or High Fructose Corn Syrup) is the first or second ingredient, don’t buy it. And watch out for “low fat” and “fat free” versions of anything – this usually means there’s more sugar to make up for the loss of fat.
10. What can we do about sugar cravings?
If you think you or your kids are addicted to sugar, you’re probably right. When we eat something sugary, our brains release dopamine, which is a happy hormone that prods us to eat more of what is making us happy.
Here are a few tips to quell sugar cravings:
• Minimize munchies that combine sugar, salt, and fat (French fries, cookies, chips, etc.). When these three pair up, sugar cravings are amplified.
• Make sure you’re giving your kids enough protein, which curbs sugar cravings.
• Give your sweet tooth natural sugars (which are complex carbs)— rather than added sugars—whenever possible. Simple sugars are too easy for the body to break down, and will make you get hungrier faster. Complex carbs, such as sweet potatoes and brown rice, will keep you fuller longer.
• Reduce the added sugar in recipes (I usually reduce it 25% without a problem).
• Replace the “added sugar” in recipes with the Sneaky Chef solution: naturally sweet purees, made from veggies and fruits.
The result? Healthier kids, no sugar spikes, and less cravings for the added sugars none of us need. Sweet!
Happy Thanksgiving Sneaky Chefs! While it's one of the most indulgent holidays of the year, it doesn't mean we can't slim things down a little bit. I've made a few changes to the traditonal Thanksgiving menu that cuts the extra calories and fat, without sacrificing the flavors of your favorite comfort foods. Check out this link to get some of my sneaky recipes like Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Pumpkin Pie and Roasted Squash Soup.
PS. Don't pay attention to those Thanksgiving food myths! Here's a great article busting them.
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
There are so many heavy foods at Thanksgiving; these mashed potatoes make for a wonderfully lighter version of the traditional.
Prep Time: 50 mins
2 pounds Yokon gold or russet potatoes (about 4 medium-sized potatoes), peeled and quartered
2 to 3 heads garlic
1/2 cup White Puree
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt ("Greek" style works best)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350, and place potatoes in a large pot of cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 25 to 35 minutes, until the potatoes are completely tender.
Meanwhile, wrap the garlic heads in foil and roaste them in the oven for another 30 minutes. Remove the garlic from the oven and squeeze the garlic flesh out of the skins.
Drain the potatoes into a colander, then return them to the pot. Add the roasted garlic flesh, the white puree, and the yogurt, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mash with a potato masher until well combined. Add a bit more yogurt if needed. Serve immediately, or keep the mashed potatoes hot on the stovetop in a metal bowl. Set over simmering water.
Serve with Sneaky Gravy.
Truth is, candy tastes really good and I’m fighting with my own demons that will make me want to raid my kids’ loot bag after trick or treating on Halloween! It makes genetic sense that my two girls love sweets: I, too, was born with a sweet tooth.
Being a responsible parent, as well as a healthy cookbook author has made me wrestle with my own inner candy monster and I have, over the years,found some sneaky and not-so-sneaky ways to mitigate the damage unlimited candy can cause even the best of children and parents. Here are some tips to enjoy a happy Halloween with just the right amount of responsible restraint and plenty of sweets for all. Enjoy!
– Put off buying candy until the day before Halloween. You know those bears at Yosemite that rip open your tent to grab the granola bar they smell, even though you put it into a plastic container? Well, kids are even better at sniffing out candy stashes. By delaying your candy purchase, you will not only thwart your cublings: you will probably get your candy on sale.
– Do NOT buy family favorites. This way, if there are leftovers, your children will not mind if you dump or donate them.
– Focus on costumes, ghost stories, games and all the other Halloween traditions. If you notice candy-obsessed dialog, bring up the other sides of Halloween: those cool costumes, scary-looking houses, telling ghost stories by flashlight, bobbing for apples and other Halloween traditions.
– Give kids a good breakfast, lunch and dinner on Halloween. By “good,” I mean food your kids will happily eat that is nutritious (high in protein and fiber, and low in—duh!—sugar!). Make them feel full and satisfied, which lessens their need to overeat candy during their trick or treating. Start their day with Pumpkin Pie Hot Cereal (see recipe below) and you’ll be their Halloween Queen. If you have trouble coming up with a lunch and supper menu that is as nutritious as it is delicious, visit my website where you’ll find scores of free recipes.
– Chew gum while trick or treating - If your kids want to dip into their goods between houses, limit them to chewing gum, which will keep their mouths happy and occupied for a relatively long time, for just a few calories.
-- Consider handing out non-food treats. I’m not trying to get your house egged, just the opposite! Be the cool house that gives out little toys instead of candy. Here’s some ideas of items that can be purchased for very inexpensively at party stores, dollar stores, or discount sites online: temporary tattoos, bubbles, glow-in-the-dark items, crayons, silly putty, bouncy balls, crazy straws, etc.
– You can’t skip the holiday, so keep on skipping. As your kids dip into their booty, avoid sugar spikes and mood-busting crashes by burning some sugar-fueled caloriesoff. Skip or hop from house to house. Enjoy setting the example, and savor seeing your youngsters following. The giggles will be well worth the effort!
Be charitable. So now your youngsters have poured out their pumpkin-basket of goodies, and are gloating over their bounty. Believe it or not, they are probably willing togive some of it away. Besides donating to your church, synagogue, or homeless shelters, there are some non-profit organizations that collect extra candy for the troops overseas.
Even if your children choose to give just one or two bonbons away, they are learning the joy of being charitable.
Here is an adorable sneaky twist to the holiday that I heard about on CoolMomPicks: one clever mom came up with a “Switch Witch” tradition. She collects the candy the children don’t want or can give up, leaves it on the front step after Halloween, and the next morning the “Switch Witch” has taken the candy and left a small toy for each kid.
Out of sight, out of mind (and tummy). To lessen temptation, keep the candy somewhat out of sight. Put it in a non-see-through bowl on an obscure counter top (a little too high for the youngest ones to reach!).
Refocus. Help your kids remember what the fun was all about: the silly skipping, the fab costumes, the scary houses, the great feeling of giving some of the candy away…ask them what their best memory was, and whip them up to expect even better times ahead. No ifs, ands, or boo’s about it: Halloween can be fun!
PUMPKIN PIE HOT CEREAL (from The Speedy Sneaky Chef)
One of the unsung healthy heroes in the ready-made food world is 100% canned pumpkin. It’s also an excellent source of the vitally important antioxidant beta-carotene. Fun fact: Did you know pumpkin is a fruit?
Makes 2 servings (Make it in about 8 minutes!)
2 packets (about 2/3 cup) Instant Healthy Grain Original Cream of Wheat®, unsweetened
6 tablespoons canned 100% pure pumpkin
2 cups low fat milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 graham crackers
Add all ingredients except the graham crackers into a pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, stir, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes until cereal has thickened. Placegraham crackers in a plastic bag and using a rolling pin or your hands, gently crush crackers into coarse crumbs. Pour hot cereal mixture into bowls and top each with graham cracker crumbs, spreading evenly over the top.
September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. I’d like to rename it: National Childhood Obesity Solutions Month. Why? There are sound scientific findings that show how calorie intake can be reduced in an easy, delicious way. Which just happens to be The Sneaky Chef way!
In a Penn State University study, research shows that preschoolers ate twice as many vegetables & 11% fewer calories just by eating their favorite foods - creatively enhanced with pureed fruits and veggies!! The study underscores what I have believed in and promoted for years now: slip the good stuff into the food your kids love, and they’ll have their veggies tonight, without a fight! It adds up to great health benefits and fewer calories. Did I say “adds up”? OK, well, here’s another addition equation for parents to solve by tonight:
Broccoli + Peas + Spinach = ?
(Correct Answer: Green puree, which you can add invisibly to this meatball recipe your kid will happily eat tonight!)
Nutrition Highlights: Whole grains, protein, and vegetables. Rich in vitamins A, K, B12, C and E, tryptophan, manganese, folate, zinc, protein, iron, and fiber
There’s no mystery about the health benefits of these perfectly “ normal” looking and tasting meatballs. Yet unlike those at the Italian restaurant, our meatballs are loaded with whole grains and greens. Thanks to a little help from a preschool color wheel, I found that the green disappears into the color of meaty brown when mixed well with the tomato paste. My kids love to eat these off toothpicks or smothered in red sauce on top of their favorite spaghetti. The extras save well for months in the freezer packed in a sealed plastic bag. You can gradually work up to larger amounts of sneaky puree.
Makes about 42 small meatballs
6 to 8 tablespoons Green Puree (See Make-Ahead Recipe #3)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup wheat germ, unsweetened
1 large egg, beaten
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, for browning meatballs
In a large bowl, combine the Green Puree and tomato paste, mixing well (with the back of a fork) until the green color turns brownish. Mix in salt, wheat germ, and egg, and finally add the ground meat and mix with hands until well combined. Using damp hands, pinch off about 2 teaspoons of meat and gently shape mixture into mini meatballs.
Sneaky tip: Mini one- bite meatballs work better than larger ones for hiding purees.
(Below are 2 ways to cook the meatballs, depending on how much time you have. You will definitely get out of the kitchen quicker with the oven-baked method, and the result is nearly as good as the pan frying.)
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large (10 inch or 12 inch) nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, until hot but not smoking. Add meatballs in four batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Allow to brown on all sides for about 5 minutes, turning occasionally with the help of 2 teaspoons. Reduce heat to low and cook through for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and add more oil as needed for the next batch. Serve with toothpicks as “ cocktail” meatballs, dropped in almost any soup, or smothered in Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce, (see Book 1) over spaghetti.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a large cookie sheet with 2 tablespoons of oil, gently place meatballs on sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Using a spatula to loosen, turn the meatballs over to brown on the other side, then return to oven for another 10 minutes. Serve with toothpicks as “ cocktail” meatballs, dropped in almost any soup, or smothered in Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce over spaghetti.
Enjoy in good health,
Summer is the season of family travel, which usually means more time spent in the car. With little ones (and older ones too), moms and dads need to stock up on car snacks to avoid those all-too-familiar “I’m hungry!” complaints.
2. Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins-no one gets tired of this classic taste, with a Sneaky twist! I've amped up the health factor by choosing whole grains, natural peanut butter (or a nut-free substitute), all-fruit jam, and of course, lots of sweet veggies inside. 3. Sweet & crunchy chick peas (super popular "Rattle Snacks" from my first book): Rinse a can of chick peas, spread them on a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 30 minutes (till crunchy). Season to taste with cinnamon sugar or sea salt, chili powder, etc. 4. Crunchy Snap Peas and/or Green Peas in the Shell: you may be surprised to see how kids take to these friendly green guys, even if they turn up their noses at a dinner plate with cooked peas. Popping open pods to find the sweet peas inside is as much fun as eating them!
5. Drive thru options: if you run short on rations, consider drive thru snacks that won’t transform your kids into hyper hellions five miles later. Options include BK Apple Fries & milk, Starbucks fruity smoothies, and Subway subs topped with superfood guac. 6. Popcorn: here’s a great snack to make with your kids before loading up! Let them each flavor a bag of popcorn (you can control the health factor by putting the possible seasonings on the counter). Our present favorite? A light dusting of cocoa powder & sea salt. 7. Power drink: don’t let your darlings dehydrate! Before hitting the road, load some of my “Super Sports Cubes” in their water bottles, and you’ll love what these ice cubes, made with fruit concentrates, deliver: antioxidants galore, without the sugar level of sports drinks or sodas.
... MOST OF ALL, PLEASE DRIVE DEFENSIVELY & BE SAFE!!
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