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Happy Mother's Day

I understand that all any mother of a picky eater wants is peace at the dinner table. With Sneaky recipes you can be sure your kids will love what they are eating while knowing they are getting the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow big and strong.

Here are some deliciously simple recipes that your husband and kids will be able to "surprise" you with.

Banana Berry Breakfast Crumble (20 minutes / 4 servings)

Dessert for breakfast? Sounds decadent, doesn’t it? Rest assured, this fast, fruity, and fun dish is healthier than it appears. Plus, it cooks itself so it is a perfect recipe for kids and non-cooking husbands.  


2 instant oatmeal packets, any flavor, sweetened
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
2 cups frozen mixed berries (such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries), unthawed, no added syrup or sugar
1 banana, sliced
4 teaspoons butter, diced
Optional topping: low-fat vanilla or blueberry yogurt


Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees. Spray 4 individual ramekins with oil, or for one large crisp, spray the bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish.

Empty the oatmeal packets into a mixing bowl and mix in the flax. Place about 1⁄2-cup of berries in each individual ramekin, or place all the berries in one baking dish. Add banana slices.

Sprinkle the oat mixture evenly on top of banana and berries, then dot the tops evenly with butter and lightly spray top with cooking spray oil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until topping is golden brown.

Serve warm, with a dollop of yogurt if desired.  

Tropical Breakfast Ice Cream ( 10 minutes / 2 serviings)

Tropical Breakfast Ice Cream

Yes, you read that right, ice cream for breakfast. The name alone will will send you right back to your childhood and is easy and fun to make for all! Try other frozen fruits for additional flavors.

Your food processor is the only way to puree the frozen fruit without having to add a lot of liquid — and for these small quantities, a three-cup mini food processor works best. These recipes can be quickly converted to a thinner smoothie by adding an extra ½ cup of milk to all the variations below and then mixing them in the blender.


1⁄2 cup frozen mango, no added syrup or sugar
1⁄2 cup frozen strawberries, no added syrup or sugar
1 banana, peeled and chopped frozen or fresh)
1⁄2 cup low-fat milk
1 to 2 tablespoons honey or sugar
4 wafer ice-cream honey or sugar


Fill bowl of food processor with frozen fruit and pulse several times to start the puree. Add banana, milk, and sugar and puree on high until smooth, stopping if needed to scrape down the sides of the bowl and push contents to the bottom. Ice cream will be soft—fill cones to just below the top, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze to further harden (or fill cones and serve immediately).

Hot Apple Pie Parfait (5 minutes / 2 servings)

Hot Apple Pie Parfait

Nothing beats the aroma of apples sautéing in butter and cinnamon on Mother's Day morning, especially if you are not the one cooking it!


2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 large apple, cored, and thinly sliced, ideally unpeeled or 1 packet of presliced apples, such as Mott’s®
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon or apple pie spice
1⁄2 cup low-fat granola
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed and/or wheat germ
1⁄2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt


Add butter to saucepan and melt over medium heat. Mix in the apple slices, brown sugar, and cinnamon or spice, sautéing for about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of water to pan if apple mixture gets too dry.

In parfait or serving glasses, layer granola/flax/wheat germ, yogurt, and apples as desired, and serve. 

Strawberry Short Shake (2 minutes / 2 servings)

Happy Mother's Day

We all love strawberry shortcake, so why not put that flavor in a glass? I hung a mini waffle (the “cake” part) off the side of a tall glass and stuck in a straw for extra flair. 


1⁄2 cup low-fat milk
1⁄4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1⁄4 cup low-fat strawberry yogurt
8 strawberries (about 1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen), no added syrup or sweetener
Handful of ice, if not using frozen strawberries
2 whole-grain mini waffles, toasted
Optional: whipped cream and honey or sweetener, to taste


In a blender, combine all ingredients except the waffles. Blend until smooth. Pour into tall glasses. Make a small cut in each waffle and hang off the side of each glass. Serve with straws and top with a squirt of whipped cream, if desired. Add honey or sweetener to taste, if desired.

I hope you enjoy my Sneaky Mother's Day Recipes. If you happen to try one or more, I would love to hear from you. Please share on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter if you have an account, #SneakyChef.

Keep it Sneaky!
Missy Chase Lapine
The Sneaky Chef

Enter to Win The Book!

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Sick of picky eater struggles? Parenting Magazine is giving away copies of The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue.

Go To Parenting Magazine's web page for your chance to win!

More >

I am so excited that my third book, The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue,
has just hit the (virtual) shelves! and Barnes&
have it available for immediate shipment, and the bricks and mortar
stores will be unpacking their boxes and getting them out on
display day by day!

Plus, the Associated Press just did a great article on the book.
You can read it here: Cookbook Author Up to Her Old Sneaky Tricks

As every author will attest, it feels great to have the product of
so much hard work finally be out there in the public. People start using the recipes and as the feedback starts to pour in, there's a feeling that you can finally relax
and let the food processor cool down a little. But then... the
ideas for the next book are already percolating!

Can't wait to hear from you all!

In the best of health,

Missy : )

The New York Time's Dining and Wine Section had an interesting article on the Obamas this week. Seems they're as into healthy food as we are! It's bound to have a positive affect on the nutritional awareness of  Americans, and even the world.

In a speech at the Department of Agriculture last month, Mrs. Obama described herself as “a big believer” in community gardens that provide “fresh fruits and vegetables for so many communities across this nation and world.”

The White House Chef tried sautéed spinach with olive oil and shallots, whipped into a purée. But Mrs. Obama conceded, the dish was not a hit with Sasha. No matter what you do, she said ruefully, “sometimes kids are like, ‘It’s green!’ ” Gotta' try sneaking it in, Michelle! A little green purée goes a long way :)

Book Giveaway!

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Parenting Magazine is currently giving away 10 copies of my newest book, The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue. Go to Parenting Magazine's web page to enter for your chance to win!

Good Luck!

A Fan for Many Reasons

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Dear Sneaky Chef,

Recently we made a temporary move from San Diego to the Sedona area (also known as 'the sticks') to care for my mother-in-law who has stage 4 liver cancer.  I am now cooking for 2 toddlers, one of which is very picky, my husband (who likes all of 2 vegetables), and a chemo patient who would rather eat doughnuts.  And then I found The Sneaky Chef (just now I was trying to find a Sneaky Chef page on FB to become a fan).

A  HUGE thank you.  You've just made my life considerably easier.

–A Fan for Many Reasons

Obama was referring to a simple restaurant in Chicago where they still make everything from scratch–delicious wholesome fare, at a fair price.

He is a man after my own heart. Every recipe I’ve developed for The Sneaky Chef has to pass three tests before it goes to print: first, it has to be delicious, second, it has to be packed with nutrition, and last but not least, it has to be made from accessible, real life, practical ingredients you can easily find and easily afford.

All three have to work together successfully if you’re going to feel really good about what you’re eating. A meal like this will give you the kind of deep down, lasting satisfaction that you feel all day long.

So, first, delicious. Either you really like it, or you’ll just be trying to convince yourself with every bite. If it doesn’t pass the taste test, it’s not going to be something that you’ll choose to make again.

Second, real nutrition. Our bodies and our energy levels never lie. It takes just one time to experience the difference between, say, how my Brainy Brownies (with hidden spinach and blueberries) leave you feeling, or your kids behaving, and the effect that regular brownies have.

Finally, real life ingredients you can use daily. If you have to travel to three specialty stores all over town to round up a bunch of exotic ingredients, it’s just not practical and certainly not economical. Compare that to the feeling of satisfaction you get when you can suddenly create all new nutrition-packed meals from the same store you always shop at, only now with a new eye for what you can put together quickly and easily.

At the end of the day, you’ll have made delicious, nutritious meals from readily available ingredients that leave you and your family feeling great for all the right reasons. It’s awesome having a foodie in the White House ☺

Fun Valentine's Day Recipes

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I love Valentine’s Day. It provides a great excuse to shower my husband (and my kids) with their favorite treats and surprises, and of course, lots more hugs all around :)

This year is going to be a little more challenging, though–I’ll be away on the 14th for a speaking engagement, so we have to postpone Valentine’s by one day. Postponing Valentine’s Day is not exactly the most romantic thing a person can do, but I know we’ll have lots of fun and more than make up for the short delay.

On Sunday morning, I’m planning to start the day by serving the girls and Rick a sweet and delicious Valentine’s Day red smoothie (see recipes below) from my men’s book.  Not only are these smoothies fun for the holiday, but they’re loaded with energy-boosting vitamins and nutrients that’ll give us energy for some fun outdoor activities now that the weather’s warmed up a bit.

Rick loves Sneaky Chef crab cakes (see recipes below), so I’m planning to make those for Valentine’s dinner.  They’re a yummy and low-cal way to sneak in some whole grains from the crunchy wheat germ coating and heart-healthy omega-3’s from the crab meat.  I have to run over to Costco today to get those large cans of top-rate lump crab at an affordable price!

So here’s to a healthy and happy Valentine’s Day for all of you!  Cheers!


Sneaky Chef Valentine’s Day Red Smoothie:
Makes 2 servings
1 cup frozen cherries, without syrup or added sweeteners
1 cup frozen strawberries, without syrup or added sweeteners
½ cup pomegranate juice
2 teaspoons sugar
In the container of a blender, combine the cherries, strawberries, pomegranate juice, and sugar, and pulse until smooth (add more juice if needed). Serve in a tall glass with a straw.
Sneaky Chef Concealed Crab Cakes
Makes 8 crab cakes
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 egg white
1⁄4 cup White Bean Puree
1 tablespoon Dijon or coarse-grain mustard
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1⁄3 plus 1⁄3 cup wheat germ
Freshly ground pepper
1⁄2 pound fresh lump crabmeat (about 2 cups), drained
Optional extra boost: handful of chopped green onions, celery, and/or bell peppers
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with oil.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk the egg white, then mix in the White Bean Puree, mustard, hot sauce, Old Bay, 1⁄3 cup of the wheat germ, a few grinds of pepper, and the crabmeat.
Pour the remaining 1⁄3 cup of wheat germ on a plate. Scoop about 1⁄3 cup of crab mixture and form it into a fairly thick cake. Dredge the cakes in the wheat germ, fully covering all sides of the cake, and place the crab cake on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining crab mixture. Spray the top side of the cakes with oil and bake for 10 minutes. Flip once, spray oil on the tops of the cakes, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Just Sent This to Michelle Obama

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Dear Michelle,

I wasn’t at the inauguration, but joined the millions at home who were deeply touched. I haven’t felt so much hope—and determination to do my part—in my entire life.

I have two daughters the same age as yours, so I was also happy to hear kind words addressed to Malia and Sasha during the ceremonies. Emily, Sammy and I have had some fun conversations imagining what they would do if they were transitioning to the White House! Exploring for secret passages tops the list at this point.

As the author of three Sneaky Chef recipe books, I was interested to hear that more people clicked on the recipe link for the inaugural luncheon than any other link on the inaugural website! Who can resist a good recipe? Which brings me to why I’m writing this: I’d like to share a recipe with you—or your cook-- that has been a hit with my fans. “Brainy Brownies” is the real deal: yummy, chocolaty treats. They also have a hidden purple puree that stars two nutrition superstars : blueberries and spinach!

I can guarantee that your daughters won’t detect the sneaky twist, and I’m willing to bet you’ll notice the benefits of eating a healthy, non-sugary snack. In fact, while I came up with this recipe for children, it has been just as popular with adults who need a goody that sustains energy and isn’t caloric. May I even suggest that both you and the President, with your figurative plates so full, might enjoy and benefit!

Please accept my deepest respect for what your entire family—including your mother—is willing to do for our nation. And enjoy the brownies for what they are: a delicious treat that makes life in America even sweeter and healthier.

With healthiest regards for you, your family, and all Americans,


How to Stock Your Pantry

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Rarely do I see information that is as useful as "The Minimalist" article that was posted on the front page of the New York Times Dining Section the other day. It lists fantastic healthy and tasty alternatives to so many of the canned, boxed and dried items that often clog up our pantries for months on end.

If you haven't seen it, here's the link:

It's got great, healthy substitutions for everything from bread crumbs and salad dressings to vanilla extract and canned vegetables.

Mark Bittman must have been working on this article for months in order to pull together such a great list of easy, practical and economical information. Anyone who cooks should take a minute to read through this artcile. The recommendations it contains will save you time, money, and most of all, enhance the quality and nutrition of almost any dish you make.

Thanks for the great work, Mark!

Gratitude at Year End

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As we wind down the first half of the school year, the kids are both home with the sniffles. I’m pampering them with high C treats, and I know they’ll be in high spirits for the holidays.

The fast-approaching new year makes me look back at an extraordinary 2008. Personally, I was soaring with the sneaky chef, and lots of happy home time. But what about that last quarter, that economic bruiser out of the blue? Well, here we all are...

In our house, the upside is that we find ourselves more grateful for everything in our lives on a daily basis now. We don't take things for granted like we used to. And we’ve decided to get more creative with gifts this year. It's far more than just bargain hunting. It's about making something truly meaningful from what's readily available.

I can't help but use a kitchen analogy here. Have you ever noticed how some of your greatest creations come about when you have to improvise a little bit on recipe? Maybe you’re missing an ingredient or don’t have enough of something. The recipe becomes a guide to your creation. Without it, you couldn’t have even started. But in the end, it becomes your own. There's a unique creativity that emerges. And that's where the flavor is.

While I’m still in “kitchen mode,” let me add this: I have to admit that I get completely warm and fuzzy when I think about all of the families who have invited me to join them for meals and snacks on a daily basis this past year. I am truly humbled and honored. Thank you! I'm also excited that Tyler Florence has agreed to write the forward for my next book, due out in April.  I'm finishing up the final proofreading and retesting recipes for about the sixth time! There's a media tour scheduled for April, so I'm trying to lose 5 lbs now, at the worst time of the year. But I figure this year, I'm going to outsmart the holidays in more ways than one ; )

The Making of Book 3

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I've been in New York for the past two weeks doing food photography for book #3 in the Sneaky Chef series, Sneaky Chef to the Rescue. (It's not even out for pre-order yet, but should be available in the next couple of months).

The photography of the recipes is a fascinating process. First, we actually have to make every single recipe from scratch, exactly like readers will make out of the book. All of the ingredients are identical to what's in each recipe.

There's a restaurant kitchen right inside the photo studio. Once the dish is ready, I work with a professional "food stylist" to arrange each recipe into it's own "story." To create a pic nic, for example, we have to gather a wicker basket, a plaid blanket, some colored plastic plates and glasses, etc. For other scenes, like chile cooking on the stove, we show the chile in a cast iron pot with other interesting rustic wooden service utensils and country style props in the background, slightly out of focus.

The lighting and arrangement of the whole scene is then perfected by the photographer and he takes a myriad of shots that we'll all sit around and pour through later to select the best one. The effect is what you see on the pages of magazines and in professionally done cookbooks like The Sneaky Chef. It gives the shot depth and feeling. A plain photograph of the recipe just wouldn't be nearly as interesting or inspiring to the reader.

So the next time you're looking at a beautiful photograph of sneakily fortified birthday cake with a piece cut out to reveal the delicious layers within, and all of the party favors in the room all around, just slightly out of focus, you'll be able to see behind the scene and appreciate each shot is its own work of art : )

Sneaky Halloween Help

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With Halloween fast approaching, I’d like to share some sneaky tips to help families get through this nutritionally rough holiday:
-Don’t buy Halloween candy early – get it a day before – that’ll prevent eating it before the 31st.
-Give kids a good dinner (high protein and fiber) before they go out trick or treating  - this will keep them full and prevent overeating candy during the evening; examples of a good dinner are whole grain pasta with turkey meatballs or meatsauce – loaded with pureed veggies in the sauce.
-If your kids want to eat candy throughout their time trick or treating, give them a lollipop to suck – this will keep their mouths happy for very few calories (it’s a trick I use on myself when I take the kids out – so this mom doesn’t nibble too much candy!).
-After Halloween, give away a handful of candy everyday until it magically disappears – tossing the entire bag out at once will cause a riot. Allow kids to eat a piece or two of candy a day.
-To avoid temptation, keep the candy somewhat out of sight (and hopefully out of mind) – not in clear glass bowls/jars out on the counter.

Season of Change

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Lately there's a feeling to get back into the kitchen.  Our outdoor barbeque has been covered for the season, and it's easily cool enough to cook inside again.  But my urge to cook is coming from more than just the change in temperature. My two girls are back in their school routine, and they seem like they need an extra special touch of "mommy love" from me by the end of the day. It's now that I start to really put all of the extras that I can come with into every lunch I send with them, every dinner they come home to, and every snack that meets them at the door.
When I go to meet their school bus at the end of the day, the leaves around us seem to be hinting about starting to fall. The kid's demanding schedules are again ruling the days, and food seems to have  retaken its primary role of feeding their souls, as well as their bodies.

I watch all of the neighborhood kids around me, and it's obvious that transitions can be hard on them, even if they're confident like my daughter, Sammy. The first days of school can bring out snarls and growls and sometimes mysterious bad moods.  I've learned that responding with a barrage of words can be less effective than giving them a bit of space to relax, and bowl of warm soup to help them find their center again.

Plates of warm, sneakily enhanced chocolate chip cookies get devoured in the neighborhood in a matter of minutes, and the effect on the kids is wonderful. I remember that feeling when we were kids–playing hard, and my mother somehow knowing that we were hungry, even if we weren't aware of it, then magically appearing with a plateful of warm, delicious treats that made us feel so good inside. But it wasn't the food–I think mostly it was because she knew something about us that we weren't aware of ourselves, and we knew that she was always there, looking out for us.
Warm, nutritious foods, delivered at just the right moment, made us feel safe and happy and cared for, and there are few gifts I now enjoy giving as much as healthy, deliciously homemade treats for everyone around me.

Olympic Moms

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How inspiring was this year's olympics!? I watched with my family from high in the mountains of Colorado, along with the rest of the country, while the astonishing Michael Phelps made history. But my attention was also very much on the 22 mothers who were competing in the olympics. There was the 33 year old mother and gymnast who medaled against world class athletes half her age or less. Even more captivating was 41 year old gold medalist and mother, Dara Torres, swimming against 16 year olds. I had no idea that there were 22 olympic athlete moms. Mothers competing against the world's greatest athletes? I can't tell you how inspiring that is.
My entire family was inspired. We biked and hiked and swam like we never have before. There was an advertisement on during the events that said that there is one marathon more grueling than any olympic event: being a mother. I loved seeing that ad. I think about the incredible discipline and focus that must be required to be an olympian, and then I think about how much the average mom has to do to raise children, and often maintain a career on top of it, in today's world. It's pretty much a toss up in my book.
While watching these olympics, I renewed my commitment to do at least one full hour a day of real exercise. I know that doesn't sound like much in comparison to what these olympic moms are doing, but it'll be great for me, and for my relationship with my family. Between the new tae kwon do classes with my daughter, Sammy, walking the hills around my home, and tennis a few times a week, I am determined to   increase my energy for life. I know I am so much more productive with regular exercise, and my relationships with my family and friends always improve as well.  
Thank you, olympic moms, for inspiring us all.

Tae Kwon Do with the Kids

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My youngest daughter Sammy, who turns 8 this week, started tae kwon do lessons last month. It’s a great fit for my “warrior” daughter: she is one of those super-balanced, coordinated types, with a big need to take on life physically. To say she gets “a bang” out of life would be an understatement.

Watching her from the sidelines, I saw that the lessons were fast-paced, non-stop action, though the instructor also sneaked in a few words here and there on the higher ideals of the sport: self control, respect for others, perseverance, integrity, courtesy… I smiled, realizing that I’m not the only one sneaking in the good-for-you ingredients into a yummy-for-you deal. Seriously, though, I appreciated that my daughter was embracing a whole new level of ethics without the resistance a lecture at home or school would have triggered.

Three weeks ago, the instructor invited me into the class! Uh, wait a minute…I was comfortable watching my warrior girl, and letting this be her thing. Did I really want to join the action? But Sammy seemed happy to include me in, and before I knew it, I was throwing kicks and learning blocks with the rest of them. I'm not only getting into some of the best physical shape I've enjoyed in a long while, but Sammy and I have bonded in whole new way. I can't say enough good things about it. I’m also enjoying those little lectures on higher ideals. They slip right in.

I’m going to whip up some sneaky chef dish to commemorate this great experience–maybe Karate Kakes or something like that. With that name, I know Sammy will like them no matter what I put in them!  See you on the mats! 


By Emily Chase Lapine, Age 10

Have you ever wondered what our world will be like in 100 or so years, if we don’t act fast about landfills, global warming, and the environment in general? “Nobody knows what is going to happen” says environmentalist John Mape. “But whatever is we are doing the best we can to stop it.”  Every day you are polluting greenhouse gasses in to the air which come from cars, planes, factories, ect... But also every day you are helping the environment without even knowing it? We can not just stop driving our cars in a matter of one day to stop pollution, but we can cut back on a lot of things that we do that effect the environment. For example we can buy cars that are better for the environment because they travel on less gas, and pollute less.

Read on to find some easy ways you can help the environment and ways you are already helping the environment!
Easy ways you can help the environment

Helping the environment is not a big task. Most people think that helping the environment just stay clean takes up every minute of your life. But you really can help so much in your daily life without even noticing. Here are some ways that you can go green the easy way!

Did you know that when you stop buying cd’s and download music to your I-Pod or MP3 player you are already helping the environment. By not buying cd’s you are not throwing away so much stuff. Especially throwing away cd’s because the take so, so, so long to disintegrate and when they finally do they leak a toxic acid which is very, very harmful to the environment.

Also when you buy stuff and sell stuff on Ebay you are also helping the environment, because you are not throwing away your stuff like furniture, electronics, and tons of other stuff. Do you know how much that helps our environment?   

My friend Olivia says, “People don’t care enough about the environment to understand that our world is getting ruined by littering and air pollution as we speak.” Well Olivia is right, we don’t care enough about our environment to take time and actually think about what is happening to the world. If you want to help stop the global warming and all of the stuff that is hurting our world, take a day and go help clean up a local park and do some other stuff to help the environment. Just remember that you can make a difference.

Air pollution

Air pollution is also a big problem for our world. Studies show the biggest ways of traveling are by car, and by plane which is not very good for our environment. All things that run on fuel, which produce pollution are destroying our world. Cars are an important part of life for most people. But cars also release pollution and greenhouse gasses in to the air. Fortunately, car manufacturers are making cars better for the environment by making them run on battery and less gasoline called Hybrids. They don’t pollute as much as regular cars, using these cars can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the air.

Factories and transportation depend on huge amounts of fuel, billions of tons of coal and oil are consumed around the world every year. When these fuels burn they introduce smoke and other less visible by-products in to the atmosphere. Although wind and rain occasionally wash away the smoke and other bad stuff in the air from power plants and automobiles it still effects our world. The cumulative effect of air pollution gives a great threat to humans and the environment.

How it effects our world

I bet you didn’t know that everyday one small Ice berg melts, every month a chunk of the North Pole floats away, and every 5 years a glacier melts. The point is that global warming is just bad and so is air pollution and all of those other things in the world that are bad for the environment. I wrote this article to get people to start helping and actually know what is happening to our environment every single day. Just know that every person counts.

The cover of Time Magazine caught my eye yesterday: on it was a clearly overweight boy with a double scoop ice cream cone, standing on a stressed out skateboard sagging under his weight. The magazine dedicated almost 40 pages to “our super-sized kids,” addressing “the most important public health problem facing the country today.”
The article, written in Time Magazine on June 12, is called, How America's Children Packed On the Pounds by Jeffrey Kluger. It provides an excellent history on how America’s kids have arrived at the state they’re currently in.
I picked up the issue and devoured it in one sitting. Overall, Time’s coverage gets high marks. But there were some blind spots:  “If you can’t be bothered to hunt up some veggies (…) now and then, your weight problems are you own,” stated one journalist. While I agree that eating veggies instead of processed foods is one of the most important ways to help kids lose weight, our kids don’t always agree with this ideal–I don’t know when the last time was that I last saw my daughters or their friends on a veggie safari, stalking celery in the fridge. Realistically, I think we’d better find new and exciting ways to get the veggies from the fridge into our children’s tummies, and in my unbiased (ahem…) opinion, the Sneaky Chef way is probably the easiest and most effective.
In fact, a recent study at Penn State University showed that calories and fat can be significantly reduced by simply substituting some veggies into meals that kids already like to eat.
In the Time article, there are three two page, full color, double spread images–real eye candy. The first features a typical cafeteria meal from the 1950’s. The second is a photo of a typical cafeteria meal today, and the third is an idealistic cafeteria tray of the future. We need figure out how to get to that ideal from where we are.
The first tray has pot roast with gravy flanked by mashed potatoes with butter, peas and corn, and a slice of buttered bread; a cup of whole milk; an apple; and for dessert, ice cream.
On the next photo spread is typical, modern day fare: nachos with cheese and salsa, refried beans, Mexican rice, a couple of chocolate chip cookies, and canned peaches for dessert. Hmmm, definitely appealing, but with alarming amounts of fat, sodium and calories that are far from healthy–unless, that is, we do a Sneaky Chef makeover. For example, I’ve got special recipes for nachos, chocolate chip cookies and salsa that will cut the unhealthy elements of those dishes in half, while adding beans, fruits and vegetables that will be eaten with a smile! Pardon me for tooting my own horn here, but this just seems so obvious. Is there any reason not to make these dishes the healthy way?
Flip to the next page, and we’re into the idyllic imaginary future, which represents the perfect meal for our ideally healthy children: a turkey wrap with whole wheat tortilla, vegetable soup swimming with whole vegetables, raw carrot sticks with dip, a bunch of grapes and a handful of strawberries. Things I personally love to eat, but kids’ palates today have been trained to prefer higher fat, more processed “fun” foods rather than these wholesome foods in their natural states. As beautiful as the spread looks, I can’t think of many children who will find it palatable (unless they augment the meal at a few vending machines).
Turning back one page to the previous photo spread of today’s classic meal, we find ourselves where our kids really are today in terms of what they’ll actually eat. What’s needed are transitional recipes that will take them from where they are to where they need to be. We have a tool to change our present day predicaments into opportunities to feed our kids wholesome foods that they’ll actually eat with Sneaky Chef makeovers.

Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition at New York University is quoted in the article as saying, “I would look for little ways to introduce more fruits, whole grains and veggies into these diets.” I wholeheartedly agree, and I think I know a way…
As a sneaky chef you are addressing this problem head on in a way that ensures success.

Food Bank of Westchester
Hunger Heroes Third Annual Breakfast
June 11, 2008

Missy Chase Lapine, The Sneaky Chef

When I told my kids I was speaking at a superheroes breakfast this morning, my youngest asked me if I wanted to borrow her Spiderman costume! When I further explained that these were not comic characters, but rather heroes because of their ongoing support of The Food Bank for Westchester, she remarked that she had no idea what kind of costumes those heroes wear. I promised her a picture when I got home. From up here, even without your costumes, you all look like heroes to me.

I would like to thank Christina Ro-hay-tinski, Judy Matson, Marie Rossi, and the other leaders of the The Food Bank for Westchester for this privilege. I would also like to recognize the sponsors and award winners of the Food Bank here today, without whose dedication and vision The Food Bank would not have the success it has to date in combating the hunger around us. Supporters such as you all have come together to move mountains -- mountains of food that is, to make sure the hungry get fed.

To be able to participate in an event this important - so close to my home - is both an honor and a stark reality. When I spoke with friends about the event and the organization, it was met with a response that I am certain the Food Bank has heard more than a few times.  “You mean that there are actually hungry people in Westchester County, one of the most affluent counties in the country?” People were stunned to learn of such an organization right in the middle of our comfortable neighborhood.

Certainly many of us grew up hearing the line, “eat your veggies, there are starving children in Africa,” How about eat your veggies there are starving children in Westchester County? From the outside it would seem this is a problem that can be solved by throwing bags of overproduced or undersold food products at it.

However, as I studied more about the organization, I realized that the problem runs much deeper than just a bag of groceries for those who cannot afford to buy them, and that hunger is not just lack of food. In more cases that not, it is a lack of the right foods -- the ones that fuel health, growth, and energy needed by all of us to simply keep up with the demands of our daily lives.

I personally struggled with the request of being the guest speaker today. My main work to date, including two books published, with a third on the way, is dealing with the opposite of what we are here today to support.

The Sneaky Chef deals with children who are overfed, yet undernourished - who are literally fighting to keep the good stuff off their plates. What credential do I have to stand up here and talk about children that don’t have such options? As I came to understand this process more clearly, I ultimately realized the common denominator in both cases is children who are undernourished. Whether in abundance or scarcity, far too many children, and many adults are undernourished today in our modern and plentiful world.

The Sneaky Chef work has been so focused on good nutrition that it is easy to forget that feeding the hungry is a primary need, even when the nutrition must be subordinated to satisfying that hunger.  But can we do both? Can we help advance the cause of not only feeding the hungry, but also making that food more nutritious and more palatable?

My first focus in The Sneaky Chef is on children who are our future. Good nutrition is the must-have-ticket to think straight, grow straight and stay on the straight and narrow.  We want to raise children whose brains are functioning at a level that helps them to be creative, honest, productive members of society. It’s easy to think that drugs and alcohol are the evils that lead our kids astray, but lack of good nutrition fails to fuel the growth that children need to make the proper choices later in life.

A study was done by Oxford University in the late 1990’s. They studied prisoners in England where half were given fish oil and vitamins and the other half placebos. The group given the fish oil showed a marked reduction in violence, specifically 35% fewer violent incidents than the group that was fed placebos. Could proper feeding of the hungry have that much impact on health and behavior? Absolutely.

Research has shown time again, that children who eat a good breakfast have better standardized test scores, better behavior, and are less hyperactive than children who skip breakfast.

Fast forward that into adult lives and understand this basic rule never changes. Even if we can supply foods for breakfast to the hungry, our work cannot be done until we have also helped the hungry understand how to maximize the food they receive. And it’s not just empty stomachs equal empty brains. The wrong food can often have even more devastating life effects. For example, obesity and a lifetime of health issues associated with it, comes more times than not from a lack of good nutrition, as opposed to overabundance of food. Simply put, eating without proper balance is a prescription for so many problems and challenges to everyone, not just the underfed.

I have devoted myself to simplifying this seemingly daunting task of implementing nutrition in every meal. Let’s do our own experiment today. Under normal banquet conditions the bread basket in front of you would contain just enough carbs, sugar and fat to make you feel satisfied as you listen to the speeches and awards. Today’s basket, however, is an example that good nutrition can happen anywhere, at any time. The chocolate, blueberry and banana muffins were prepared with the Sneaky Chef method, which substitutes blueberries, spinach, white beans, yams, carrots, wheat germ and oat bran. You didn’t realize you have been eating a salad of healthy ingredients hidden in a bread basket.

Feeding the hungry and teaching good nutrition simultaneously is not an easy task, but with knowledge you can help people turn every meal in one worth eating.

My dear friend is a chef whose tag line is “never waste a meal.” Well I say never waste a chance to make a meal as beneficial and as nurturing as it can be. I believe you will see from your bread basket indulgences this morning that the protein and fiber from the whole grains and veggies will keep you satisfied until lunchtime, or at least awake throughout my speech!

On the contrary, giving your children, or feeding the hungry for that matter, sugary breakfast cereal or white flour pancakes with syrup, will leave them hungry, tired and foggy thinking by mid morning. With the Sneaky Chef method you can take those most fundamental of American foods and use ingredients - basic every day ones, not just expensive ones, and enhance the results for child and adult alike. High glycemic sugary foods leave people hungrier – and this is not the result a family whose cupboards are bare needs after a meal.

For example, a simple can of beans, one of the most commonly donated foods the warehouse receives, can be hidden into a multitude of simple meals, and increase the value and results of every bite. You need simply mash them with the back of a fork and mix them into the tomato sauce that goes on the pasta, or into the mac ‘n cheese, and you have complemented the protein of a carbohydrate meal, giving it twice the normal staying power as well as twice the nutrients.  With this kind of awareness, we have the chance to prove that food supplies and knowledge are critical partners to eradicating hunger and undernourishment.

My message is about teaching people that a can of beans for .69 cents is worth a great deal more to a life than a bag of potato chips that costs three dollars. It is not abundance that will stamp out hunger and malnutrition, it is balance that can have a lasting impact on the undernourished in our county, and in our world.

The problem is that empty foods are cheaper, more accessible and seemingly more filling. But that destructive cycle of malnourishment and lower enrichment, is met with quicker hunger after a meal and the loop never ends. This is what we have to combat. It is not enough just to fill their bellies. It is our job to help create a healthier population, can by can, box by box.

This education is already being addressed here with the successful Steps Program and Kids Café.  We need to teach people how to fish, and not just give them fish. Let’s teach our beneficiaries how to use what’s being given to improve and enhance every opportunity they have.

I had the opportunity to volunteer with my husband and daughters this past Saturday in the Food Bank warehouse, helping sort and repack individual donations. I had the chance to work side-by-side with several other families who brought nothing with them into the room but the understanding of the urgency of keeping this organization and the people it serves moving. And that is how you come into the picture today.

You are either here to be recognized for your contribution to this most worthy and urgent of causes, or have indicated support, and today are being encouraged to step up the level of your game.

So let’s take the next step together.  Let’s help those who can’t acquire the food on their own not only have access to the proper foods needed to promote health and well being, but also to use them in a way that will increase the yield of vitamins and fibers, and increase the chances of the next day in their lives being one step healthier and wiser.

We have an obligation not just to give them that bag of food, but also the education to go along with it. Let’s add that knowledge in the most accessible form possible, to the cartons and bags of food we provide, so even a grade-schooler can understand. My challenge is to make the most of every single can and every single meal.

Let’s teach healthy recipes using simple cooking techniques and a few basic ingredients like brown rice, beans, sweet potatoes, yams, and leafy greens.

And for those parents who work all day and oftentimes into the evening, let’s teach them how to leave snacks and meals for their loved ones that will enrich their lives, not just convenience foods that can rob them of the good nutrition they deserve to have. One of the main themes of my books is how easy it is to compete with the convenience foods. Let’s pass that message around.

What is happening in this organization, and in sister organizations around the country, is crucial and special. And looking out at a room filled with passionate people like you makes me believe anything we dream is possible.

It is a privilege for me to be invited to talk with people at your level of intellect and success. I am proud to join with you in support of this organization devoted to such a high calling as the care of the needy in our own community. Whether it is Westchester or the world, the drive must be in all of us to care for the hungry as we care for ourselves.

Thank you.

A Real Father's Day Gift

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I was thinking hard about what to do for my devoted husband Rick for Father's Day this year, as I do every year. This took some real soul searching as it seems to only get harder to think of something that he'll actually value. I can't say that he has everything, but it seems that he already has everything that he wants. He's told me that all he really wants is a little extra love and attention from us, but I've never really accepted that as true until now.

So what can we give our guys that money can't buy? How about his favorite meals, made way healthier with the same great taste. They can buy their toys if they want to, and they usually have such a particular idea in mind of what they want that it would better for us not to even try.

Why my new-found understanding? It seems ironic when I think about it, but it's really been through cooking special meals for Rick, and observing the reactions my friends were getting from their husbands, that I've come to experience this first hand. This is not a theory I would have come up with. It's a genuine observation. I know that when I stopped nagging Rick and started simply tweaking his favorite meals to make them healthier, it was the best gift I could give him. Devoting ourselves to cooking our guy's favorite meals for them shows them that we love them in a very satisfying way. Going to the extra effort of figuring out how to make their favorites healthier, but still taste as good as it always does, adds another layer of love and appreciation that they feel, since it shows that we care for their health as well.

So that's how I settled on crab cakes for dinner on Father's Day. Rick loves crab cakes but unfortunately they're usually loaded with fat. Here they are with a lightly spiced tangy mayo-mustard flavor (see below for recipe)*. And then I thought about what the kids might be able to make on their own to serve to their dad breakfast for in bed. They could make a breakfast fruit smoothie. Smoothie ingredients would be easy for me to prepare ahead of time, so that all the kids would have to is load the fresh fruit chunks in the blender with some fresh juice and turn it on. Rick loves smoothies in the morning.

So that's how Father's Day is going to get off to a great start this year. Two of his favorite meals made healthy and delicious. The rest will take care of itself, I just know it.

Happy Father's Day : )

Missy Chase Lapine
The Sneaky Chef

*Click here to order my Men's Book with another 125 recipes for classic guy foods made healthier.

Concealed Crab Cakes

I can’t think of a tastier way to give your man a good dose of fiber and omega-3s than with these authentic yet low-fat crab cakes. Put on a Jimmy Buffet disc and your favorite sundress and you’ll feel like you’re in Key West for a romantic getaway.

Makes 8 crab cakes
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1 egg white
1⁄4 cup White Bean Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe #9)
1 tablespoon Dijon or coarse-grain mustard
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1⁄3 plus 1⁄3 cup wheat germ
Freshly ground pepper
1⁄2 pound fresh lump crabmeat (about 2 cups), drained
Optional extra boost: handful of chopped green onions, celery, and/or bell peppers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with oil.
In a medium-size bowl, whisk the egg white, then mix in the White Bean Puree, mustard, hot sauce, Old Bay, 1⁄3 cup of the wheat germ, a few grinds of pepper, and the crabmeat.
Pour the remaining 1⁄3 cup of wheat germ on a plate. Scoop about 1⁄3 cup of crab mixture and form it into a fairly thick cake. Dredge the cakes in the wheat germ, fully covering all sides of the cake, and place the crab cake on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining crab mixture. Spray the top side of the cakes with oil and bake for 10 minutes. Flip once, spray oil on the tops of the cakes, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Serve cakes with a lemon wedges and Side of Slaw

The Sneaky Chef is available at fine booksellers everywhere: