The Sneaky Chef

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Having a party this July 4th? One of my favorite party appetizers is Crab Cakes, but traditional recipes can be high in fat and calories. So this year, I'm getting sneaky with my Crab Cakes and replacing high fat mayo with my simple puree of white beans. I also snuck in some amazingly healthy wheat germ instead of empty white bread crumbs. My family loves these, especially my husband Rick! When I eat them, I feel like I'm on a romantic tropical getaway in Key West. 

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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.

 Wake Dad this Father’s Day with a warm homemade Breakfast Cookies ’n milk!  So quick and easy, even the kids can make – with a little help from mom. 

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BREAKFAST COOKIES

Makes 16 to 18 cookies

2 cups whole grain cereal flakes

3/4 cup Flour Blend (equal parts all-purpose flour and whole grain 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 part-skim ricotta cheese

Cinnamon sugar for dusting

 

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.

 

Sneaky Tip: Cinnamon has been found to help stabilize blood-glucose levels, thereby preventing the usual “ crash and burn” feeling we all get after eating sweets.


What better way to kick off summer than with berries? Here are three deliciously healthy ways to enjoy the freshest produce of the season, from my BBQ E-book. Enjoy your weekend! 

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 STRAWBERRY LIME SLUSHY

Makes 3 servings

2 tablespoons pomegranate or cranberry juice

Juice of one lime (about 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice)

2 tablespoons sugar, ideally raw

2 cups fresh, sliced strawberries

3 to 4 cups ice cubes

Fill blender or food processor with pomegranate (or cranberry) and lime juices, first, then sugar, strawberries, and ice. Blend or puree until thick and smooth, stopping to mix contents and push ice to bottom, if needed.

Serve in a tall glass with a straw.

  

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FOUR BERRY ICE CUBES

These berry ice cubes instantly convert plain water or seltzer into a naturally low sugar sports drink. As these purple cubes melt, they release a sweet burst of berry flavor.

Makes about 20 standard size ice cubes

1 cup fresh or frozen mixed berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 1Ž2 cups coconut water, berry or any flavor

1 to 2 tablespoons honey, to taste

 

Combine berries, lemon juice, coconut water, and honey in a blender and puree until smooth.

Pour the mixture (over a bowl) through a fine mesh stainless steel strainer to remove the seeds and pulp (you can save the strained pulp and add it to smoothies within next few days).

Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Add two or three cubes per glass of cold water or seltzer.

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BBQ Sneaky Turkey Burgers

Makes 4 burgers 

¼ cup Sneaky Chef Purple Puree 

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon chili each chili powder and onion powder

½ teaspoon salt and a few turns of freshly ground pepper

½ cup ground oats (ground in a food processor or blender) or ground flaxseed

1 pound ground turkey (ideally white meat, or a mix of light and dark meat)

4 whole grain English Muffins

Optional topping ideas: tomato slices, pickles, cheese, onions, mustard, ketchup

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the Purple Puree, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Add in the oats and ground turkey, mixing until combined (easiest to mix using your hands). Dampen hands and form into 4 equal sized balls, then gently press into patties, about ½ to ¾-inch thick.

Preheat an outdoor grill (or indoor grill pan) to medium-high and brush or wipe both the grill and both sides of the burgers generously with oil.

Grill burgers for 7 to 8 minutes on each side until cooked through and no longer pink inside (or until burgers reach internal temp of 160 degrees Fahrenheit). 

Serve on warmed English Muffins (or hamburger buns) with optional toppings. 

My Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter (made from golden peas) works as a great substitute for peanut butter in Asian sauces like in my these Cold Sesame Noodles. But instead of using soy sauce in my recipe, I often use tamari if I'm cooking gluten-free. This sauce is great for a variety of asian recipes, from noodles to stir-frys. 

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Gluten-Free No-Nut Asian Sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

 3 tablespoons tamari sauce

1⁄3 cup Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter

1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar

 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, to taste

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, tamari sauce, No-Nut Butter, and vinegar. Add red pepper flakes to taste.

It's officially Allergy Awareness Week, so I'm putting the spotlight on allergy-free recipes. I've found that many granola bar recipes contain dairy products, like milk or butter. That's why I created this recipe that's kind of like a cross between a granola bar and a Rice Crispy Treat that's dairy-free, as well as egg and gluten-free too. 

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Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free Granola Bars

(Makes 24 bars)
2 cups cornflakes, crushed to about 1 cup
1/2 cup Ground Almonds 

2 cups crispy brown rice cereal (or Rice Krispies)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Optional extra boost: 1/4 cup raisins or dried blueberries

Sneaky tip: Measure the oil first, then the honey. This way the honey won’t stick and will slide right out of the measuring cup.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square or 7-by-11 inch baking pan completely with parchment paper or foil and butter the foil (or spray with oil).

In a medium bowl, combine crushed cornflakes, almonds, rice cereal, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in the canola or vegetable oil, honey, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips (and/or dried fruit, optional). Mix well, then pour into the prepared baking pan. Press down with palm of hand, evenly distributing the mixture into the corners of the dish and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Check occasionally to prevent burning.
Remove from the oven and using the foil to help you, lift the entire bar out of pan. Place on a flat surface and while still warm, cut into small bars.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze in plastic bags.

This week is Allergy Awareness Week, and today I want to focus on Egg Allergies.   I love this recipe for Eggless Pancakes because I know that getting any rise out of a pancake without eggs is a true feat of nature. 

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 EGGLESS PANCAKES

Makes about 18 pancakes

1 cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend 

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup low-fat buttermilk*

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Optional extras: one-half cup fresh or frozen blueberries or chocolate chips

*if you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by mixing 1 cup of low-fat milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice; let stand 5 minutes

Mix together Flour Blend, baking soda, and salt. Set aside, if using immediately. (To store for later use, triple the dry ingredients and keep in a sealed, labeled plastic bag. You’ll have instant pancake mix anytime you want it.)

In another bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones until just blended. If the batter is too thick, add a little more buttermilk. Add the optional blueberries or chocolate chips, if desired. (If using frozen berries, don’t thaw them before adding; this will prevent bleeding) and mix lightly.

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

Drop tablespoons or small ladles of batter onto the skillet in batches. When bubbles begin to set around the edges of the pancake and the skillet-side is golden (peek under), gently flip them over. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the pancake is set.

Serve stacked high drizzled with warm maple syrup. 

Happy Mother's Day, Sneaky Chefs! Give mom the gift of peace at the table and a healthy meal kids will actually eat and love with some Sneaky Chef Foods – available at many stores nationwide (enter zip code here to find store near you)

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Plus give a simple recipe that Dad and the kids can whip up:

Apply Pie Parfait
(Makes 2 servings)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 large apple, cored, and thinly sliced, ideally unpeeled
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 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 necessary, if apple mixture gets too dry.
In parfait or serving glasses, layer granola/flax/wheat germ, yogurt, and apples as desired, and serve.


I'm playing around with Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter (peanut butter alternative made from golden peas). It works as a beautiful substitute for peanut butter in Asian sauces like these Cold Sesame Noodles (with half the fat of your local take-out!). 

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Cold Sesame Noodles

(Makes 6 servings)

 

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1⁄3 cup Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter

1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar

 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, to taste

1 pound Asian noodles or Sneaky Chef Veggie Spaghetti, cooked

Optional extra boost: 3 green onions, thinly sliced; 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds; and/or sliced cucumber strips

 

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, No-Nut Butter, and vinegar. Add red pepper flakes to taste.

Put the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the sauce over the pasta, tossing to coat the pasta evenly. Garnish with sliced green onions, cucumber, and sesame seeds, if using. Refrigerate until cool, or feel free to serve it warm.

 

Enjoy!

 

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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Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 10.18.22 AM.png

 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.

The Sneaky Chef is available at fine booksellers everywhere: