Results tagged “healthy kids recipes” from The Sneaky Chef

 

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Nutrition Highlights: Fruit, calcium, and probiotics
The name alone makes kids giggle and school mornings go a bit smoother. Your kids will think you’re the best when you call them into the kitchen for their morning “ ice cream” ! These two-minute recipes are fun enough to entice even the grumpiest kids. This is the only way I get my youngest daughter, Samantha, to eat anything in the morning!

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:

Each variation below serves 2 children

Chocolate Banana Breakfast Ice Cream
1 frozen banana, cut in pieces (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (use Greek yogurt if you want extra protein)
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder


No-Nut Butter n Banana Breakfast Ice Cream

1 frozen banana, cut in pieces (about 1 cup)
1-2 tablespoons Sneaky Chef No-Nut Butter (new! check it out here) or use peanut butter, optional
1 - 2 tablespoon milk
 

Really Easy Strawberry Breakfast Ice Cream 
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, without syrup or added sweeteners
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon honey or sugar

Extra Sneaky Strawberry Breakfast Ice Cream
1/4 ripe avocado
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, without syrup or added sweeteners
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (use Greek yogurt if you want extra protein)
1 tablespoon honey or sugar

Banana Breakfast Ice Cream
1 frozen banana, cut in pieces (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons plain yogurt (use Greek yogurt if you want extra protein)
1 tablespoon honey or sugar

Note: If you prefer to use sweetened yogurt (the vanilla flavored yogurt works well with all of the above), you probably won’t need the extra sugar or honey.

 

 

Easter Recipes and Treats

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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!
strawberry cupcake etc.jpgSneaky ‘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.

Happy Easter!
 

Christmas Morning Smoothie

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Christmas Cookies 00243rt.jpgHappy 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,
Missy
 

7 Kid-Friendly Car Snacks

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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. 

 
I’ve picked out my 7 favorite kid-friendly car snacks for you to bring or buy on your next family car ride. They are non-perishable, so you don’t have to squeeze a cooler into cramped quarters. Best of all, they are healthy and wholesome, not loaded with sugars, additives, and fats. So take a few moments in the kitchen to sweeten up your next road trip, while avoiding sugar spikes on the turnpikes! 
 
1. Grab N Go Crispy Granola Bars: this bar does it all, with a boost of whole grains, fiber, and calcium. The optional dark chocolate chips aren’t so optional in our family! 
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 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.PB&J muffins smaller.jpg 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.chickpeas roasted.jpg 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!
snap peas.jpg5. 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.BK-AppleFries.jpg 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.Popcorn_00004.jpg 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.
ice cubes 4 berry smaller.jpg... MOST OF ALL, PLEASE DRIVE DEFENSIVELY & BE SAFE!!
HAPPY TRAILS.

 

lunch box istock small for website.jpgIt's back-to-school time and that means we need ideas for simple recipes to make-ahead and put in the lunch box...my kids love a change from boring sandwiches - here are some fun options using my Sneaky Chef Orange Puree (carrots and sweet potatoes) and other nutritious boosts:

LUNCH BOX MUFFINS – MAC ‘N CHEESE FLAVOR
These are a handy lunch box alternative to sandwiches and loaded with hidden veggies! The Sneaky Chef mac 'n cheese formula is tried and true, and this turns it into a hand-held meal that can be popped into the kids’ lunch boxes. No fork is needed as they are eaten just like a muffin. (For some reason, children prefer to give up flatware whenever they can and eat with their hands.) Kids don't mind them cold. Make ahead and freeze, take them out and put into the fridge the night before, and you are set to go.
mac cheese muffins 00117rt web.jpgMakes 8 muffins
4 large eggs
1 cup Orange Puree or baby food carrot puree
2 cups low-fat shredded cheese
2 cups cooked macaroni
Salt and pepper, to taste

Below are two ways to cook the muffins:

Oven baked method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper liners. Lightly spray liners with oil.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and Orange Puree. Mix in the macaroni and ¾ cup of the cheese. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 muffin cups. Top each with about one tablespoon of cheese and bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly on top. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Microwave method:
Line 8 microwave safe ramekins or custard cups with paper muffin liners. Lightly spray liners with oil.

In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and Orange Puree. Mix in the macaroni and ¾ cup of the cheese. Divide the mixture evenly among the 8 lined ramekins. Top each with about one tablespoon of cheese and microwave on high for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

SNEAK-WICHES
By now you know what a fan I am of taking time to make things ahead so they are ready to grab when we’re in a rush. “Sneak-wiches” are a good example of this method. Much like the packaged versions in the grocery store, this is a homemade, healthier version of the conveniently made-ahead sandwich that you keep in the freezer. The key is to remove the crusts of the bread and crimp together the edges to “seal” the sandwich together. I suggest making several sandwiches at a time, and freeze each individually in a plastic bag. There are several filling options below.

Makes 1 sandwich
2 slices sandwich bread, ideally whole grain
Choose fillings below
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Filling options: mix puree with other ingredient, then spread on each side of bread
-one tablespoon each Orange Puree and Tomato Sauce plus 1-2 tablespoons cheese
-one tablespoon each Orange Puree (or White Bean Puree) and peanut butter, plus jam, if desired
-one tablespoon each Cherry or Strawberry Puree and light cream cheese
-one tablespoon each Orange Puree and shredded cheese plus 1-2 slices ham
-one tablespoon light cream cheese mixed with mashed sardines (and/or tuna fish)
-one tablespoon each Green Puree and mashed avocado, plus cucumber slices if desired

Trim crust off bread. Use a rolling pin to roll out each slice of bread on a cutting board until flattened (alternatively, use the palm of your hand to flatten the bread). In a small bowl, mix the filling ingredients. Spread about a tablespoon of the fillings on each flattened slice of bread, keeping about 1⁄4 inch away from the edges. Crimp the edges together with your fingers, then put sandwich in a plastic bag and freeze until ready to eat. Put in lunch box frozen and it will defrost by lunch time.

 

PORTABLE PIZZA MUFFINS
These are great for the lunch box, especially for kids who are tired and bored with sandwiches. They get three top-notch veggies, three whole grains, calcium, and protein all in a portable package of a muffin. Kids love anything called "pizza." They are also a great after school snack.

Makes 8 muffins
1 cup Flour Blend (equal parts whole grain flour, white flour and wheat germ)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon each salt and dried oregano and/or basil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
¼ cup tomato paste plus 3 tablespoons tomato paste (for the tops)
½ cup Orange Puree or baby food carrot puree
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Optional extra boost: 1 cup chopped mushrooms, onions, and/or olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 12-muffin pan or line with paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together the Flour Blend, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oregano (and/or basil). In another large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, canola or vegetable oil, ¼ cup of the tomato paste, Orange Puree, and grated Parmesan cheese until well combined. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until the flour is just moistened. Stir in optional extras, if using. Don’t over mix.

Divide the batter evenly among the 8 muffin cups. Top each muffin with a dollop (teaspoon) of tomato paste and about one tablespoon of grated mozzarella.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn the muffins out of the tins to cool or serve warm.


NO-BAKE PEANUT BUTTER BAR - GLUTEN FREE 
Because my kids are always asking for protein bars, I wanted to come up with a simpler, homemade, less processed version. I was so excited to come up with a delicious, easy-to-make, “mini-meal-replacement” bar. This one requires no baking, so it is a speedy staple for peanut-friendly houses or schools. These are great as an after-school or after-sports snack. My husband eats them frozen, but I prefer mine slightly thawed so I can gobble it up even quicker!

Makes about 12 bars

1 cup Orange Puree or baby food carrot puree
1⁄2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons all-fruit jam
3⁄4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup ground flaxseed
2 cups crispy rice cereal, ideally brown rice (gluten free)
1⁄4 cup sugar, ideally raw sugar

Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with foil, letting the foil extend over edges of pan. Spray with oil.
In a mixing bowl, combine puree and peanut butter, then stir in jam, milk powder, flax, and rice cereal. Pat into prepared pan, and sprinkle sugar evenly over the top. Freeze for at least one hour. Lift out foil and cut into approximately 12 rectangular bars, place in individual sealed plastic bags, or in a plastic container with wax paper between layers, and keep frozen for up to 3 months.

CLICK HERE TO SEE MY BEST-SELLING RECIPES & TIPS ON HOW TO GET YOUR FAMILY EATING BETTER! 

BBQ SNEAKY TURKEY BURGERS

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BBQ SNEAKY TURKEY BURGERS
turkey burgers smaller.jpgNo one will guess these are turkey burgers - they look and taste like beef! Adding my beautiful Purple Puree of blueberries and spinach not only gives a sweet moistness to turkey burgers which can often be dry – and combined with tomato paste (the ultimate healthy ready-made puree) and seasoning make these burgers look and taste like the real thing! I love these on whole grain English Muffins.

Makes 4 burgers
¼ cup Sneaky Chef Purple Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe #1)
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. 

For more BBQ recipes, take 1 minute to download my new e-cookbook
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A new series by food humorist and commentator, Rob Rosenthal. He calls himself a "modern food man."  What does he mean by that? We're about to find out...
rob head shot.jpgEnjoy this short, funny video on complicated subject of food these days!  

ebook cover w jerry smaller.jpgJust in time for summer season, the following is adapted from my first in a series of e-books that I plan to offer this year! In this book, we take a sneaky detour outside to the family BBQ, the center of all things yummy and historically not-so-good-for-you meals. In the warm weather months, I loosen my sneaky mask to reveal the abundance of fresh, seasonal, mouth-watering ingredients, simple to make and enjoy with family and friends. When I think about summer, I think BBQ and the smell of juicy burgers on the grill, the taste of fresh local peaches, corn, and tomatoes, icy refreshing strawberry slushies, and of course, my sneaky dipping sauces!
I never had the courage to take my sneaky wand outside and tackle what had traditionally been known as “the man’s kitchen,” the outdoor BBQ grill! As a result, I’m happy to bring you 15 all-new delicious and healthy meals you can share with your family and friends (and not feel guilty the next day) - and best of all, you never have to turn on the oven!

CLICK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD FULL E-BOOK FOR 15 DELICIOUS & HEALTHY BBQ RECIPES!
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STRAWBERRY LIME SLUSHY
I recently asked my Facebook fans what flavor they wanted for a healthier “Slurpee” or “Icee” copycat recipe – strawberry lime won hands down, so here it is – equally as refreshing, delicious and fun, without all the artificial color, sweeteners and chemicals!

slushy ebook smaller 3.jpgMakes 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.


SNEAKY GREEK GRILLED PIZZA
Bring the taste of the Mediterranean into your backyard with this Greek-inspired grilled pizza. Convert your outdoor grill to a high-heat pizza oven simply by closing the lid! Pocketless pita bread makes the perfect-sized ready-made pizza crust (use whole grain, if available).

Diverging from my usual puree of cauliflower, now we’re going to simply “rice” raw cauliflower and sprinkle it in with flavorful feta cheese – the vitamin-rich cauliflower crumbles will disappear, so no one will know!greek pizza sm2.jpgMakes 4 Personal Pizzas
4 pocketless “Greek-style” pita breads
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup raw cauliflower florets
4 ounces feta cheese, about 1 cup crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
24 kalamata olives, sliced in half and pitted
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium (or inside oven to 400 degrees) and take out a pizza stone or large baking sheet.

“Rice” the cauliflower by pulsing the raw florets in a food processor until they resemble rice or crumbles (not pureed).

In a mixing bowl, combine the riced cauliflower together with feta, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, oregano, tomatoes, olives, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Place pitas on pizza stone or large baking sheet and brush with the remaining olive oil.

Top pitas with the feta mixture, divided evenly among 4 crusts. Transfer onto the grill (or oven), close grill cover, and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes or crust is golden and cheese is slightly melted. Remove from heat and serve – can also be eaten folded in half like a soft taco.

Tip to Make More Kid-Friendly: use the pitas as crust, but substitute kids’ favorite pasta or pizza sauce mixed with some Sneaky Chef Orange Puree and/or White Puree. Top with favorite cheese and grill as above. 

CLICK BELOW TO DOWNLOAD FULL E-BOOK FOR 15 DELICIOUS & HEALTHY BBQ RECIPES!
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My Guten-Free "Diet" Disaster

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How I gained weight on this trendy diet

Check out my article just up on The Huffington Post - My gluten-free diet disaster - see why I gained weight eating gluten-free foods (some are almost double the calories with no fiber of regular foods!)

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Gluten-free Pasta can have 50 percent more calories and less fiber

bun comp gf2smaller.jpgThis gluten-free bun has more than twice the calories plus 6 more grams of fat and 3 fewer grams of fiber. 

More comparisons here.

 

 

Mac &Cheese small[1]crop.jpgMac ’n’ cheese continues to be one of the favorite American comfort foods. You can never have enough varieties to choose from of this cheesy, creamy family staple.

There’s not a kids’ menu in the United States that doesn’t offer some variation of macaroni and cheese — the favorite — if not the most popular — of American comfort foods. Kraft now sells more than one million boxes every day! The beauty of these easy mac 'n cheese recipes is that even the packaged version offers ample opportunity for Sneaky Chefs to slip in extra nutrition that even the toughest little critics won’t detect. Try to keep a straight face as your kids beg for more of these surprisingly healthy variations.

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Note: Yellow macaroni and cheese usually contains yellow food dye (which has come under scrutiny for good reason), whereas the white version does not. If your child insists on yellow, you can add a slice of yellow American or cheddar cheese and a dash of paprika to the white cheese sauce, which will help safely change the color to yellow without affecting the taste.

Each of the nutritional boosters listed here are nutrient-dense superfoods and have been kid-tested and has proven to be undetectable in taste, texture and color. Start by adding the least amount recommended of just one of the nutritional boosters listed below. Add a little more each time you serve this dish (which is served in our house every day!).You can also mix two or more of thesuperfood boosters as long as the total is no more than about 1/2 cup total of puree per six ounce box of macaroni and cheese.

• 2 to 4 tablespoons butternut squash puree (frozen or baby food squash puree)

squash.jpg• 2 to 4 tablespoons Sneaky Chef Orange Puree (carrots & sweet potatoes) or the baby food equivalent)
baby food orange.jpg• 2 to 4 tablespoons Sneaky Chef White Puree (cauliflower & zucchini)

cauliflower smaller.jpg• 2 to 4 tablespoons Sneaky Chef White Bean Puree or hummus (more flavorful, so be careful)
white beans istock.jpg• 1 to 2 slices American cheese or 1⁄4 cup grated cheddar cheese - for extra protein & calciumshredded cheddar.jpg
 
What do you like to add to your family's mac 'n cheese? Please share with us!

 

artichokes steamed.jpgYes, I’m The Sneaky Chef and I’m known for hiding healthy foods in kids’ favorite meals…..however, this post is from my alter ego, The not so Sneaky Chef! There are certain fun, healthy foods that most kids will eat without any arm-twisting. This is probably the least sneaky of all of my tricks because most mothers have figured out which fruits and vegetables their kids will think of as snacks and not resist. More often than not, they are finger foods of some kind. For reasons child psychologists haven’t figured out, children like little foods they can hold in their hand and pop in their mouth. They provide kids with a kind of mini-adventure in the culinary realm. The moment they have to use a knife and fork, it isn’t so fun anymore.

Through experimentation, I have pinpointed the top 10 unusual, surprisingly popular fruits and vegetables that (most) kids will eat without a fight:

  1. Artichokes, whole
  2. Edamame (soybeans), in pod
  3. Strawberries
  4. Sweet green peas, in shell
  5. Grapes
  6. Cherries
  7. Pomegranates
  8. Popcorn
  9. Snap peas, raw
  10. Corn on the cob

cherries.jpgAnd just in case your kids aren't willing to try these new foods, here are my top 5 ways to entice kids to eat the above healthy foods in their natural, undisguised state:

  1. Offer the new food without competition - don't put out the snap peas you want them to try next to their favorite bowl of chips.
  2. Make sure the kids are hungry when you set out a new food.
  3. Don't tell them this new food is "healthy" or that they "must" try it.
  4. Eat it yourself - let the kids see you enjoying the food you want them to try.
  5. Call the new food a "special treat."

    What's your child's favorite fruit or vegetable?

 

I always draw a sharp breath when I see the school's number pop up on my caller ID in the middle of the day. I know I'm not the only parent who kisses their kids goodbye at the bus stop and silently prays it'll be just another normal, uneventful day. This time, it wasn't. My 11-year-old daughter, Samantha ("Sammy," as we call her), had fallen and hit her head on the pavement while playing touch football at recess. I asked all the questions moms ask -- is she OK, how serious do you think the injury is? The nurse told me Sammy seemed well enough to stay at school, but suggested I watch her carefully over the next few days to make sure she didn't show any signs of concussion. The hallmarks are headache, confusion, nausea or vomiting, slurred speech and fatigue. And they're often not immediately apparent. And with spring sports upon us, we should all be aware of these symptoms and how to treat them.

Sammy did, indeed, get increasingly dizzy, nauseous, confused (uh, even more than usual!) and complained of wicked headaches. She couldn't concentrate. And her vision became so blurred that she couldn't read a word. Her doctor diagnosed her with a mild concussion and prescribed both physical rest and "cognitive rest" for two weeks -- as in, no heart rate elevating physical activity of any kind -- and no texting, video games or any other kinds of electronic stimulation. Research has shown all of these things to be mentally taxing -- even more so than schoolwork -- which can slow the healing process. Sammy was allowed only one hour of TV a day, which had to be broken up into two half-hour sessions.

We're not all that big on screen time in our house in the first place. But take away that and reading and anything active and I couldn't help but think: What the heck is she going to do for the next 14 days? Sammy is super athletic -- not the type of kid who would be content to just blob around in bed. This was all completely new and eye-opening to me. No one ever talks about how to handle that aspect of helping a kid with a concussion, right? I'll tell you two key things that worked for me -- about how to pass the time, as well as how to actually speed the healing process.

Considering that nearly half a million kids are admitted to the ER each year with a traumatic brain injury -- and many more cases of concussion are diagnosed by pediatricians -- this advice may come in handy someday. (Of course, I do hope you won't ever have to use it!) First, Sammy and I raided the craft store. It was a goldmine. She spent hours and hours making friendship bracelets -- and have you seen all the other cute projects and kits that are out there, too? And since Sammy couldn't actually read, I got her a bunch of audio books (the entire Hunger Games book series downloaded from iTunes). Baking -- muffins, cookies, you name it -- also helped pass a lot of time. And we took a lot of nice, easy walks together.

What made the biggest difference, however: Her diet. A few days into Sammy's recovery, I remembered my New Year's Eve dinner partner, Dr. Michael Lewis, a physician who, after retiring recently following a career in the Army, started the Brain Health Education and Research Institute to continue his work on the role of omega-3s and concussions. Michael makes the case that omega-3s are the foundation of the brain and, if they are essential for the brain to develop, maybe they would help the brain heal when it gets damaged. There's some evidence that healthy doses of it may reduce inflammation in the brain and could even help it recover faster from an injury. Omega-3s are good for so many other reasons, anyway -- like heart health and mood -- that I thought why not give it a shot.

tuna in pita.jpgI mashed sardines into Sammy's beloved tuna salad. They don't really alter the flavor, but they do boost -- by a ton -- the amount of Omega-3s you get from just the tuna (while reducing the mercury). I fed her edamame, put extra beans and veggies in the muffins we baked, and sprinkled flax seed on her morning cereal -- all foods rich in Omega-3 fats. And I whipped up a batch of what I dubbed "concussion chowder," made with clams, sardines, broth and veggies. 

Within 7 days Sammy felt better, and by day 10 she was able to read again. The doctor had told me the symptoms would probably last two weeks -- and that Sammy wouldn't be able to read or concentrate until the tail end of that time. I have no way of knowing for sure if Omega-loading my daughter helped her recover as fast as she did. But I believe it did make a big impact. I'd tell any parent to give it a try. At the very least, you'll have a kid who is happier and heart-healthier. And who doesn't want that?
 

Sneaky Chef "Concussion Chowder"

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concussion chowder smaller.jpgA delicious Manhattan-style clam chowder loaded with brain-boosting omega-3 fish oil from clams & sardines - suggested to aid in the recovery from concussions and other brain injuries.

Concussion Chowder
Makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium-size onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 cup White Puree or Orange Puree
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
1 (28-ounce) can diced, peeled tomatoes, with liquid
1 large russet potato,* diced, with skin
2 (61⁄2-ounce) cans chopped clams, with liquid
1 (3- to 4-ounce) can skinless and boneless sardines, packed in water, drained
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Dried red pepper flakes, to taste
Optional extra boost: 2 celery ribs, diced

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and sauté until they are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery (if using) and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic, White or Orange Puree, tomato paste, clam juice, diced tomatoes, potato, and clams with their liquid. Stir to combine well. Add the sardines, breaking them up with the spoon, slightly mashing them into the pot so there are no remaining visible pieces. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Ladle into 4 soup bowls, and season with freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes.

Sneaky Time Saving Tip:
Use low-fat frozen hash browns instead of dicing fresh potatoes

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blueberry photo.jpgTop reasons to eat blueberries & spinach:
• Blueberries are packed with more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable.
• Blueberries contain 38 percent more heart-healthy anthocyanins than red wine.
• Blueberries boost lutein which helps protect vision.
• Calorie for calorie, leafy greens like spinach provide more nutrients than almost any other food.
• Spinach is an excellent source of antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and manganese.

Easiest Ways to Get Spinach & Blueberries into Your Diet
- Make Sneaky Chef Purple Puree & Add it to:
brownies 190x150.jpg• muffins & other chocolate baked goods
• chocolate pancakes
• taco meat - beef and/or turkey
hamburgers
• smoothies & Sneaky Chef Breakfast Ice Cream

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