“The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healty Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals,” by Missy Chase Lapine (Running Press), is quite possibly one of the best cookbooks for nutritional eating that I have come across in a long time. The secret to its success lies in pureeing many of the “special” ingredients such as orange puree (sweet potato and carrot), purple puree (spinach and blueberries), green puree (broccoli, spinach and peas), and white puree (cauliflower and zucchini). There are other interesting types of vegetable and fruit purees to be used in the preparation of different recipes, but these seem to be the main ones used throughout the book. My son, the quissential picky eater of all time, did not detect the orange puree I slipped into the Crunchy Chicken Tenders and snarfed those chick sticks up like candy.
As most folks know, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and that old adage definitely applies to children; a fact keenly recognized by Lapine. She offers great tips on how to make food appear more appealing and fun like serving the Crispy No-Fry Fries in an ice cream parfait glass, cutting the Fortified French Toast into sticks, or adding rainbow sprinkles on top of the Brainy Brownies. In Chapter 5: “The Sneaky Chef’s Bag of Tricks,” Lapine points out parents are battling against food companies who use similar tricks to get kids to try their unwholesome, pre-packaged cuisine. “This method makes us parents into smart marketers,” she says. “Make no mistake about it – you are competing with multimillion dollar ad campaigns that bombard kids into trying their dolled-up junk food.”
Of course, critics are going to complain that by hiding fruits and vegetables in recipes, kids are not developing a true appreciation for these types of food. My response to that is: whatever. Seriously, I will do whatever it takes to get my son to eat healthy and nutritional food on a daily basis. That includes sneaking in “icky stuff” like zucchini and carrots that were previously fed to the dogs under the table.
One of the best things about this book – aside from the nutritional merits – is that the recipes are easy to prepare. And here at Busy Moms Recipes, we’re all about easy! Don’t be dissuaded by the thought of having to steam and puree a variety of fruits and vegetables. This type of preparation can be done well in advance to be used at a later time – or you can use the instant supermarket puree recommendations found in the book. And, while preparing recipes from scratch using whole grains and organic produce is the better alternative, a lot of folks who are time-challenged can utilize some of Lapine’s Quick Fix options that incorporate pre-packaged foods like boxed macaroni and cheese, SpaghettiOs, and applesauce.
With it’s easy to read format, helpful tip boxes and sidebars, and cleverly disguised recipes, it’s easy to see how this book so quickly made New York Times bestseller list!
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Copyright 2008 Charlene Davis. All rights reserved.