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Healthy Cooking - Should You Be A Sneaky Chef?

Updated on January 2, 2014
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Kathy is a busy mom of two teens who loves to cook tasty and simple food for her family and friends.

The Sneaky Chef cookbook for picky adults.
The Sneaky Chef cookbook for picky adults. | Source

The Sneaky Chef

I recently came across a copy of Missy Chase Lapine's book "The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen) - Hiding Healthy Foods in Hearty Meals Any Guy Will Love" and decided to check it out. I had heard of Lapine's earlier Sneaky Chef cookbooks, which she designed to give parents ways to sneak vegetables and other healthy ingredients into foods their children would eat.

Instead of being aimed at children who are picky eaters, this book is written for people who have spouses that are picky eaters - particularly men who don't like to eat a lot of vegetables.

My kids are getting to that age that they eat most of what we like to eat, so I figured if the recipes appealed to my husband, they would likely appeal to the rest of us as well. Since we're all trying to eat healthier these days, I decided this could be a good tool to have in my kitchen.

I'm all for encouraging kids and adults alike to eat a variety of foods, and I definitely don't think that vegetables should be something that we have to "hide" to get our families to eat healthily. However, I also know that in reality everyone has certain foods that they may not like to eat, and often these are foods that are good for their health.

Meet Sneaky Chef author Missy Chase Lapine.

A Sneaky Meal

Not the greatest picture, but this sneaky meal was eaten up by my unsuspecting family. The hidden healthy ingredients included carrot puree in the barbecue sauce and a white bean puree in the mashed potatoes and coleslaw.
Not the greatest picture, but this sneaky meal was eaten up by my unsuspecting family. The hidden healthy ingredients included carrot puree in the barbecue sauce and a white bean puree in the mashed potatoes and coleslaw. | Source

Our favourite recipes so far:

Homemade BBQ Sauce

Radical Ribs

Love Me Tenderloin

Mighty Mashed Potatoes

Side of Slaw

Brawny Brownies

The cookbook is divided into six chapters. The first four chapters discuss the benefits and challenges of eating a healthy diet, and provides tips and strategies for adding healthy foods to your cooking. It covers the nutritional and health benefits of superfoods and provides lists on which foods to try to limit or eliminate and suggestions for foods that you can subsititute to improve your health. Lapine also spends considerable time in exploring the male psyche around food, and justifying why this book is specifically written for women, instead of both men and women. Some of her rationale seems a bit old-fashioned, but that doesn't really take away from the validness of the suggested strategies and recipes.

Chapter 5 provides recipes for the make-ahead vegetable and fruit purees and juices that are the secret ingredients for most of the recipes that follow in Chapter 6.

The recipe chapter, by far the biggest section of the book, is divided into the following sections:

  • Breakfast Recipes
  • Lunch Pail Recipes
  • Soups
  • Appetizers and Side Dishes
  • Sauces and Salad Dressings
  • Dinner
  • On the Grill
  • Half-time Snacks
  • Drinks
  • Desserts


Are you dealing with a picky eater in your house? Do you sneak healthy ingredients into their food?
Are you dealing with a picky eater in your house? Do you sneak healthy ingredients into their food? | Source

Sneaky Chef Purees

Most of the recipes in this cookbook, and indeed in all of the Sneaky Chef cookbooks, involve the use of vegetable purees added to the recipe. These purees can be made ahead of time in big batches, and stored in the fridge for a few days, or in the freezer for up to three months. If you're going to try some of these recipes, I would suggest picking a few that use the same kind of puree and making up a batch of the puree ahead of time.

The purees are quite easy to make, and the recipes themselves are generally straightforward and easy. Some of the combinations suggested seem quite strange (and often a bit unappealing) but Missy does a good job of disguising the taste, texture and look of the foods so that in most cases you cannot even guess at the secret healthy ingredients.

Vegetable purees are key in most Sneaky Chef recipes

Purée
Contains
Used in these Recipes
Purple Purée
blueberries, baby spinach
burgers, french toast, brownies, cookies, meatloaf, chocolate cake and more
Orange Purée
sweet potatoes, carrots
muffins, salsa, barbecue sauce, chicken satay with peanut sauce, baked beans, and more
Green Purée
broccoli, baby spinach, green peas
pesto, meatballs, chili, guacamole and more
White Purée
cauliflower, zucchini
chili, chicken parm, mashed potatoes, manicotti, buffalo wings, and more
White Bean Purée
white beans (navy, cannellini or butter beans)
muffins, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, potato salad, crab cakes, meatloaf, dip, burgers and more
Chickpea Purée
chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
biscotti
I made barbecue ribs in my slow cooker with a carrot puree in the sauce. They tasted delicious and no one suspected a thing.
I made barbecue ribs in my slow cooker with a carrot puree in the sauce. They tasted delicious and no one suspected a thing. | Source
4 stars for The Sneaky Chef: How To Cheat On Your Man In the Kitchen

My verdict

I've now tried a number of purees and recipes from the Sneaky Chef cookbook, and have been pleased with the results so far. I don't think that I would ever choose to make the Sneaky Chef versions of our favourite foods all of the time. However, for days or weeks when I know that we may not have been eating very well, it's nice to be able to throw in a few extra veggies and other healthy ingredients for an extra nutritional boost.

Peas, spinach and broccoli in burgers? Carrots and sweet potatoes in mac & cheese? Watch this video!

KitchenAid KFC3511OB 3.5-Cup Food Chopper - Onyx Black
KitchenAid KFC3511OB 3.5-Cup Food Chopper - Onyx Black

This handy food chopper makes preparing your own "Sneaky Chef" purees quick and easy.

 
Black & Decker EHC650B Ergo 3-Cup Food Chopper
Black & Decker EHC650B Ergo 3-Cup Food Chopper

Another food chopper that would work well for making the purees.

 

Need More Ideas?

If you're looking for more ideas to get your finicky eater to eat better, be sure to read my articles on Healthy Snacks for Kids and 10 Ways To Get Your Picky Eater to Eat More Vegetables.

To get some sample recipes from the Sneaky Chef, visit the official website thesneakychef.com

Free recipes on the site include:

  • One and Only Guacamole (with sneaky ingredients green peas, spinach and broccoli)
  • Doctor's Choice Chili (with 5 extra sneaky vegetables you wouldn't expect in a chili)
  • Stovetop Lasagne (with that sneaky green puree)
  • Brawny Brownies (with superfood ingredients blueberries and spinach)
  • and more, including the recipes for the purple, green, orange, white and white bean purees that are the basis for most of the Sneaky Chef recipes.


Healthy Holiday Recipes with the Sneaky Chef

Sneaky Chef Poll

Are you a "sneaky chef"?

See results

What do you think?

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    • KatSanger profile image

      Katherine Sanger 4 years ago from Texas

      I can see doing this for my son because he's autistic - we already sneak vitamins into his orange juice. But doing it for adults is kind of weird. Adults can make their own choices.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      This sounds like a great little book. And you have given us a nice peek into its contents. I have some picky eaters in my family so these sneaky tips were help me to get the nutrients they need without even knowing what's happening. Voted up and useful.Sending Angels your way. :) ps

    • savingkathy profile image
      Author

      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks for the reads and the share, Glimmer Twin Fan. I need to catch up on my reading too. Good luck with the purple puree - you'll be surprised at the variety of foods you can sneak it into, I think.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

      Catching up with a lot of hub reading today and loving your hubs. I really need to try this with my daughter, queen of the picky eaters. Thanks for the great ideas. Love that purple puree...now I just need to figure out what to sneak it in. Thanks. Shared.

    • savingkathy profile image
      Author

      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Chrissie, I think that sounds like a great idea. I have a friend who puts spinach in her brownies. She used to hide it from her kids, but one day they caught her. She was worried they'd never eat them again, but they still love them. Since then, she's been more open with them, and they seem to get a kick out of seeing what healthy foods she's "sneaking" into their meals.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      kathy I love this hub and think I may have to check this cookbook out. I have hesitated to hide things because I really want my children to want to eat healthy for the long haul. However, I think maybe even making some of these meals together and seeing how putting healthy things into food can still taste good might be something worth trying!

    • savingkathy profile image
      Author

      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Lilleyth - casseroles are a great place to hide sneaky foods. Thanks for the visit. :)

    • savingkathy profile image
      Author

      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Mhatter99, you were fortunate indeed that your family would eat everything you cooked. You must have done something right!

      Thanks for the visit and the comment. Have a great day!

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      I've been sneaking broccoli into casseroles for YEARS! Thumbs up.

    • savingkathy profile image
      Author

      Kathy Sima 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thanks very much, Rebecca! At first I wasn't sure, but it does seem to be an effective way to get everyone to eat some foods they might not otherwise eat on a regular basis (or at all!) Thanks for the vote and the sharing. I appreciate it!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. As cook for my family, I was very lucky.My family ate everything. So instead of sneaky it was a different presentation.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Very cool way to feed the entire family healthier foods. It just seems so important these days to try to stay healthy. Voted awesome and shared!