The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids Favorite Meals

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Product Description

Parents will do almost anything to get their kids to eat healthier, but unfortunately, they've found that begging, pleading, threatening, and bribing don't work. With their patience wearing thin, parents will "give in" for the sake of family peace, and reach for "kiddie" favorites -- often nutritionally inferior choices such as fried fish sticks, mac n' cheese, Popsicles, and cookies. Missy Chase Lapine, former publisher of Eating Well magazine, faced the same challenges with her two young daughters, and she sought a solution. Now in The Sneaky Chef, Lapine presents over 75 recipes that ingeniously disguise the most important superfoods inside kids' favorite meals. With the addition of a few simple make-ahead purees or clever replacements, (some may surprise you!) parents can pack more fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants in their kids' foods. Examples of "Sneaky" recipes include:

No Harm Chicken Parm
Power Pizza
Incognito Burritos
Guerilla Grilled Cheese
Brainy Brownies
Health-by-Chocolate Cookies
Quick fixes for Jell-O(R)

Customer Reviews:

  • Should be called, "how to hide the veggies." Fantastic.
    I tried on my own to modify recipes for things my kids like to try and sneak in some veggies and fruits they are not so willing to eat. No luck. This book is fantastic. Easy to follow recipes and foods that come out looking and tasting great.

    You kids won't know they're eating their veggies. It does take a little extra work since you need to have things pureed, but the results are worth the effort. (To make it so not so daunting, I puree in large quantities and freeze in amounts for 1-2 recipes.)...more info
  • Good sneaky ideas but...
    the only reason I gave this a four stars is because the author has you make up purees that can be used in several recipies. It is a great book if you want to plan ahead, puree and store. I was looking for more of a daily meal recipie book but these are great recipies to sneak in veggies. I have yet to actually make a recipie because of the steps to creating the puree and then cooking the meal...babies underfoot keep me with the simple sneakiness like adding peas to casserols or pumpking to muffins....more info
    This book presents the "hidden food" method of feeding a child in a way that allows you to actually tackle it. Other books almost made it feel as if casually steaming and blending veggies into meals while you may already be strapped for time was no big deal. Even though there were great recipies in them I just never seemed to have the time (full time student, working know the story). This version gives you the resources to be able to either freeze or substitute store brought purees (baby food) in the recipes. Defiantly a handy short cut when you get home late and you need dinner in 15 mins or less.......more info
  • Missing pages
    The recipes in this book were fine, except that my copy was missing 8 pages in the dinner section so it is missing 5 dinner recipes. I contacted the author and the publisher and no one responded to me at all. its been almost a year and still I am missing the main reasons I bought the book for healthy dinner ideas. I would have given the book 3 stars if it were whole and complete. Other than the purees the recipes are very simple and in my opinion kind of bland, but the breakfast options are great. ...more info
  • nothing you can't figure out
    well I saw the book on Oprah and thought it would be great to have some recipes to put my puree in. The recipes aren't that creative and after reading through it, it was all pretty common sense. I wouldn't waiste money on buying the book. Just experiment a little for yourself there isn't genious behind any of the recipes. ...more info
  • A great cookbook!
    This cookbook has helped me feel better about the way my 5 year old daughter eats. She is getting those veggies in her diet and she doesn't even know it! I am a working Mom so it really helped me to make the puree and juices up ahead of time and freeze them. I freeze them in ice cube trays so I know the portion sizes and then thaw what I need in the microwave on defrost and the pre-packaged macaroni and cheese!...more info
  • Good tips, but beware of the nutritional value of the purees
    This book has some good tips in it, but the purees (especially the green ones) might not be as nutritious as it sounds. More so when cooked as advised by the author, covered with water and for 10 minutes. Boiled broccoli was found to lose two-thirds of its original content of disease-protective nutrients. Research shows that how vegetables are boiled may also effect their nutrient value.The smaller the volume of water used to boil vegetables, the better their retention of important nutrients so light cooking (no more than 3-5 minutes)or steaming is much better. One can also sneak some finely chopped fresh spinach into pasta sauce, no need to boil and puree everything. As long as you have some knowledge of healthy nutrition principles, you can come up with so many other ways of hiding one food into another because each child has his own likes and dislikes. I liked "Feeding the kids" much better. Less recipes, but more informative. ...more info
  • Not helpful.....yet
    I bought this book hoping to get my 21 month old to eat a more balanced diet. However, we have since found out he has a mild sensory processing disorder as well as some low tone in his mouth, contributing to his "picky" eating. I have tried a few recipes without much success with him. However, my husband and I really like the chicken nuggets. I still have hope that the book will be helpful. ...more info
  • The Sneaky Chef
    This book gives you excellent ideas for cramming extra nutritional value into your meals. I bought one copy, and went back for 4 more to share with family and friends. After looking through it, my friend also bought several copies to share. I like it because I'm not crazy about vegetables, but I get more than enough with her recipes....more info
  • Absolutely love it!
    I have made most of the dinner dishes in this book as well as half of the breakfast ones and there has not been one dish my boys and husband have not liked. It is a life saver!...more info
  • The Original!
    If you are going to buy one of these covert vegetable books - get the original. While in a perfect world it is best to feed your kids delicious foods with visible fruits and veggies rather than hiding them in otherwise not-so-healthy dishes, this book is great for creating some fun and still veggie-infused meals. The puree concept is a great idea! The book has fun recipes for creating some weekend meals for your kids. You may also want to be creative and make some kid-friendly-yummy dishes with the veggies out-of-the-closet! If you let kids participate in making dishes (that are also healthy) they are more likely to eat them because they are their own creations. This book is a good starting point for introducing fruits and veggies into your kids' diet. If you tell them what they just ate and enjoyed had broccoli in it, they may be more likely to eat broccoli when it is not hidden. Author of THE 3:00 PM SECRET: Live Slim and Strong Live Your Dreams...more info
  • A LIFE SAVER!!!!!!
    wow...WOW!!!! I did not think the recipes would be this good. Okay, the 'make ahead' recipes are a bit of a pain, but SO WORTH THE WORK!! In the past week, my toddler, who only ate cheese, has eaten, spinach, peas, wheat germ, oats, beef, chicken, yams, carrots, and blueberries. I shed tears when I finally saw him eat a piece of chicken. The best thing I ever bought for my toddler!...more info
  • Unbelievable good recipes!
    These are great recipes!! I am constantly surprised at how good everything tastes. One of my favorites is the Banana Breakfast ice cream. While I don't believe in getting my son in the habit of having ice cream for breakfast, I certainly have no problem giving it to him after a healthy dinner of baked Crunchy Chicken tenders or Covert Quesadillas. I also make sure my son is aware these are homemade & healthy not like the food we get at restaurants....more info
  • Great way to get veggies into my toddler!
    "The Sneaky Chef" was a good purchase. While I would prefer to feed healthy foods to my toddler straight-up, he isn't so keen on that. Rather than constantly fight him and risk driving him further away from veggies, I figure it makes more sense to sneak some great food into him while still offering and encouraging him to eat the "regular" vegetables. I'm hoping that he'll eventually come around and eat them on his own; meanwhile, at least I know he's eating a pretty healthy diet.

    I liked Lapine's writing style, although I felt she spent a little too much time on preamble and not enough on recipes. As of yet I haven't tried many of her recipes, and I don't intend to feed my child chocolate anything more than once in a while, however the simple concept of sneaking pureed vegetables into various foods makes a lot of sense to me, and I've worked them into some of my own recipes with success. I found this to be a logical follow-up to "Super Baby Foods"....more info
  • I am now a sneaky chef!
    I find myself using this book more than any other cook book I've ever had. It is less new recipes and mainly recipe's everyone uses on a regular basis to feed their kids. But in this book it tells you what to add or substitute so that your kids and family are actually eating nutrient dense food and less fat and other bad stuff.

    This book has shown me a whole new way to look at food. My kids are now eating carrots in their grilled cheese and loving every bite. They dont know it's there but thier bodies do. Califlower in thier mac and cheese or baked potatoes also goes unnoticed. My husband hates spinach but he eats it without a complaint when I put it in meatballs. I am so happy I bought this book....more info
  • Particularly good for toddlers...
    I was pretty intrigued by books like 'The Sneaky Chef' and Jessica Seinfeld's 'Deceptively Delicious.' I was familiar with the puree method, having made my own baby food. I ended up buying SC because I found it on sale. I've made several recipes from SC, and have perused a friend's copy of DD pretty extensively, though I've never cooked from it.

    Disclaimers aside, here are my impressions of both:

    These cookbooks are great for children who are very picky eaters, particularly toddlers or very small children who are still too young to be reasoned with. My son was a fabulous eater as a baby, but once he entered toddlerhood, started to become more finicky. We still gave him broccoli and spinach, but it was becoming more difficult to get him to eat it. At that age, he was unmoved by creative comparisons to little trees, or 'eat a piece of broccoli, then you can have a strawberry' type incentives. Knowing he was getting some veggies hidden in other foods took some of the stress off.

    A friend's daughter went through a phase where she would only eat hot dogs, so these types of recipes rounded out her diet nicely. We do feel strongly that we should expose our children to different foods, whether they like them or not, but there is a place for this type of cookbook. We've actually found many of the recipes very tasty ourselves, and consider them a boost for us, as well.

    Concerns about cooking and recooking vegetables are valid, but if we're dealing with a population of the uber-picky, something is better than nothing, or of every meal being a battle, even if mom and dad win.

    As for the deception issue, my husband and I are very sensitive to this. We minimize the influence of Santa, for example, not because we think Santa is so awful, but he is not in fact real, and it's just not the aspect of Christmas that we want to emphasize. However, putting healthier ingredients in foods does not smack of true 'deception.' If I lie to my children and say, "There are no veggies in those brownies," then that's crossing the line for us, but I also don't tell them there is yicky tasting baking soda in the brownies... is that deception, too? Words like 'sneaky' and 'deception' in the book titles are pretty much just marketing.

    That said, I've been pleased with the recipes in SC. The purees are a bit of a pain to make, but I decided to make one puree a day until I had a good stock. I freeze them in ice cube trays, like I did with the baby foods I used to make, then store them in freezer bags.

    I like that SC uses more than one ingredient per puree. DD just uses single veg purees. It seems like they have a little more nutritional punch with two ingredients. I agree that DD's binding is more user friendly, and I like having a photo per recipe as you'll find in DD.

    These are my only real criticisms of SC. In general, I'd recommend it highly to friends....more info
  • Wonderful ideas!
    I got this book in a effort to better hide nutritious foods within my cooking. My sons have convinced themselves that they don't like any other vegetable other than carrots. I immediately tried several recipes and even KNOWING what went into the brownies, macaroni and cheese and meatloaf, I couldn't taste the veggies. I have to admit, I was very skeptical about spinach in brownies....but you REALLY can't tell its there.
    It DOES take time and planning to make the purees ahead of time, but I found an afternoon long cooking extravaganza yields enough purees for several weeks ( if frozen).
    My only criticism would be that the recipe sections aren't as intuitive as I'd like them to be - the difference between lunch food and dinner is a little bit of a fine line.
    I will be using this book for recipes and inspiration for a long time to come. My hope is to develop a 'taste' for healthy foods in my sons without them realizing it and then later, filling them in on the secret!
    ...more info
  • Great recipe ideas
    I have two similar cookbooks that compliment each other. This book gives moms a kick start on learning healthy recipes and it's also a refreshing new look at helping our kids see ways they can eat foods that are yummy and healthy.
    The only drawback is that there is a commitment to preparing all the purees each week or making sure you use them in a timely fashion if you choose to freeze some.
    I also don't have a problem with my kids eating fruits and so the fruit purees weren't necessary. ...more info
  • Fun cookbook!
    This is a fun cookbook. I haven't used many recipes out of it, yet, but the granola bars are yummy. I am going to use the modifications my friend recommended, though. Great idea to "sneak" in something healthy for picky eaters!...more info
  • little ones
    I'm sure I'll love it especially if the kids I serve actually eat it. Although I have one who picks through everything...more info
  • Exellen and easy to use cookbook
    This book is very easy to use. I loved it so much I purchased it for two of my Friends with toddlers....more info
  • oh no she didn't
    I don't love the concept of lying to your children and not teaching them to eat like socialized humans.
    But I hope Jessica Seinfeld loses her shirt. What a witch.

    ...more info
  • Lots of great ideas
    I really do like this book. I'd heard a lot of the hype about this and the Seinfeld book (I like this one better) and I was skeptical. But, I also have a very picky 2.5-year old son who won't even eat fruit, let alone vegetables, doesn't care for meat or fish, or even pasta. What two-year-old hates mac and cheese, I thought? There are very few foods I can get him to eat without it turning into a battle. So, I checked the book out at the library, and now I own it.

    FOr those who are worried that this will encourage bad eating habits, don't be. YOU are still in charge of your kid's diet, even if they control what goes in their mouth. Are you going to let your kid munch on brownies all he wants, jut because they have blueberries and spinach in them? Of course not, and that's not the author's intention. The intention is to give your child the nutrition he/she needs, through the basic foods your child will tolerate. You're still going to serve them fruits and vegetables and whole grains with their meals, but now you don't have to fuss if they don't eat them, because it's already in what they WILL eat. And if they try the spinach and decide they like it, all the better. Eventually, your child's tastes will change, and you can start cutting back on the purees.

    There are some recipes I'll probably never use, but I've already tried several, like the potato skins, which my son happily wolfs down without ever knowing he's eating califlower and zucchini!

    These are also recipies that most people in the family will like, and that we'll feel a little less guilty about eating. Who wouldn't like to have junk food that's not so junky? I've tried the breakfast ice creams and they're really good, even with avacado in them, which I can't stand. I also drink a lot of sparkling water to keep me away from soda, and adding the juices with a twist of lime is a nice change. And we LOVE the cocoa pancakes! I like the breakfast cookies for a grab-and-go morning, and my husband likes the muffins.

    All in all it's a good book. Read all of the beginning, understand the author's philosophy and intention, and get out your food processor....more info
  • Gastric Bypass Patient LOVES this BOOK!!!!
    I purchased this book because I needed more nutrition in a small amount of food. Boy did I get more than I bargained for. I'm completely obsessed with this book and what it can do for me and my husband. I've already ordered the second book and the third one won't come out soon enough for me. Missy, thank you and please remember the gastric bypass patients will go crazy for this...thanks so much!!! ...more info
  • Great book
    I'm not much of a "chef", however this book is very straight forward in it's receipe's and puree's. It even shows how to incorporate boxed goods into their receipe's. In a world where high frucose sugars, lard, cholesterol, saturated fats, and McDonald's Happy Meals rule, I want my children to be healthy and fit. I want them to learn proper nutrition. But, let's face it, they're going to choose their favorite foods (pizza, cookies, mac n' cheese) over steamed vegetables and salad. This book really helps allow for "food coversation" to be one less contention. If there's a book out there that claims chicken nuggets, brownies, mac n' cheese, pizza, pancakes, etc. can be helathy I'm all for it. They have been a success in my family....more info
  • Puree foods
    This is not a bad book, just wished it had more colored pictures so I could get a better visual.
    ...more info
  • nutrition one up
    love this book so much! the recipes are delicious and the concept has opened my eyes to boosting my families already healthy diet.i "sneak" seaweed into things and nobody is the wiser.this book should be in everyones kitchen. ...more info
    Before purchasing this book, I always worried about meeting the nutritional needs of my daughter on a daily basis. My daughter loves veggies, but I still wanted to be able to incorporate more veggies, and fruits, in her food, even without her knowing.
    The recipes are ingenius! And my daughter truly can't tell the difference (of course, I think it helps that she likes veggies). I'm really glad I bought this book!...more info
  • Delicious!
    I personally don't own this book but a coworker does and she brings things to work all the time that she has made from these recipes. They are wonderful! I don't eat veggies but I have been eating a lot lately since she started cooking from this book!...more info
  • so far, so good.
    I have been trying to add healthy food to my husband's and kid's meals for years. These recipes have really helped me to do it. There has only been a few items the kids won't eat, but I don't know if it has to do with the hidden veggies or if they are justy too picky. Side note: I don't decieve my family. My seven year old saw the book on the counter and asked me what I was sneaking vegtables into. I could have followed the books advice and lied, but instead I told her "I want to add healthy foods to our meals. You won't see it or taste it but it will help our bodies. Do you tink that is a good idea?" She agreed and has been knowly eating better ever since. Thanks!...more info
  • Picky Toddler Eating Veggies!
    My pediatrician said I have to get my daughter to eat more fruits and veggies. the only fruits she eats willingly are bananas and apples, she refuses all veggies except the occasional carrot and potato. So, I bought this book and the Seinfeld book. I tried the Power pizza recipe - she loved it, devoured it! I even added some of the green puree for a little extra nutrional value. Hubby said he could "taste the texture" of the bean puree, but I didn't. Now, I can feel better about my toddler eating pizza.

    I agree that I would prefer if she just ate a handful of carrots, or broccoli, etc, but she won't. So, this way, she is eating things she likes (pizza, mac 'n' cheese, etc) and getting some nutrional value out of it. Of course, I still encourage her to eat veggies (I even cut up cucumber and bell pepper with cookie cutters to make them more intriguing - she was excited by the shapes, but not enough to tempt her pallate). So, purees it is, at least until her tastes change and she starts eating veggies....more info
  • Great Strategies for Healthy Eating
    This book is good for parents trying to covertly include healthy fruits and vegetables in their children's diet. It is also very helpful for people looking to fortify their diets. We are primarily vegetarian but found many ways to fortify our diet including adding things like flax seed, wheat germ and ingredients high in anti-oxidants. This book can take you to the next level of nutritious eating no matter what level you are at currently. Highly recommend it!...more info
  • Easy to digest
    I got really enthusiastic about upping the nutritional content of my meals after reading this book. I liked the simple layout and the easy recipes. THESE I can do!

    My husband and I don't cater to the kids much at mealtimes. They eat what's offered or they don't eat. Period. Yet we've learned to skirt potential battles by giving them only very small portions of the things they don't like (such as the straight-up veggies). Maybe I'll get them to eat more fruits, veggies, and grains by surreptitiously adding them to the things they do like while still getting them to eat the little portions of the plain 'ol veggies they eat reluctantly.

    I have to say that over all, I preferred this book to "Deceptively Delicious", though that one had a few good recipes as well (I got it from the library). Maybe I just balked at the "another-wealthy-celebrity-tells-you-how-to-do-it-right" angle. ...more info
  • so far, so good.
    I have been trying to add healthy food to my husband's and kid's meals for years. These recipes have really helped me to do it. There has only been a few items the kids won't eat, but I don't know if it has to do with the hidden veggies or if they are justy too picky. Side note: I don't decieve my family. My seven year old saw the book on the counter and asked me what I was sneaking vegtables into. I could have followed the books advice and lied, but instead I told her "I want to add healthy foods to our meals. You won't see it or taste it but it will help our bodies. Do you tink that is a good idea?" She agreed and has been knowly eating better ever since. Thanks!...more info
  • What a WASTE of money!
    Why oh why did I buy this book? I guess I gave into the hype. This book is nothing more than the author patting herself on the back for the first far too many pages. The recipes are like an after-thought. ...more info
  • good idea lots of useless information
    the first 3/4 of the book is useless. Looks like they needed to fill in lots of pages just to say they had a complete book. The recipes are good and very creative. However the recipes only take up the last 10 pages of the book. Everything before that is why you should hide things in your kids food. Not what I expected, but the recipes are useful. ...more info
  • I think this book is better than Deceptively Delicious
    I bought both and I thought this book was a bit better. They pretty much have the same recipes and same concepts, but this book says in a pinch you can use baby food for some of the recipes. Since I have a ton of baby food, it was a fantastic idea for me when I am in a hurry....more info
  • Pleased...
    It did take a while for this to reach me, but I have found a few recipies to use so far. Haven't had a chance to really read the whole book, but the ones I read sound YUMMY!...more info
  • Great Book
    I really like this book. Not only is it filled with great information about food in general, the recipies look great and I can not wait to start making them for my family....more info
  • Sneaky Food
    I was very hopeful that I could get my little one to eat healthy via the Sneaky Chef. Unfortunately, most of the recipes we have tried have failed. Some, I wouldn't even eat. And others ... were quite tasty and were successful. However, just because I was not successful doesn't mean you won't be ... my little one is EXTREMELY picky! I haven't given up yet, I just keep trying different recipes....more info
  • cook book
    I ordered this book because my kids were not eating veggies! Well I would have to say that it has been wonderful! It has made me a lot less stressed about what they are eating because secretly I know they are getting good vitamins and minerals. This has made me come up with a lot of my own sneaky recipes. ...more info
  • I don't have time to be a Sneaky Chef!
    The premise of this book is great: make several healthy 'puree's' ahead of time to be used in a myriad of different kid-friendly recipes. The beginning of the book is all fluff, and the recipes, while i'm sure tasty, are too much for a quick weeknight meal. I don't know about anyone else, but I have absolutely no time to make 9 puree's ahead of time with ingredients that I really don't keep on hand that often. This book is not for a busy working mother that needs to prepare a quick healthy meal for her family in twenty minutes time.

    I'm thrilled that so many people have found this cookbook to be helpful and so many kids are eating vegetables that have been "snuck" in to their favorite meals. For my family, this book was a complete waste and very impractical. ...more info
  • True to its title!
    This book offers many great ideas for sneaking nutrition into meals that would have never crossed my mind. Our picky 2 year old is finally getting some green in his diet!

    All the purees are quite easy to make. I've even enlisted the help of my 4 year old, and she thinks it's fun (of course, she doesn't know where these purees are ending up!) I just took a couple of hours one evening and prepared all of them by pouring into ice cube trays, freezing, and then popping out into labeled Ziploc baggies. It's extremely easy to then thaw out individual portions to ramp up to the maximum amounts the author recommends for given recipes.

    My only reservation is that she could have done a better job of instructing readers about consistency of purees. The bean recipes really need an extra reminder or kids will detect texture a mile away.

    Buy this, you will be happy you did....more info
  • Real Chef or a Publicity Machine ~ You Decide
    Sneaky Veggies by Chef Chris Fisk was written long before either this book or the Seinfeld book were written, but that's not the point.

    Sneaky Veggies is a valid, funny, helpful, real-life hands-on common-sense COOKBOOK which gives you simple life-altering suggestions for feeding yourself and others in a loving responsible way.

    There's nothing really wrong with this book, if you want a book with a publicity machine behind it rather than one written by a working chef... As for me, I'll take my cooking advice from a trained cook. ...more info
  • kids love it
    We are very much the "this is dinner, so you have to eat it," kind of parents. As a result, my kids like many veggies and a lot of other foods their friends won't even look at. But it's never a bad idea to get more nutrition into our diets, so I tried some of the recipes in the book. My kids love what I've made, and I'm happy to offer a healthy alternative to the conventional prep of these recipes. We don't eat the food in the book often (mac & cheese, tacos, brownies, etc), but when we do, we'll be getting an extra dose of vitamins. I can't wait to try the breakfast recipes!...more info
  • Love it!!!!!
    This is definitely worth buying!!! The idea of vegetable purees never crossed my mind, but now they sneak into almost every meal. It is amazing how many vitamins my kids are getting without even knowing it. I still offer regular vegetables at every meal, but my kids will not touch them. Now they are eating broccoli, cauliflower, SPINICH...yes spinach, zucchini etc. at every meal. This cookbook is just a guide. You can sneak vegetables into almost every dish you are currently making without them knowing.
    It is best to make all of your purees once a month and freeze them individually. I freeze them in ice cube trays (2-3 cubes= approx 1/4 cup; depending on your tray size). This way I can use a little or a lot depending on what I am making. The breakfast cookies are fabulous. My husband brings them to work everyday with a mug of coffee or milk.
    I can't say enough about this book...Thank you for putting it together!!!!
    ...more info
  • Lots of wonderful ideas to start from!
    This book's a MUST HAVE for parents of picky eaters. I love that she gives us an alternative, for those of us who may not have time to make ahead the different purees and juices.
    I'll definetly use these methods with EVERYTHING I cook for now on. I wish this book came out when my kids were younger, but at least I can start getting those veggies in them now-better late than never!
    The only downside for me has been the breakfast ice cream not turning out :( But, that's alright-everything else has been great so far....more info


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