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My Review of Missy Chase Lapine's "The Sneaky Chef"

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.

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

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.

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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

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.

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.

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?

Vegetable Purees Are Key in Most Sneaky Chef Recipes

Purée ContainsUsed 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.

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!

Sneaky Chef Poll

© 2012 Kathy Sima

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