This week we are talking to Missy Chase Lapine, also known as, The Sneaky Chef. Missy has spent years perfecting how to successfully sneak healthy foods into comfort foods and has authored three bestselling cookbooks and a new book, Sneaky Fitness that includes tips for making workouts fun. I am a huge Sneaky Chef fan and having been using her methods for over a month now. My kids gobble up the rainbow pancakes that we are featuring on here today, and I hope you take a chance to check out Missy’s site to learn more about how to be a sneaky chef!
How did The Sneaky Chef begin?
Really, just out of desperation. I’m a mom of two girls and my first daughter was a really good eater, had no issues, and my second daughter, Samantha, came along 2 years later and quickly humbled me. She was born with some medical issues, severe food allergies, asthma, allergies, eczema, so then that curtailed right away from the start what I could eat while I was breastfeeding and ultimately what she could eat. Then just because of that or coincidentally because of that, she became a very picky eater. But with all the restrictions and everything I just really had to be more clever to get good nutrition into her because she really needed it. So this really spawned The Sneaky Chef and it’s a simple solution that works immediately.
Are there any fruits or vegetables that cannot be hidden in food successfully?
Definitely! I took years of at home trail and error with my own children and ultimately testing it out on many children. This is a method I have perfected so that other people don’t have to learn the hard way. To be a sneaky chef, food has to be fairly bland, but highly nutritious. For example when I wanted to put beans in things in order to increase their fiber content, and increase the protein content, and the vitamin content, in foods like macaroni and cheese or pizza, I knew I couldn’t use a red kidney bean because of color and the taste. So I went to a bland white bean that has fantastic nutrition, and again if you think about it, it’s white, it’s creamy, it’s bland and it slips right into a macaroni and cheese. I’ve tried other things, like asparagus or beets, and the odor is very intense, and the texture is off. Everyone else using my method, it’s simple, but for me it took years of perfection.
What fruits or vegetables should we sneak in on a daily basis?
The trifecta if you will, the Holy Grail of my purees is the green puree, which is spinach, brocolli and peas. And those three things are just a powerhouse of nutrition, a powerhouse as a weapon against disease, which our children are suffering early on now. They make you feel great. That’s really the trifecta right there. I try to get that in everyday. But it’s hard to get green in food, or you could get them to eat it outright. Even now with my kids they’ll take one bite of brocolli and it’s a struggle, and they certaintly won’t eat spinach outright. Peas, alright, they’ll eat frozen organic green sweet peas if I put enough butter and salt on them.
Should these foods be organic?
In my books I have the dirty dozen list, and that’s from the USDA. As a rule you want to get organic things that don’t have a skin to protect the inner fruit. For example a strawberry, I prefer organic. It’s ideal to have everything organic. But even other things like a carrot, that doesn’t have a skin, but it’s in the ground. You can analyze what was in the soil just from looking at the carrot, or the potato. So I say potatoes for sure organic, carrots organic, anything that grows in the soil I would get organic and anything without a skin I would get organic.
What is your kids favorite recipe that you’ve made?
Lately they are loving eating out of my new book Sneaky Fitness, which has 50 all new sneaky chef recipes. As I grow with my own method, it’s getting better and better. I now have the three books and then this fourth book, Sneaky Fitness, and now the kids open it up and they really choose what they want out of that book on a daily basis. They naturally always want the sweet stuff, this morning they had the rainbow pancakes (recipe to follow). My kids love pancakes, most kids do, for Samantha though I have to make them gluten free. But getting cottage cheese and oats into your kids for breakfast is amazing. They certainly wouldn’t eat a bowl of cottage cheese, they would laugh me out of town. But when you put it all in the blender, and you’ll see from the recipe, if you just put a teaspoon of rainbow sprinkles at the very end before you cook them, that teaspoon of sprinkles, all ten calories, makes up for all the good stuff underneath. It’s great, it makes them want to eat them.
Who among us can get our kids to eat cottage cheese and wheat germ in the morning (okay, make that any time of the day)? Now we can! All it takes is using The Sneaky Chef “Decoy” method. Kids will eat anything with sprinkles on top, but they’ll also eat things with sprinkles inside—even if there’s also lots of good-for-you ingredients in there too.
Makes 36 silver dollars (about 6 servings)
- 1⁄2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1⁄2 cup low-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1⁄2 cup rolled oats
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 cup Flour Blend (see Make-Ahead Recipe #8, p. 265)
- 1 tablespoon multi-colored sprinkles
Powdered sugar, optional
In the container of a blender, combine all ingredients except Flour Blend and sprinkles and blend until smooth. Add Flour Blend and pulse a few times until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Add the sprinkles and mix lightly with a spoon (do not blend the sprinkles—you want them to remain whole).
Spray non-stick cooking oil on a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Test the pan by tossing in a few drops of water; it will sizzle when it’s hot enough. The skillet will grow hotter over time, so turn down the heat if the pan starts to smoke.
Drop small ladles (about 1 tablespoon) of batter onto the skillet in batches, making sure there are some sprinkles in each pancake. Pancakes should be small—about 11⁄2 inches across in size. When bubbles begin to set around the edges and the skillet-side of each pancake is golden (peek underneath), gently flip them over. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the pancake is fully set.
Serve stacked high, dusted with powdered sugar.
Per Serving (6 silver dollars, 83g): Calories 155; Total Fat 3g; Fiber 3g; Total Carbohydrate 24g; Sugar 2g; Protein 9g; Sodium 196mg; Cholesterol 37mg; Calcium 90mg
Sneaky Time-Saving Tip!
Put all ingredients (except the sprinkles) in the blender the night before and refrigerate overnight. You can also make extra pancakes on leisurely Sunday mornings and simply reheat and serve for the next few days.
A huge thank you to Missy for doing this interview and sharing this yummy recipe! Be sure to check out The Sneaky Chef website for more tips, tricks and free recipes. Who knows, maybe we’ll feature all four books on here next month (stay tuned!)?