Friday, March 21, 2008

The Sneaky Chef: Book Review

Normally I do book reviews on my other blog but this one also raises other questions so I'll review it here.

My mom bought me "The Sneaky Chef" for Christmas. It's got lots of recipes with vegetables and fruits hidden in them so that kids don't mind eating their veggies and parents can rest easy.

I admit, when I first heard about these books (there's a new one by another author called Deceptively Delicious) I was all "that is so wrong to trick your kids. That's like lying."

But then I started reading this cause my mom gave it to me, and the part that sold me on the idea was this one:
We don't want dinner time to be a battle. We want children to have the right to assert their independence and make their own choice how much to eat and listen to their stomachs. We don't want them to grow up with hangups about food. This book just helps you add these good nutrients to their diet so you don't have to worry if they don't eat the side of broccoli. You know they're getting nutrients.

So I decided to give it a try. So far I've cooked about 3 of the recipes. One was "Total Tacos." It adds tomato paste, blueberries, and spinach. It looked sick, but Joel said it was pretty good (he would have cut the tomato paste in half). I enjoyed it too. The kids already don't usually eat taco meat so of course they didn't eat much of this either. I also made the guacamole recipe, which had added peas, collard greens, and something else. I wasn't impressed with that recipe, and the kids don't eat guacamole anyway, and guac is pretty healthy already. I think I'll pass on that one in the future.

One of the other recipes I tried added yams and carrots to boxed mac and cheese. The kids and my sister ate it up and really enjoyed it. Joel wasn't impressed but then I've got a fabulous mac and cheese recipe from scratch that he LOVES. But mac and cheese is easy from a box and we can do that when Joel's not home.

One of the things I liked is that you can make the purees ahead of time and freeze them. I put about a 1/4 cup into muffin cups in the freezer, and when they're frozen I take them out of the tin and put them in a baggie. That way they are all there, ready to be snuck into a recipe.

Anyway if you're looking for a way to get some extra nutrients into your family without hassle and complaining, here's a good way to do it.


Lady Arden said...

That actually sounds like a pretty good idea to me. I never had too many food hangups, but the ones I did have weren't based on the actual taste of foods. I wouldn't eat guacamole because it was green and scary looking. I convinced myself it was bad and gross. Now I love it, and I only ever tried it because one day I was really hungry and they messed my order up in the Bean.

It's no sneakier than getting them to eat vitamins really, is it? As long as it doesn't totally replace the option of them trying veggies and just suppliments meals where the nutritional balance is off I think it's a good idea.

I used to read a fun vegan blog where she made the cutest lunches for her son -some great ideas if you want to browse her recipies (or find her book). I'm not vegan, but she made veggies so fun for her kid I think she has good tips for everyone. She's not blogging much lately, but there are many great archived posts with fun ideas for packing kids lunches.

Angela O. said...

I don't have that particular book because I don't care for the author and the way it was promoted. I have looked through it, though. It is similar to some of the recipes from a book I received about 6 years ago at a baby shower. The book I have suggested the carrots in the mac & cheese but when I do it D refuses to eat it. It tastes a little different to me but not enough to stop me. But to D - she knows. I've never thought about adding yams but D is pretty big on sweet potatoes on their own so I probably wouldn't do that.

I don't see anything deceptive about mixing vegetables into recipes - casseroles have done that for years. To me it is just another version of a recipe.

Kim P. said...

I think my biggest question about some of those recipes is how much nutrition does it actually add? I'm sure it depends on the recipe, and I'm sure some is better than none. I'm just all about whether or not something is worth the effort. But I don't really see it as lying to your kids unless they ask you specifically, "Mom, did you add vegetables to this food?" and you say no =)

Pryncss Briana said...

I have read and used the recipes from that book(borrowed from a friend) and they are actually tasty. Bella hadn't noticed extra veggies whipped into potatos, and she really loved the little diced veggies I added to pasta dishes when she was a toddler. I don't know how much it adds nutritionally, but hey, it's fun and every little bit counts right?