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Cookbook Review: The Sneaky Chef

November 2, 2011

While Joseph will eat almost anything in front of him (including things he’s allergic to), his older sister is extremely picky, and has been since before Joseph was born. On my friend’s recommendation, I picked up The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals. The basic premise is, you puree vegetables, and then mix it into the food that you are cooking, matching colors. This way, kids will eat vegetables unknowingly. If this is the only way to get veggies in your kid, like with my daughter, I’ll take it.

As I looked through this book to write this post, I didn’t expect to find a whole lot I can use with Joseph’s allergies. Half the book talks about the background behind the book, the need to buy organic foods, and other methods of encouraging kids to eat healthy foods beyond pureeing. Several recipes involve a flour blend of whole wheat/white flour, or “better breading” (whole wheat crumbs with pureed almonds) which aren’t conducive to a gluten-free diet. However, I did find 16 recipes that are naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, and 10 more recipes that I felt I could modify.

The real thing I use this book for are the puree recipes. I mix the orange puree, which is made of sweet potatoes (except Joseph seemed to react to those, so I use squash instead) and carrots, into spaghetti sauce. I mix the green puree (peas, broccoli, and spinach) into Joseph’s rice cereal. I combine the purple puree (blueberries and spinach) with Nutella to serve my daughter on bread (yeah, it sounds gross, but it worked until she started to catch on that it wasn’t coming from the jar).

There is a “sequel” of sorts to this book – The Sneaky Chef to the Rescue: 101 All-New Recipes and “Sneaky” Tricks for Creating Healthy Meals Kids Will Love – which includes tips for cooking for those with allergies. I am personally hesitant to try it, because I can’t tell that Lapine has a reason to actually try out these recipes with substitutes for gluten, dairy, and eggs. I also don’t see it adding much more to my knowledge of how to sneak vegetables in general. But if you haven’t tried either of these books, and are dealing with allergies, I’d recommend taking a look at this second book.

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