Thursday, September 16, 2010

Got Breakfast Cookies?

No one questions the importance of providing your family a healthy breakfast these days.  Some of the benefits include:  better brain power, especially when it comes to memory; better test scores, school attendance and mood; longer attention spans in school; better overall nutrition; and, healthier body weights, even for breakfast-eaters who end up eating more overall calories than those who routinely skip the first meal of the day.  The dilemma becomes finding the time on busy mornings to make any breakfast, much less a healthy one.  Honestly, some of the convenience foods that are available in stores these days are just plain scary when you examine their nutritional content (or lack thereof). 

I guess you can say that I am a bit obsessive about breakfast.  I love to test breakfast recipes and then figure out the best way to make them ahead of time for a quick breakfast on a busy morning.  That is one of the reasons that I started this blog.  I wanted to share some of the yummy, healthy recipes that I had found with family and other moms.

The very first "sneaky" recipe that I ever tried was for Breakfast Cookies.  That was over two years ago and to this day if we are out of breakfast cookies there is an air of panic in our home.  I love this recipe for many reasons.  First, they are delicious.  Second, they are super healthy stocked full of wheat germ, whole grain cereal, whole wheat flour and low fat ricotta cheese.  Finally, when I make a quadruple batch like pictured above then freeze the dough in balls, I have a quick and easy breakfast that is ready in less than 15 minutes, 12 of which I don't have to do anything but wait for the timer to go off.  Click here for the first post that I ever wrote about breakfast cookies. 

This is a great place to start if you are thinking about trying some healthier options in your home.  Besides what kid (or grown up) would not love having cookies for breakfast. 


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Skillet Wagon Wheel Pasta

I am so excited.  I got a new cookbook in the mail. I could seriously sit and pour over a cookbook for hours (or squeeze in 5-10 minutes as often as I can).  I may have even taken a cookbook to read while waiting for my son at Kindermusik.  I love cookbooks and cooking magazines.  My new love is America's Test Kitchen which is a great, informational TV show on PBS.  You can visit the website, too.  America's Test Kitchen is also responsible for the magazines Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country.  Their mission is to create and test recipes until they perfect them and then share the results.  They have scientists on staff to analyze ingredients and explain why certain reactions occur and therefore why your bread turns out flat, for example.  The inner science geek in me thinks that is awesome.  Their job is to test and re-test and re-test recipes until they get it just right.  How cool is that?  Well, as you can tell, I am pretty excited that America's Test Kitchen came out with a Healthy Family Cookbook.  I have tested three recipes so far and have not been disappointed.

First, I wanted to share this easy, one-skillet recipe for a healthy, kid-friendly meal.  The recipe calls for turkey or chicken italian sausage, spinach, peas and fun wagon wheel pasta.  It had a great flavor and the best part is that I was able to cook it all in one large skillet.  I also thought that incorporating the spinach with the pasta was a great way to include wilted spinach without setting out a serving of pure wilted spinach which may not look too appetizing for grown ups much less kiddos.  I used a seasoned chicken sausage as pictured below, but the recipe calls for sweet, Italian sausage.  You could change the recipe easily just by changing the type of sausage and style of pasta that you use.  I do think that I will add a few more peas the next time because I really like their sweetness with the other flavors in this dish.  It was also really good reheated for lunch the next day.  I do wish that some of the healthier pastas, like Ronzoni Smart Taste, came in fun shapes like this.

Click here, to get the full recipe in a printable version and ENJOY!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Homemade Fruit Roll-ups

Recently I found this handy tip for hulling strawberries.  It is great for when you need to hull several strawberries and not waste any of the strawberry by using a knife to cut the top off.  It works better with a sturdy straw (like the ones you get from Sonic).  Simply place the straw through the bottom/center of the strawberry and push toward the stem.  The center/hull of the strawberry comes out through the straw and all you have left is yummy strawberries.  I used this technique to make homemade fruit roll-ups not long ago. 

This is something that I had wanted to try for awhile.  My mom, Seth and I made the annual visit to Reid Valley Orchard in Kentucky and picked lots of fresh blueberries.  It was surprisingly easy although it did require 5-6 hours on the lowest setting in my oven to completely dry out.  But, it did not require any specific attention during that time.  I just had to be in the house (which some days is hard to find that kind of time). 

 Just click here to get the full recipe, but here is the short version.  I pureed the fruit, cooked it on the stove-top with some honey and almond extract until it was thick and then poured it on top of parchment paper in a large bar pan, placed it in the oven and waited and waited.  It was worth the wait.  Once the fruit leather cooled, I covered it with plastic wrap and cut it into to three sections which I rolled up and then sliced into individual roll-ups.  Stored well and travelled well.  Tasty fruit treat without all the crazy preservatives and high fructose corn syrup. 

For more kitchen tips, click go to and check out some of her yummy recipes and other great tips.



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homemade Fish Sticks

I cannot believe that it has been a month since I last posted here.  Where does the time go?  I have been cooking, sometimes it feels like all I do is make a mess in the kitchen, clean it up, make a mess, clean it up . . .you get the picture.  But, I have to admit that I have been using up my stores of pre-made food and purees and that my usually well-stocked freezer is almost bare.  Now, I just have to find the time in our busy summer schedule to schedule another puree party and maybe a chicken tender making party, which I hosted several months ago (I forgot to take any pictures and therefore figured that it would not have made a great blog post), but have since emptied my stores of frozen chicken tenders. 

Recently, my son tried fish sticks for the first time and enjoyed them.  But, trying to find a "healthy" premade fish stick is practically impossible.  I have used resources such as Eat This, Not That and while it does offer one or two products to try, those brands are not available in my area.  The other part to this endeavor is that I am trying to be a big girl and try new foods that I previously would not eat.  Fish, would be one such food.  So, I got out my sneaky cookbooks, waited until my mom was here for moral support and finally took the plunge.  I don't know why I was so intimidated by working with fish, but I was, and maybe you are too.  I learned that my irrational concerns were just that, irrational, and made some yummy and healthy fish sticks that my family now enjoys.  As far as my journey with learning to eat fish, it is off to a slow, steady start with several successful ventures involving tilapia.  Any suggestions for a newbie fish eater would be greatly appreciated. 

This recipe is fairly simple and almost identical to the tasty chicken tenders that I have been making for quite a while.  I started with fresh tilapia (the recipe also says that you can use flounder).  I cut the fish into "sticks" about one inch wide strips or whatever looks like a fish stick in your home.  Before I got the fish out of the refrigerator I prepared my breading station which looked like this except I used white puree instead of orange. 

Once your fish is cut into sticks then it is time to bread it.  Simply, coat it in the flour mixture on both sides, then dredge it through the white puree and egg mixture and then coat in the better breading mixture.  I added some simple seasonings to the breading mixture, but could you get creative and add your favorite fish seasoning here as well.  If you are going to use immediately then you can go ahead and pan-fry or bake in the oven.  But, if you are making these for future use, then place on a waxed paper covered cookie sheet and place in the freezer to "flash freeze" for about 1-2 hours then you can store in freezer bags until you are ready to use.  Simply, pan-fry or oven-bake the frozen fish sticks as you would the fresh. 

These fish sticks cook more quickly than the chicken tenders and are a great option for a quick dinner or lunch.  As a bonus, researches at the University of Sydney have found that children who regularly eat fresh, oily fish have four times lower the risk of developing asthma than do children who rarely eat such fish.

To get the full recipe in a printable format, just click on the title of this post or click on the tab in the sidebar labled recipes and then scroll down to "white puree."  Fish sticks should be listed there.

Enjoy! Hopefully, it won't take us this long to catch up again!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Friends' Recipes

I want to share several healthy recipes that friends have shared with me.  You can access these recipes under the "friend's recipes" tab in the right side bar.

First, from my blog friend Ruthsneaky lasagna

Second, from my real life friend Liz: sneaky cornbread muffins and banana bread.

I would love to try and share any of your favorite healthy recipes as well.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guacamole and more

So very excited to share these great and easy ways to make your own corn chips, guacamole and cheese dip.  I recently made these recipes when I was hosting a group of ladies to have a chicken tender making party.  I wanted to share some sneaky snacks with them while we made a ton of chicken tenders for our families.  The snacks met with great reviews from all my friends as well as myself and my son. 

It is not hard to make your own corn chips for dipping or snacking.  Not only are you missing out on all the calories, fat and preservatives of packaged tortilla chips, you are providing a good source of calcium, iron and fiber.  Basically, you just brush a corn tortilla with olive oil on the front and back and then cut into wedges with a pizza cutter.  Place on a large cookie sheet or bar pan and sprinkle with salt.  Bake for about 8-10 on each side.  For more specific recipe instructions click here.

Then, I needed something to dip my chips in.  Salsa is a given and already pretty healthy as is (as long as you keep an eye on the sodium).  Then, I found a recipe in my Sneaky Chef cookbook for guacamole.  I have to be honest it sounded kind of bland.  So, I combined the Sneaky Chef's recipe with one from another cookbook and came up with this concoction.  Not only do you get the health benefits of avocado, there is no mayonnaise.  Quickly the recipe contains:  one avocado, 1/4 c. green puree, 1/4 c. salsa, dash of lime juice, clove of garlic and pinch of salt.  Click here for printable guacamole recipe.  Isn't it pretty?

Finally, I made a cheese dip for dipping as well.  I know that you are thinking that there is nothing healthy about cheese dip, but again the Sneaky Chef came through for me.  By using low fat American cheese which melts really well, orange puree and a little milk this dip is creamy and very tasty.  It would also be really good drizzled over veggies if your kids needs some camoflage for their veggies.  Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the cheese dip.  I guess it is time to make more.  Click here for entire recipe.

The added benefit is that you are making these snacks and avoiding the processing that comes in the conveniently packaged varieties.

Random side note, a mama bird made a nest in the wreath on my front door.  Which has resulted in one hilarious attempt of me shooing her out of my house with a broom and several hilarious startlings of my husband when he opens the front door (he was not amused).  Last week I took the wreath off the door and discovered that she had laid four eggs in the wreath which have now hatched into fuzzy little balls of baby birds.  So, if you stop by my house beware of the birds as I guess they have now made themselves a part of the family.

Enjoy the snacks and let me know if you have any healthy treats for your family that you would like to share.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Watermelon Popsicles

It's almost summer and what is more refreshing on a hot summer day than watermelon?  How about a watermelon popsicle?  I found this recipe on the Meal Makeover Moms website and just had to try it out.  It is so simple and great way to use up some of that extra watermelon that may be hanging around. 

1 1/2 c. watermelon
1/2 c. pomegranate/blueberry juice

Combine in a blender and then add to popsicle forms or paper cups with popsicle sticks inserted and freeze.

The Meal Makeover Moms recommend Welch's pomeganate/blueberry juice, but after reading some labels in the juice isle I decided to go with V8 V-fusion Light Pomegranate/Blueberry.  It has almost half the sugar and calories as the Welch's brand and is fortified with vitamins A, C and E.

There you have it, super simple, super refreshing and super yummy.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Mommy Food Blogs

I recently told you about the website which is a website written by two registered dieticians/moms with lots of great recipes as well as tools to arm your arsenal to improve your family's eating habits.  I just ordered their cookbook and am really excited to read it from cover to cover as soon as it arrives. 

I was so excited to learn that these sneaky and healthy moms have been selected as on of the 50 Best Mom Food Blogs on the internet by  I thought that I would include the link here so that you could check out some of these great blogs.  I have started reading through some of them and "wow" there is so much information out there that it is a little overwhelming.  Maybe we should divide and conquer to be able to check them all out.  Here is the link

Not all of these blogs are super healthy recipes, but they are all about making food with love in your own home.  Please let me know if you find a particular blog that peaks your interest or has information that you find particularly valuable.

Enjoy devouring all of this great reading!
Photobucket .

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Homemade Gummy Worms

Do your kids like gummy candy?  Mine does.  I don't even buy the stuff and he loves it.  But, doesn't that seem like the nature of kids - they want the stuff that they don't have on a regular basis and that other kids have.  So, when I found out how easy it is to make my own gummy candy I jumped at the opportunity.  The ingredients are simple:  jello, unflavored gelatin and water.  I have used both sugared and sugar free jello in making this recipe at home as I am still torn on my preference for decreasing the amount of sugar that my child consumes and decreasing his exposure to artificial sugar.  Just know that you can choose what is right for your family and it will work fine with this recipe.  Bonus, these are easy and fun to make with your kids.  My son thinks it is fun to open all the packets and pour them into the pan and stir.

Are you dying to know how to do it yet?  Here you go:

1 package sugar free jello
5 packages unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup water

Mix all ingredients together in a small sauce pan.  As you mix it all together, it will get thicker until it is almost the consistency of play-dough.  Then heat over low until completely melted.  Pour into 8 x 8 pan and place in freezer for about five minutes or until set.  If you want to have two colored gummy worms then repeat this process with another flavor of jello while the first color is in the freezer and then add to the top of the other color and return to freezer until set.

The just pull the entire blob of jello out of the pan.  It will come out in one big block.  Then use a pizza cutter to cut into strips or worms.  Just so you know, you cannot use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes from the blob.  I tried - it was not successful.  If you want to have gummy shapes, then you can use a candy mold and pour the melted jello mixture into the individual molds and let set.  Then, just pop them out of the molds.  I would like to try this, but my son is pretty hooked on having gummy worms.

I also know that there are some ways to try this from scratch without the jello and maybe with real juices, but I have not gotten that experimental just yet.  But, I will let you know when I do!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Evolving Broccoli and Chicken Casserole

This recipe is known in our home as Yunker casserole after the family friends that introduced us to it. It has been a staple in our home for years which is amazing since it is a casserole and my husband does not usually like casseroles or food all mixed together. Since I became a "sneaky mommy" I have been steadily and slowly making changes to this recipe to make it healthier.

First, I replaced the store-bought bread crumbs with whole wheat bread crumbs that I keep on hand. You can read about how I make them here. After doing that for several times, I started replacing the mayonnaise called for in the recipe with white puree, which is pureed cauliflower and zucchini. I started by just replacing 1/4 cup of the one cup of mayo and then gradually progressed until I was able to replace the entire cup of mayo with one cup of white puree.

Most importantly, these subtle changes went completely unnoticed by my picky husband. VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!! When you click to see the recipe, I will post both the original and my modified version.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy Accident

I was trying to quickly whip up a batch of granola bars the other day and accidently added too much oil. The bars will not stick together as well with the extra oil, so I decided to make granola. A couple of times during the baking process I just mixed up the ingredients so that it did not stick together very well.

I was able to make this yogurt, granola and fruit parfait.

It was also delicious with a little milk poured over it like cereal. Sorry, no pictures of that.

If you want to make some accidental granola, just click on this link for the grab-n-go granola bars and add 1/4 cup extra canola oil. Then, drag a fork through the mixture about half-way through baking and then after baking for about 20 minutes.



Chocolate Banana Waffles

I found this great website for sneaky mommy cooking a while back and even linked to it under my "Sneaky Mommy Links" tab in the right side bar. But, alas I basically forgot about it. I had one of their recipes on the perpetual "to do" list until finally, last week, I made these super yummy chocolate, banana waffles. The website is and it is written by two moms who are registered dieticians. The website includes recipes, a blog, video demonstrations, mom's club which includes newsletters and opportunities to submit recipes for a makeover and much, much more. It is a fabulous resource and I wanted to share it with you as well as this tasty recipe.

I knew that my son and I would probably like these waffles, but was a little concerned about my husband who does not like the flavor of banana AT ALL. But, to my surprise he was the first one who complimented them and asked for seconds. So, I guess you would have to say that the banana flavor is subtle and if you want more banana flavor then you may want to add more banana puree. Plus, this is a great use of those bananas that are about to go bad. Just stick them in the freezer until you are ready to make your waffles. Other healthy or sneaky ingredients include whole wheat flour and wheat germ. Just click on the link here to go to the website and recipe, click on the title of this post or go to the recipes side bar to find the actual recipe.

Below, you will see my version of these waffles this morning. I sprinkled mine with a little powdered sugar and strawberries.

Seth enjoyed his with whipped cream, sprinkles and strawberries on the side.

Finally, this is NOT what you want your waffles to look like, but I thought it might make you smile! I forgot to spray my waffle iron with non-stick spray. Ooops!

These also freeze well and reheat in the toaster. Or , you can make the batter up the night before and cook the waffles in the morning.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Smoothie

Enjoy this green smoothie as a yummy St. Patrick's Day treat!

1 peeled banana, sliced and frozen
1 cup frozen green grapes
1 peeled kiwi
1 cup washed baby spinach
8 oz. lime yogurt
1/4 c. limeade

Put the frozen ingredients, kiwi and spinach into the blender.
Add the yogurt and limeade.
Blend until smooth.
Pour the smoothie into glasses and enjoy.
Makes three servings.



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Egg/Tofu Salad

This is the first recipe that I ever tried with tofu in it. If you are new to reading my blog, you may not know that I have always been a very picky eater and that I would have never even looked at tofu much less eaten it. So, when I decided to try this recipe I definitely needed some moral support. I waited until my mom came to visit and asked her to take the tofu plunge with me. If you are attempting to break out the routine and try some new recipes and ingredients, I think that it is incredibly helpful to have someone there as moral support and taste tester. She was pretty incredulous that I would even want to attempt something like this as neither of us had ever tasted tofu before, much less bought it in the grocery store. In case you are wondering, it is in the produce section.

Tofu comes in different varieties which I explained more about in this post. It is soft and basically assumes the flavor of whatever it is cooked with. It blends easily with the eggs in this egg salad and it is hard to tell when you are eating an egg or tofu.

In addition to replacing some of the egg with tofu, most of the fatty mayonnaise has been cut with white bean puree. Below, you can see the mayonnaise, white bean puree and mustard mixture.

This is the finished product to which I added celery. I just love the crunch that celery adds. You could also add sweet pickles.

At last, my favorite way to eat this egg salad . . . on homemade whole wheat pita bread that you can find the recipe for here.

This was a great learning experience for me and gave me the courage to try this chameleon ingredient in other recipes.
Have you tried cooking tofu? What is your favorite way to eat it? How do you sneak it into your family's diet? Maybe you don't have to sneak it, but I do, for me and for them.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sneaky Lasagna (with tofu)

Yes, one of the recipes that I made with tofu was lasagna. But, not only is this recipe the perfect place to sneak in some healthy soy protein I also added pureed carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower and zucchini. I started with this sneaky marinara sauce that I ran through the food processor because my husband does not like chunks of anything that could remotely look like an onion or tomato in his sauce. You could also use your favorite marinara sauce and add some purees. I added some italian sausage because I just like the flavor that it gives the lasagna. If you are looking to keep this recipe low fat or vegetarian you could simply leave out the sausage or just use less.

The recipe calls to combine part skim ricotta cheese with the tofu in a bowl. Being overly cautious, I ran this through the food processor as well, just to make sure that the tofu would not be identifiable to the wary eaters who knew this was going to be sneaky.

As you can see, this ricotta/tofu mixture turned out to be extremely creamy. Instead of making one big 9x13 lasagna, I made this recipe into two smaller lasagnas. One of these I baked immediately and the other I froze and plan on eating when my in-laws visit this weekend.

I could not find whole wheat, no-boil lasagna noodles or lasagna noodles made by ronzoni smart choice which are my favorite so I did use regular, no-boil noodles. I will make more of an effort to find the other kind the next time I make this recipe.

With the part-skim ricotta/tofu mixture there was really very little mozzarella to add on top with a little parmesean and some dried parsley to make it pretty.

It was DELICIOUS!!! My mom was here when I made it and we both thought that it was the best lasagna that we had ever tasted. My husband found it OK, which is about the same reaction that I get with any Italian dish that I make for him, so I determined that is was a rip roaring success!

Remember all you have to do to get this recipe is click on the title of this blog entry or go to the recipes tab on the sidebar and scroll down to find Lasagna.
Come back and check in soon to find another yummy recipe that includes tofu!