The Sneaky Chef's 7 Tips to Get Kids Eating Healthy
Having trouble feeding your children healthy foods? The Sneaky Chef Missy Chase Lapine has some tips to get your little ones the nutrition they need.
By Ashley Welch
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As any parent knows, getting children to eat their fruits and veggies is no easy task. But Missy Chase Lapine, the creator of the Sneaky Chef series, proves that it is not impossible. The mother of two girls, Lapine has spent more than 10 years creating healthy meals in the kitchen that her whole family can enjoy — and she can feel good about knowing they're getting the proper nutrition. Here, she shares seven secrets to help parents in their quest to get their kids to eat healthier.
-Make it fun. The premise of Lapine’s cookbooks is to "sneak" healthy fruits and vegetables into foods her kids already eat. But the real secret is that she lets her kids in on it and they view it as a game. "One of my favorite games is to put out a salad bar and I tell my kids, 'you call it, I toss it,'" she says. "You can do this with a taco bar, a potato bar, you name it. The important thing is to include them in the decision making and not lie to them."
-Play with color. Lapine purees fruit and vegetables and uses the mixes in her recipes. For example, she makes classic mac and cheese with an orange puree of sweet potato and carrots. "Kids love color," she says. "Let kids decide on their own what color vegetables could go with which foods."
-Create traditions. Figure out what meal is your child’s favorite and have a night each week dedicated to that dish. "There’s a lot of unpredictability in life, especially for kids," Lapine says, "but if they know they’re getting their favorite meal one day a week, it feels good."
-Experiment. Lapine's "sneaky" brownie recipe calls for spinach, blueberries, oats, and wheat germ, which many kids — and adults — who have tasted the brownies cannot detect. She would have never created this dish if she didn't try new things in the kitchen and suggests letting kids do the same. "Provide guidelines for them, of course, but let them have fun," she says.
-Mix it up. Lapine suggests serving breakfast for dinner as a way to keep things exciting at the table. She also serves her children a concoction she calls "ice cream for breakfast," which consists of Greek yogurt and frozen fruit that she mixes into a thick smoothie resembling soft-serve ice cream. "My girls love it," she says.
-Plan ahead. "Time is our worst enemy when it comes to healthy eating," Lapine says. She suggests stocking your pantry with healthy foods and snacks and making use of leftovers. "Cook once, eat twice," she says. "Throw your leftovers from dinner in a Thermos and send it to school with your kids for lunch the next day."
-Be patient. It's impossible for anyone at any age to overhaul their lifestyle, but small changes can add up. "I don’t force my kids to choke down vegetables," Lapine says.
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