Sneaky Diet Food
A new way of cooking lets you enjoy favorite comfort foods while cutting calories and boosting nutrition.
There's no question that eating healthy is good for your body. But let's
face it: Butternut squash just isn't mac and cheese, and spinach isn't the same
as a brownie -- or is it? A new way of preparing diet foods pairs unlikely
culinary partners -- like spinach and brownies, or squash and mac and cheese --
into taste-tempting recipes that cut the calories, reduce the fat and sugar,
and increase the nutrition of foods we love -- all without altering the
That's the concept behind two new recipe guides that are taking the cookbook
world by storm: The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine and Deliciously
Deceptive by Jessica Seinfeld (wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld).
Both books center around the not-so-new food prep technique known as
pureeing, in which fruits and veggies are blended to a sauce-like consistency.
The genius in their systems came in figuring how out to add these purees into a
variety of unexpected recipes -- like fried chicken, French toast, brownies,
and pizza -- without altering the taste.
"Not only does this method dramatically increase the nutrient density of
whatever dish you are preparing, but it also makes it healthier in other ways,
by lowering the fat content, reducing the glycemic index, and often reducing
the calories -- all without sacrificing taste," says Lapine, whose
Sneaky Chef started it all when it hit the New York Times best-seller
list earlier this year.
Being a Sneaky Chef: Not Just for Kids
Both authors say the idea began not as a weight loss brainstorm, but as a
way to get their own kids to eat more vegetables. In Lapine's case, her
daughter was such a picky eater there were almost no vegetables she could put
on her plate without starting a world war. Jessica Seinfeld says her
experiences were similar.
"I tried everything, and yet all my efforts to feed my family were being
undermined by a powerful force: vegetables," Seinfeld writes in the forward
to her book. Mealtime was a war zone as she struggled to get her kids to eat
healthier, she says.
Both authors say they achieved dinner table serenity once they hit on the
concept of pureeing.
"Suddenly my kids were eating healthy -- and enjoying every bite,"
says Lapine, a culinary professor at The New School and former publisher of
Eating Well magazine. Still, the idea of hiding veggies in kids' food
has been criticized by some experts who argue that this won't help them learn
to love produce on its own terms. (Seinfeld also promotes the importance of
serving vegetables on the plate to encourage kids to try the real thing.)
But getting kids to eat their veggies, it seems, was just the tip of the
iceberg (lettuce) when it came to the versatility of this cooking style. It
wasn't long before adults trying to lose weight and eat healthier caught on to
the concept, and a whole new way of preparing diet foods was born.