America’s children are fat and getting fatter. More than 1/3 of children and adolescents are overweight, reports the CDC. It seems difficult for Americans to start and stick with a healthy lifestyle.
Missy Chase Lapine wants to change all of that. She’s at the forefront of the healthy kids movement and has developed what she says is a simple way to change your family’s diet and health forever.
“I used to try and make log cabins out of asparagus but I’m not an artist and my kids are too smart for that, so I simplified it. Tell me what your kids want to eat and I’ll doctor that,” she gushes.
Missy Chase Lapine “doctors” food for healthy eating by following in many moms’ footsteps by hiding fruit and veggies in family meals, and she’s been doing it for a long time. Many of her recipes use purees, similar to baby food but for the whole family, that are tasty and nutritious.
“An example is my macaroni and cheese. Normally cheese sauce is rich in fat but if you take my orange puree, with carrots and sweet potatoes, or even baby food from a jar, and add it to the cheese sauce, it reduces the overall fat per serving and adds great nutrition plus a sweet, delicious flavor. You could even do that to a box of mac and cheese. It’s a great trick,” she says.
Her method is a hit: Her 1st book, The Sneaky Chef, was a New York Times bestseller in 2007. Her 5th and latest book, The Speedy Sneaky Chef, uses the same methods, but focuses on quick meals and even uses packaged foods as a shortcut to healthier versions of your family’s favorite meals.
This isn’t about pretending your kids don’t have to eat vegetables. “I call it ‘sneak and teach.’ So you serve my spaghetti and meatballs with 8 hidden vegetables but you still put out steamed spinach and teach kids to enjoy food in its natural form, but not in the pressured way. It means you are not only healthier but you don’t have the battles anymore.”
As a mom of two girls, ages 11 and 14, Missy knows all about dinnertime battles.
“My older daughter was a good eater but my younger was born with a lot of food allergies and asthma, and that forced me to get very clever. So I developed [my recipes] mostly for her, and I soon learned it was an age-old problem for parents,” she said.
“Kids in America are overfed but undernourished. They are getting a lot of the wrong foods, which is making them sick with adult problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.
America spent $1 billion on nutrition education but it’s not working, we’ve failed. So why not just make everything healthier?” she says.
With the mantra that convenience often compromises nutrition, she recommends starting by reducing processed foods and eating more whole grains, fruit and vegetables. But that’s not the whole
picture, she says.
“You have to move. Kids don’t need to be in a boot camp, they just need to play, have fun and move more.” And she practices what she teaches: “I love bonding with my children and you can all burn 82 calories in 20 minutes in a pillow fight, which is much better than push ups. So jump rope, dance…
Fitness is just about movement. You can hide fitness in fun,” says the sneaky expert.