Tired of packing the same old thing? Want to say goodbye to the PB&J, or shake up the cheese and crackers routine? Here's three great recipes from our own Sneaky Chef, Missy Chase Lapine, that transform kid favorites into lunchtime vitamin boosts.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup Got a thermos? Fill it to the brim with this comfort classic, updated to be both delicious and nutritious. In this chicken noodle recipe, the creamy taste comes from evaporated low-fat milk, so there's some extra protein underneath all that chicken-y goodness. Plus, the soup will warm tummies with its blend of vitamins, fiber, and vegetables.


    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 tablespoon white flour
    • 2 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned/boxed (no MSG)
    • 1/4 White Bean Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
    • 1/4 cup cooked egg noodles or macaroni
    • 1 cup diced, cooked chicken meat
    • 1/4 cup evaporated low-fat milk
    • Salt to taste
    • Optional extra boost: diced celery, carrots, and/or parsnips


Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and stir constantly for a minute with a wooden spoon (this is a roux, a fancy name for a thickener). Pour in the broth and mix in the White Bean Puree and pasta. If you are adding any optional vegetables, do so at this point. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Stir in the cooked chicken, cooked pasta, and evaporated milk, mixing for a minute. Remove from heat and serve. (Makes about 4 servings.)

White Puree Recipe:

  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary

Steam cauliflower in a vegetable steamer over 2 inches of water, using a tightly covered pot, for about 10 to 12 minutes until very tender. Alternatively, place cauliflower in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with water, and microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes until very tender. While waiting for the cauliflower to finish steaming, start to pulse the raw peeled zucchini with the lemon juice only (no water at this point). Drain the cooked cauliflower. Working in batches if necessary, add it to the pulsed zucchini in the bowl of the food processor with one tablespoon of water. Puree on high until smooth. Stop occasionally and push contents from the top to the bottom. If necessary, use the second tablespoon of water to make a smooth (but not wet) puree. This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree. Double it if you want to store even more, which can be done in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze 1/4 cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.

Creative Cream of Tomato Soup

This low-fat version of an old classic is packed with vitamins, protein, and calcium. Ingredients:

    • 1 can (10 3/4 ounces) tomato soup, condensed
    • 1 1/2 cups evaporated skim milk (tastes like cream and packs twice the amount of calcium and protein of regular milk!)
    • 1/4 cup Orange Puree (recipe below)

Orange Puree recipe:

  • 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 T water


In a medium pot, cover carrots and sweet potatoes with cold water and boil for about 20 minutes until all is tender. If the carrots aren’t thoroughly cooked, they’ll leave telltale little nuggets of vegetables, which will reveal their presence (a gigantic no-no for the sneaky chef). Drain and put in a food processor with two tablespoons of water. Puree on high until smooth, no chunks should remain. If necessary, add the rest of the water to make a smooth puree, but the less water the better.

Once you’ve got the puree, add ¼ cup the other soup ingredients. Cook it all together on the stovetop over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Throw it into your thermos. Voila!

Cold Sesame Noodles

A Chinese take-out favorite, typically full of fat. This version has all the flavor, without the guilt. Tastes great warm or cold and has less than half the fat of the original!


    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
    • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
    • 1⁄4 cup tahini (sesame paste), well-stirred
    • 1 cup White Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe, above)
    • 1⁄4 cup rice wine vinegar or cider vinegar
    • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, to taste
    • 1 pound Asian noodles or thin spaghetti, ideally whole wheat, freshly cooked
    • Optional extra boost: 3 green onions, thinly sliced; 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, and/or sliced cucumber strips


In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, tahini, White Puree, vinegar, and garlic. Add red pepper flakes to taste.

Put the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the sauce over the pasta, tossing to coat the pasta evenly. Garnish with sliced green onions, cucumber, and sesame seeds, if using. Refrigerate until cool, or feel free to serve it warm. (Makes about 6 servings.)

Masterful Mac ‘n’ Cheese

A great take on an old favorite, this recipe hides an undetectable cauliflower/zucchini puree, which melts away in the familiar creaminess of the cheese. The kids won’t even notice! With microwaves available in most school lunchrooms, this is a great choice. Ingredients:

  • ½ pound macaroni (preferably whole wheat blend)
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ¼ cup White Puree
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated low-fat Colby or cheddar cheese
  • 2 large eggs (optional)

White Puree Recipe:

  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3-4 tablespoons of water if necessary


Steam cauliflower in a vegetable steamer over 2 inches of water, using a tightly covered pot, for 10-12 minutes, until very tender. While waiting for it to finish steaming, start to pulse in the food processor the raw peeled zucchini with the lemon juice only (no water). Drain cauliflower. Working in batches, add it to the pulsed zucchini in the food processor with two tablespoons of water. Puree on high until smooth. You can add more water if needed, for smoothness.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish. Cook the macaroni according to the package directions, until firm and slightly undercooked. Drain. In a large bowl, whisk the milk with the White Puree and salt, plus the eggs. Put half of the macaroni into the baking dish and top with half the cheese. Next, layer with the rest of the macaroni, and then pour the milk mixture over the top, finishing with the last of the cheese on top.

Optional Crunchy Topping

  • 1 cup whole grain cereal flakes (like Wheaties or Total), crushed
  • ¼ cup wheat germ, unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons butter, diced into small pieces

Put the crushed cereal, wheat germ, and Parmesan into a sealed plastic bag and shake to mix. Sprinkle on top of the macaroni and cheese and dot with butter. Bake casserole 30-35 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.

Tuna Transformed

First of all, if you’re still using “chunk white” tuna, listen up! It contains up to three times the harmful mercury of “chunk light” tuna. Try to get your child used to the healthier variety as soon as possible.<

Want to turn that typical tuna sandwich on its head? Add one tablespoon of white bean puree (see recipe) for every one tablespoon of mayonnaise you put in their tuna salad. Or mix in some canned skinless and boneless sardines. Yes, sardines! They’ve got almost no mercury and lots of IQ-boosting omega-3 oils. Start by mixing in 2 ounces of sardines per 6 ounces of tuna, and over time, gradually increase the amount. Continue to stir in mayo or whatever you normally add to your child’s tuna fish.<

White Bean Puree Recipe

  • 1 15-ounce can white beans (great northern, navy, butter, or cannelloni)
  • 2-3 tablespoons water