Mom knows best

Cookbook author and fitness pro feeds kids food they like

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Jyl Steinback is a mom who knows how to cook for a family - sloppy joes, pancakes, burritos, home fries and chocolate-marshmallow cupcakes. She's also a personal fitness trainer who makes sure everything she's cooking is healthful.

"The No. 1 time to feed a child is right after school, and the No. 1 time to feed adults is right after work. They'll eat anything,'' says Steinback, who recently released her eighth cookbook, "Superfoods: Cook Your Way to Health'' (QVC Publishing, $16.99).

"That's the time I put out a plate of vegetables while dinner is warming up. I'm a morning person, so I usually cook in the morning and then warm it up at night,'' Steinback says. "There can be a table full of teens doing homework, munching on carrots, broccoli, celery, cauliflower or cherry tomatoes.''

Steinbeck's kids dunk their veggies in her special low-fat or fat-free dips.

"I throw away the ones that come (packaged) with the vegetables, or I empty the container and put mine in it,'' Steinback says. "(My children) will never know - until they read this article.''

In "Superfoods,'' Steinback explains how to get the most energy out of the food we eat, working her way from appetizers to desserts, even chocolate. Using substitutes, she manages to keep the flavor and lose the fat.

With chocolate-chocolate cake, she works in applesauce, nonfat cream cheese, skim milk, nonfat vanilla yogurt, unsweetened cocoa powder and an egg substitute.

In her I Can't Believe It's Not Guacamole! dip, there's not an avocado in sight. Steinback blends asparagus spears, green peas, tomatoes, cilantro, nonfat mayo, lime juice, salsa and spices to get the creamy taste without the calories - this one is only 70 calories per serving.

"Superfoods'' also has a whole chapter on one-dish meals designed for busy parents. Go super healthful with soy milkshakes, salmon burgers and spinach and artichoke pizzas, or try chicken strips or the oven-baked egg 'n' potato casserole. With every recipe, Steinback provides the nutritional analysis.

"It's a lifestyle,'' Steinback says. "I don't take away anything. Super food is just an everyday food that has an abundance of nutrition.''

Eating more healthfully doesn't necessarily mean taking things to extremes, though. It's not unusual to find a small bag of greasy potato chips in the Steinbacks' home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

And once, when her 15-year-old daughter, Jamie, and her friends asked for ice cream for breakfast, Steinback didn't bat an eyelash. She sent them to the store to buy it. They walked the half mile to get it, burning up any fat they'd gained, Steinback figured.

"It's much better to go to your craving than to fight it all day,'' she says.

Most of Steinback's recipes from her new cookbook, "Superfoods: Cook Your Way to Health,'' cut not only the fat, but also time in the kitchen.

I Can't Believe It's Not Guacamole!

Serves 4

10 ounces frozen asparagus spears, thawed and drained

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed and drained

1 cup canned chopped tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup salsa

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons nonfat mayo

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Pepper to taste

Combine asparagus and peas in food processor or blender; process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients; blend until mixed. Cover and refrigerate several hours before serving. Serve with low-fat tortilla chips.

Fudge Brownie Smoothie

Serves 2

1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt

1 cup frozen sliced strawberries

4 brownies prepared from nonfat brownie mix

2 tablespoons skim milk

Combine all ingredients in blender; process until smooth and creamy.

Seafood and Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo

Serves 4

8 ounces spinach fettuccine, cooked and drained

2/3 cup nonfat ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried chives

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion flakes

1/8 teaspoon pepper

15 1/2-ounce can chopped tomatoes, undrained

1/2 pound cooked shrimp

1/2 pound cooked scallops

Nonfat Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and keep warm. Spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add cheese, basil, chives, sugar, garlic powder, onion flakes, pepper and chopped tomatoes to skillet.

Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add shrimp and scallops; cook 2 to 3 minutes until heated through.

Serve sauce over fettuccine; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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