Monday, January 18, 2010


Have you seen the latest ad pushing Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli as a healthy food choice for kids. The commercial shows a kid eating a bowl of the crap while his Dad is trying to say "There's a full serving of vegetables in every bowl of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli . Each time he opens his mouth the mom tries to prevent him from letting the cat out of the bag by making a lot of noise so that their son cannot hear. The voice-over eventually announces: "There's a full serving of vegetables in every bowl of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli . Just don't tell them."

How stupid do they think we are? Amazing, aside from the fact that the smell alone when you open a can is enough to get the gag reflexes working, which in my mind puts it in the same category as pet food, kids really like this stuff and would eat it for every meal if given the chance. Since the kids don't control the buck, the targeted consumer is the parent, who chooses what they will or will not buy to feed their children. Does the ad company really believe that telling us there is a full serving of vegetables thrown in with a handful of other questionable ingredients will reassure us that it is OK to include Chef Boyardee Ravioli as part of a healthy diet?

Although the first ingredient on the label is tomatoes, biologically a fruit but considered by most as a vegetable, just read on:

In each one-cup serving there are 240 calories (70 of them from fat), 8 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and ...get this...900 grams of sodium. That's a lot of fat and salt!

I admit, when my kids were little, they did eat canned pasta, but only occasionally when stressed for time...just spoon it into a bowl, warm it and serve, but I was never under any illusion that it was good for them. It was just a stop gap measure to hold them over until their next meal of real food.

I believe that if you start out serving kids healthy foods patterned on your own eating habits they will naturally navigate toward a healthy attitude about food and will be more willing to try new things. My own kids have always been good eaters, but as a daycare provider I've encountered my share of fussy eaters over the years. I always offer healthy foods, only occasionally opening a can of soup, and they slowly but surely become good eaters even it they refuse to eat the same foods at home. I've had to resort to some pretty ingenious acts of trickery to get my daycare kids to eat foods that good for them. Aside from the usual con of coming up with fun names like "broccoli trees", bean "rocket boosters", "Sunny Soup" for pumpkin soup or "Shreck Soup" for any soup on the green shade, I also blend foods they might bulk at in with other foods to disguise it. But the most effective means of getting fussy kids to eat is to be a bit of a "hard ass"...and not offer them something else...they will eat. Hearing a group of two and three year olds asking for more avocado and cottage cheese is music to the ears.

Devious to the core, I even pull the "blend" one on adult family members. They won't hear it from me that the Maui Black Bean Soup and the Cream of Turkey Soup I served over the holidays were both loaded with onions. A pureed soup will hide just about anything.

I've also made Tofu Brownies as well as brownies whose main ingredient.. beans... were delicious, and, if I didn't point out what was in them, no one would be the wiser.

Sometimes I have to trick myself when it comes to eating something I don't like but know is good for me. Never fond of lentils, except for when cooked in a Split Pea Soup or this recipe for Lentil Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes , I normally have to puree them and add them to other dishes.

Here is a recipe for Lasagna that I added lentils to which turned out well...I hardly knew they were there. I will post the recipe for Toasted Oatmeal Bread later in the week.

Low Fat Lasagna with Lentils
8 wide lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1 lb. lean hamburger
1 onion finely chopped
chopped veggies of your choice/mushrooms/peppers/celery
2 cloves minced garlic if you like
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 jar spaghetti sauce (low fat/low salt)
1 can lentils drained and rinsed
1 container (500 g) fat free cottage cheese
1/2 c. light Parmesan cheese
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
salt and pepper

This will make a large lasagna so use a large, deep baking dish.

Cook noodles and rinse under cold water ***I always cook the whole package of noodles and use what I need. The rest I spread out between layers of waxed paper, roll up like a jelly roll, bag it and freeze it until the next time I make lasagna.

In large frying pan cook hamburger til browned, add onions veggies and cook until tender. Add tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and lentils and simmer uncovered until sauce thickens some.

Meanwhile, mix spinach, cottage cheese and Parmesan cheese in a bowl.

Spoon some cooked sauce into the bottom of baking dish and spread. Top with 4 noodles. Spoon 1/2 the remaining sauce over the noodles. Top with the spinach/cheese mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Layer. with the remaining 4 noodles. Spread the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle on the mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let set 5 minutes before serving.


  1. hey...whatever works on getting kids to eat right, my boys are used to home cooked meals so they look at me funny if i get canned versions of anything haha, so i'm lucky with that.
    by the way did you see my lentil warm salad i had posted?
    can't remember if you did, anyways the lasagna sounds delish, will try it :)

  2. It helps that you're a good cook, Mom. Although I have to disagree on the bean brownies. I can tell the difference. But the tofu brownies, now those are good . . . except for gas.

  3. I could not agree more!!! Chef Boyardee is NOT something I consider healthy, with or without the vegetables. What's wrong with fresh, healthy whole foods? I will continue to offer my kids raw fresh or steamed vegetables, and so far, it's working out really well!
    Good job, you! I love to see others who really take an interest in their health, and their kids' health.