Nutrition on the Sly
You’re smarter than your kids, right? So use your adult wiles to get them to try healthy food they’ll actually enjoy.
It seems axiomatic in child-rearing, as certain as gravity making things fall: Kids crave sugary cookies and gooey candies and fat-filled fries, and balk at stuff with a “healthy” rep, and there’s little a parent can do except make rules and be the stern, eat-your-vegetables enforcer. Right?
Stacey Antine begs to differ. She’s the registered dietitian who opened HealthBarn USA in 2005, and one of her key motivations back then was to show that even young taste buds can appreciate things that are nutritious—if they’re tasty too. She wanted children to understand there’s an alternative to nutritionless goodies—that “good” food and food that’s good for you could sometimes be one and the same.
At HealthBarn’s Ridgewood location, Antine offers cooking and food appreciation classes to children of all ages—and their parents. In 2019, she received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her extraordinary work feeding the county’s food-insecure. You can read about her activities—and her nutrition insights—in “A Healthy Response to Hunger”.
Kids can develop the healthy habit of eating nutritious food and liking it, Antine insists. And she’s not above using slightly sneaky tactics to get them hooked. Take, for instance, her original recipe for lasagna rolls, a favorite at HealthBarn. This dish is stealthily nutritious, serving up calcium, iron and other essential nutrients in an irresistible package. “Kids really have fun helping to create it,” reports Antine.
No doubt you can get creative and find your own sneaky ways to present healthy ingredients that can turn the finicky younger set into a cheering section. But why not get started with Antine’s own surefire recipe, at right?
- 10 whole wheat lasagna noodles (or other lasagna noodles)
- 2 cups low-sodium marinara sauce
- 1 cup silken light tofu
- 2 Tbs. part-skim ricotta cheese
- 2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- ⅛ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 3 Tbs. low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Heat a large pot of water to boiling over high heat. Add lasagna noodles and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes.
Drain noodles; rinse with cold running water. Place noodles on clean, flat work surface. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spoon 1 teaspoon marinara sauce into each of 10 muffin-pan cups; set aside.
Place tofu between several layers of paper towels and squeeze out excess liquid. In small bowl, stir together tofu, ricotta, Parmesan and pepper.
Spoon 2 tablespoons cheese mixture onto each noodle and spread to make a thin layer. Then, spread 2 tablespoons marinara sauce over cheese layer on each noodle. Top with spinach and basil.
Roll each noodle tightly, jelly-roll fashion. Place 1 lasagna roll in each muffin cup; top with remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella.
Bake lasagna rolls 10 minutes or until heated through and cheese melts.