Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents
Bellisimo All Natural Chicken Arrabiata $6.59 for 320g
Even the most devoted of home cooks needs a convenience food on standby for that night when you don't feel like going to the effort. Finding healthy, real food for your kids in a convenience food item can be difficult.
This frozen offering turned up at home after my husband noticed it was new in the supermarket and after a cursory look at the ingredients label thought it was "probably quite healthy". We heated it up and our daughter ate it enthusiastically. It did actually taste like something you might have whipped up yourself and that is no doubt due to the lack of additives and the amount of real food in here.
It didn't, however, taste like Arrabiata which, is an Italian tomato sauce with lots of chilli. But that is probably a good idea if you are feeding it to your kids.
Pasta (30%) (100% durum wheat semolina)
This is the pasta you cook at home.
Durum wheat is the hardest of all wheats and its density, combined with its high protein content and gluten strength, make durum the perfect wheat for making pasta. Semolina is the coarse meal produced from the wheat husk. The label says it contains spiral pasta but it also says:"due to availability, pasta inside this pack may differ to that shown in the photo". This pack had the same pasta.
Tomato (chopped/puree) (50%),
This will be the type of tomatoes you use to make a pasta sauce chopped up with some puree added. While many children won't eat raw tomatoes they will often eat them in a sauce like this and with them get a good helping of vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and dietary fibre.
No idea what part of the chicken is in here but it looked like chunks of breast meat to me. It is reassuring to see that this product has the words "PNZF01 New Zealand Inspected" on the packet which means that it has a risk management plan in accordance with the Animal Products Act of 1999. It ensures that any animal products are safe, suitable and truthfully labelled.
These will be the red and green capsicums you can clearly see in the product and they lend quite a strong but not unpleasant flavour.
This will be low fat milk or the one you buy with the green cap. The fat content of this dish is pretty impressive at just 11.8g per serving or 3.7 per cent.
This is also a low fat cream option to keep the fat level down.
The same stuff you use to thicken your soups and gravies.
There's a sprinkling of dried herbs over the top of this.
Not a lot in here but enough to provide a bit of flavour.
Not sure what these are, possibly black pepper and perhaps nutmeg.
Nice to see a food producer actually naming the oil they use. This oil is low in saturated fat and is a common ingredient in processed foods because it is quite cheap.
Not a lot in here with 5.8g per serving which is just over a teaspoon.
This product also features an HACCP compliant label meaning the company which makes this food (Pure New Zealand Foods) has a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point standard which takes a systematic approach to the identification, evaluation and control of food safety hazards.
As a handy one-person meal that you can keep in the freezer and microwave in five minutes or heat in an oven for 35 minutes, this is a great choice. No preservatives are required as it is a frozen food. There are also no artificial flavourings or colours or the need to add emulsifiers and so on often used in processed convenience foods. Refreshingly it also actually looks like the picture on the packet. The producers are to be commended for providing such a natural, real food alternative for supermarket shoppers.
* All real food, no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
* Reasonably low in fat
* Manufacturer has signed up to industry standards.