Wendyl Wants To Know
Each week, Wendyl Nissen takes a packaged food item and decodes what the label tells you about its contents.

Wendyl Nissen: Flavourings help a tasty, fast food

When do-it-yourself pasta is not on the agenda and a quick meal is needed, this package fits the bill.
Continental Creamy Spinach, Parmesan and Bacon Pasta. Photo / Wendyl Nissen
Continental Creamy Spinach, Parmesan and Bacon Pasta. Photo / Wendyl Nissen

I make my own pasta. I also make my own bread most days and grow my own salad.

That makes me a real food bore, but it also makes me the type of consumer who sometimes finds herself in the supermarket aisle, sick to death of cooking everything from scratch and just wanting a fast-food meal that won't kill me.

So that was where I was last week. having said goodbye to the last of our summer visitors and that is why I grabbed this inviting looking package. A quick glance at the ingredients list assured me it wasn't too bad and so I came home and ate the thing for lunch. And it was very nice, actually.

Continental Creamy Spinach, Parmesan and Bacon Pasta. $2.69 for 91g.

Ingredients(in order of greatest quantity first):

Pasta (79 per cent) [wheat flour, colour (carotene)]
The packaging for this product is making a very big deal about the pasta being made from "responsibly grown Australian wheat", which basically means, according to their website, that they work with farmers to grow sustainable wheat.

Most pasta does not have colouring added, this one does, but it is a natural orange colour, carotene, taken from vegetables.

Maltodextrin
You're very unlikely not to see this ingredient in processed foods these days.

It is a white powder made from a starch which is cooked then acids or enzymes are added to break it down.

The result is a white powder which is water-soluble and has a neutral taste. Maltodextrin can be used as a thickener, a filler and a preservative in processed foods.

Natural flavours (contain milk)
These flavours will most likely be cheese flavour.

Corn starch
This is cornflour, and most likely in here for thickening.

Yeast extract
This gives a meaty flavour so will be working towards the bacon flavour.

Spinach (2 per cent)
You can clearly see pieces of spinach in this product when it is cooked.

Cheese powders (parmesan (1 per cent), mozzarella, blue cheese)
These are small amounts and mainly in here for taste I would presume.

Sour cream powder
Again, in here for flavour.

Mineral salts (451, 452, 508)
The first two mineral salts are diphosphates, which are salts of phosphoric acid and the other one is potassium chloride, a natural salt.

Garlic powder
In here for flavouring.

Salt
Not too high at 270mg per 30g (dry) serve.

Bacon powder (0.1 per cent)
This is such a tiny amount that I have to think it has been put in here to justify the inclusion of bacon in the name of this product.

Sunflower oil
This is considered a healthy oil because most of the fats in it are unsaturated.

Nutmeg
In here for flavouring.

My recommendations:

This tasted good although I doubt the miniscule amount of bacon powder contributed much to the bacon flavour - that was down to flavourings.

I used butter instead of the 1 tsp of Flora spread recommended you add with the milk and water, so that probably helped make it taste nicer.

There really isn't much to get concerned about with this dish, but I do have to say it would be made better with the addition of some cooked peas, some more fresh wilted spinach and a few pieces of cooked chicken.

Then you'd have a complete meal.

Highlights:

• Natural colours and flavour.
• Cooks in 12 minutes.
• Tiny amount of bacon.

- NZ Herald

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