Chewsday Review- Annabel Karmel Macaroni Cheese

It seems you all want to know about specific Annabel Karmel meals! In response to your responses, I’ve decided to break down some other meals within the toddler-targeted frozen range. Today we’ll dive into the macaroni cheese – a classic comfort food. But are we comfortable with the meal’s nutritional value? Keep reading to find out!

🔶Ingredients:

🔹Cheese Sauce (47%) (Water, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Tapioca, Salt, Starter Culture, Non Animal Rennet), Milk, Butter, Wheat Flour, Parmesan Cheese, Cornflour, Spices), Cooked Macaroni Pasta (28%) (Water, Macaroni Pasta), Broccoli (20%), Topping (Cheddar Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, Breadcrumbs, Rice Flour, Herb).

🔹Common allergens include: Gluten and milk

🔹Although the first ingredient of the sauce is water (and thus is present in the greatest amount by weight), I can appreciate that the elements are simple and homely without anything too odd.

🔶The positives:

🔹According to guidelines, sodium content falls within the ‘best choice’ category at less than 120mg/100g. This is great for developing kidneys, as they can’t process as much salt!

🔹The meal is also low in sugar, which is to be expected with savoury dishes.

🔹This meal in particular includes lots of dairy. Most Aussie kids don’t struggle with calcium intake though.

🔹200g is a decent offering. But remember, it is totally normal if your kiddo eats more or less than this serving, as their appetite may vary day-to-day.

🔹The convenience of this meal is probably the best part!

🔹I haven’t eaten this meal, so I’m not sure what the broccoli actually looks like or whether it all gets picked out. BUT, I love that there’s 40g of just broccoli in the dish. Having said that, for there to contain one serve of veggies we’d need 75g- so it appears that this marketing is a bit misleading. The other meals I’ve reviewed have been much closer to one serve than this one.

🔶The negatives:

🔹The level of saturated fat within this meal is a fair bit higher than the others. This will come from the butter, cheese and vegetable oil. When the type of oil isn’t mentioned, it also suggests that it’s a cheaper lower-quality oil. I’m not hugely concerned about saturated fat for young children though, especially when it comes in an overall nutritious meal.

🔹At $4 each, these are expensive compared to frozen meals intended for adults, especially considering the smaller portion size. Ps: They are available for purchase in bulk online at Woolworth’s if you’re looking to save a few dollars.

🔹Unfortunately, iron content isn’t listed either, and the macaroni cheese is likely lacking in this regard due to not containing a protein other than dairy, unlike the other meals I’ve reviewed. Iron is a key nutrient in childhood so I’d like to see more of it.

🔶The marketing:

🔹‘Low Sodium’: This is particularly difficult to achieve for frozen meals, as they may lose flavour during this process. Well done!

🔹‘Low in Sugar’: This is true, as one would hope with savoury meals.

🔹‘Tested by Toddlers’: Although this sounds great, individual preferences vary widely within this age group. So, I wouldn’t take this as a guarantee that your kiddo will give it the tick of approval!

🔹‘No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives’: This is a bonus due to the fact that the meals are frozen, as shelf-stable alternatives are often high in these additives.

🔹‘1 serve of veg’: I actually query the accuracy of this. My detective work suggests it contains just over half a serve! This year the ACCC are cracking down on food labelling in Australia, so companies are going to need to be much more careful with statements like this.

🔶The alternatives:

🔹Mac & cheese is often a staple quick meal for families. I’ve never understood why, because making this meal from scratch actually takes a bit of time, skill and saucepan cleaning- which doesn’t usually suit me!

🔹But, sometimes we all need a legit quick meal and I think these meals are a good option for those chaotic days when cooking comes last. This macaroni cheese is probably one of my least favourites in the range- it’s not a bad choice but just not as nutritious as some of the others.

About Toddler Mealtimes

Toddler Mealtimes is an online subscription for parents who want to feel confident about teaching their toddler to enjoy a variety of foods. It's particularly helpful for those who are noticing their toddler becoming increasingly fussy, but they're not quite sure to handle it. The 12 month subscription guides you through managing toddler fussiness with confidence with regular tips and tricks via videos and photos. Sign up here www.toddlermealtimes.com.au

About Baby Mealtimes

Baby Mealtimes is an online subscription for parents with babies aged 4-12 months. It’s your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know about introducing solid food to your baby. The monthly subscription (or 8 month package) guides you through what to offer and when, with meal ideas and a photo gallery of over 120 finger foods organised by age.

Sign up here www.babymealtimes.com.au

About Mealtime Building Blocks

Dr Kyla Smith and Liz Beaton are paediatric dietitians specialising in fussy eating, feeding difficulties and childhood nutrition. Lauren Pike is an occupational therapist working in fussy eating and feeding difficulties. They have a private practice called Mealtime Building Blocks in Perth, Western Australia. You can connect with Kyla, Liz and Lauren here www.mealtimes.com.au

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