Joco Diversions

Eating for life — An updated masterpiece still pleases a picky palate

Updated: 2013-10-15T21:45:09Z


The Kansas City Star

When my daughter was a toddler I created an edible masterpiece — a throw-it-together, I’m-exhausted-from-work pasta dish featuring refrigerator staples: cubes of ham, frozen peas and crumbles of feta cheese.

The dish pleased her picky little palate and was officially dubbed Bella Pasta, a nod to her nickname and her love of any noodle. So when The Star’s Penne With Smoked Turkey Sausage crossed my desk, I was eager for her to taste it and give me her verdict.

And I’m happy to report that, at age 11, she was pleased with the slightly grown-up pasta dish, noting how it was so very like her own namesake dish.

OK, so she probably didn’t figure out we had snuck in a whole-grain and fiber pasta instead of a traditional durum wheat version. Or that the tasty smoked turkey sausage has less saturated fat and sodium than ham, plus more protein than if we had substituted beef or pork sausage. Or that instead of feta, a saucy combination of reduced-fat chicken broth and a few tablespoons of low-fat whipped cream cheese were the new, lower-sodium stand-ins.

As long as she still gobbles it up, I figure I’m doing my job as both a mother and a food editor.

Shopping tips: This recipe was tested with Heartland Pasta brand whole grain and fiber penne. The product has the taste and texture of traditional pasta, but it’s also a good source of whole grain and fiber.

Low-fat cream cheese has no more than 16.5 percent milk. When whipped, any cream cheese has fewer calories than regular because it has had air whipped into it.

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