KD (not so) Smart and a rant about sodium

I’m considering a new career as a nutritionist. Seriously. Because stuff like this really pisses me off.

It’s KD smart, or Kraft Dinner made with freeze-dried cauliflower. I’ve been making my own fresh cauliflower and cheese pasta sauce for ages, so I was intrigued by the idea of baking the cauliflower directly into the noodle. (Making my own pasta is something I haven’t yet tried). I finally found KD Smart for sale here in Alberta and picked up a box to try. (I also bought a box of KD original spirals, for old time’s sake). I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to compare the nutritional information of the two varieties.

KD Smart has more fat and more sodium than the original. It does have slightly more fiber, Vitamin C, Iron and Vitamin B12 per serving, however I call these amounts negligible. (You can read a much more thorough and thoughtful nutritional analysis here, by Ottawa physician Yoni Freedhoff.)

One serving of KD Smart has – are you sitting down? – 430 mg of sodium. That’s one third the daily recommended amount for adults, and more than HALF for children.

You need sodium for a healthy nervous system and balanced body fluids. But there is enough naturally-occurring sodium in vegetables, dairy, meat and shellfish to maintain adequate sodium levels through a balanced diet. Sustained consumption of excess sodium is a one-way ticket to high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease or stroke.

And KD smart? It tastes… well, not as good as I recall KD spirals tasting, and certainly not half so tasty as my own whole grain pasta with cauliflower cheese sauce.

But the advertising that trumpets KD Smart as a revolutionary new way for kids to get there vegetables really gets my dander up. As Sylvia’s menu expands daily, I’m increasingly shocked at the levels of sodium, sugar, preservatives and artificial colours and flavours in supposedly healthy food that is marketed to children. I shouldn’t be, but I am. How does Health Canada let companies get away with it? Why haven’t parents boycotted the baby food aisle altogether?? Because it’s so damn convenient, that’s why. Also, until I sat to really read the ingredients and nutritional panel of KD Smart, I bought their advertising line too – hook, line, and sinker.

I have never had trouble adapting any “adult” meal for Sylvia. There’s been nothing a blender or a fork and knife hasn’t been able to turn into an infant-friendly puree or toddler-sized finger food. We keep the ice cream and nachos away from her, but she has diced pancake and yogurt at breakfast, cooked veggies and meat at lunch and soup or cut up casserole for supper. If she can’t eat it we probably shouldn’t be eating it either.

That said, sometimes it is just easier to grab the (sugar-laden) Mum-Mums or (salty) bottled vegetables.

I do rely on convenience baby food more than I’d like. I shouldn’t have to – Sylvia is an eager and adventurous eater. She loves roasted garlic. She eats the cloves whole. She loves baked salmon, steamed peas, toast, spicy sweet potato soup, plain yogurt, rice, raw broccoli, rye bread, frittata, cooked mushrooms, dark poultry meat, frozen mango, blueberries, bananas and oranges (though she sucks the pulp and spits out the pith).

But for those times when I do go to the pantry cupboard for a jar of “Mom’s Recipe Vegetable and Turkey Risotto” (65 mg of sodium per serving), I, or any other parent, shouldn’t have to compromising my child’s nutrition for the sake of convenience.

I don’t want to be the hyper-vigilant nutritional panel-reading mother holding up lines at the grocery store, but until enough parents band together to stop to sodium-fueled madness, I’m going to have to be.

(In the spirit of complete disclosure, I enjoyed a handful of Jelly Belly jelly beans while writing this post. Mmm-mmm sugary goodness. But that’s a post for another day).


2 responses to “KD (not so) Smart and a rant about sodium

  1. I’d also like to point out that a “serving” of Kraft Dinner is 1/3 box, which is more than is left IN the pot whenever I make KD for one. Come on, I can’t be alone here.

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