Make the smart choice

Grilled vegetable bake

You may have heard a bit recently about Smart Choices, the farce of a food labeling program that recommends Froot Loops and Cocoa Puffs as 'healthier alternatives'. Nutritionist and Smart Choices president Eileen Kennedy provides the money quote:

"You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal," Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. "So Froot Loops is a better choice."

Seriously? Is this what we're up against? Come on, if you're "trying to think about healthy eating" and you're deciding between a doughnut and Froot Loops, I have news for you: you're doing it wrong. The most worrying thing is that Kennedy's quote may actually reflect some insight into the minds of today's food consumer. I know that we're in deep trouble and that change is incremental, but can't we do better than an industry-run fee-for-promotion program that defends its inclusion of patently unhealthy choices by claiming their target audience is the set that would send their kids to school with a stick of butter and a pack of cigarettes?

My retaliation is this vegetable bake. Of course with béchamel sauce there are healthier dishes out there, but if you ask me this is a smart choice. It's packed with nutrition, has no added sugar, only as much salt as you like, and by grilling the vegetables on a non-stick surface you can get away with very little oil. I made something similar a week earlier with feta crumble on top instead of béchamel, and if you ask me I think that one was actually better. It contains bolognese so it's not vegetarian, but here the bolognese plays only a supporting role and could just as easily be meat-free.

Grilled vegetables, mise en place

Grilled vegetable bake

Now maybe I'm just being lazy, but this is one of those use-whatever's-at-hand dishes that doesn't lend itself to a strict recipe.

Simply put, take a bunch of vegetables (e.g. zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, potato), slice into pieces and grill. Layer with a simple bolognese seasoned with cinnamon and cloves, then top with béchamel sauce and bread crumbs. Bake until golden. It's that simple.

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