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Ridgewood HealthBarn Offers Yummy Winter Food Programs

This little boy in the HealthBarn USA Seedlings program can't be too precise spreading the cheese mixture on his lasagna noodle. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Two little girls intently begin making lasagna roll-ups. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
HealthBarn USA Educator Alyssa D'Amico of Mahwah introduces children to edamame, an ingredient in the lasagna roll-ups they were about to make. "It will help you build big muscles," she said. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Fresh, healthful ingredients await the youngsters learning to cook at HealthBarn USA. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
HealthBarn USA Educator Tori Mayer of Wayne helps a little boy apply tomato sauce. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
Ripping and placing spinach helps children learn fresh food can be easy to prepare and delicious to eat. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash
HealthBarn USA Educator Alyssa D'Amico of Mahwah helps a little chef put finishing touches on a batch of lasagna roll-ups. Photo Credit: Lorraine Ash

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. -- The start of the year for many people marks the launch of resolutions to eat healthier. Some people are successful at keeping that pledge. Others? Not so much.

One way to avoid becoming a resolutions failure is by not needing one in the first place.

That means picking up healthy habits at an early age.

Cue in HealthBarn USA in Ridgewood, which holds classes for kids ages 3-15 about nutrition and cooking healthy. It also helps them grow, harvest and cook their own hand-grown organic produce.

Classes for the 10-week winter session started this week, with a taste-testing of edamame and a lesson in making cheesy lasagna rolls with spinach -- which, of course, were also eaten.

“They gave it a two-thumbs-up!” HealthBarn USA founder Stacey Antine of the students’ reaction to the class. (There’s still time to sign for the winter session.)

“Normally what we do in the spring, summer and fall, we’ve got an organic garden, we’re growing vegetables with the kids, we’re cooking with it,” said Antine, 48, the author of “Appetite for Life,” which is filled with healthy recipes.

“And in the winter program," she added, "we’re primarily cooking more extensive recipes because we have more time.”

The classes are different based on age group and skill level.

HealthBarn, which moved to its current building, called the gatehouse, in the Village of Ridgewood’s Irene Habernickel Family Park last April, has been around since 2005. It also hosts culinary birthday parties, day-long camps, chef table cooking classes for adults, a February festival, special-needs programming, as well as programs for seniors.

Antine said the Ridgewood Fire Department recently signed on for six workshops on heart-healthy cooking, though a start date hasn’t been set yet.

As for the company’s core children’s programs, Antine said it’s all about empowering kids and getting them excited about healthy food.

“When you’re a parent, you don’t want to be the food police.” Antine said.

“It’s stressful. That little person can tell you they don’t want to eat this and they don’t want to eat that," she added. "And then you find yourself in goldfish and chicken-nugget land … because you just can’t bear to hear, ‘No, no, no, no.’ But if you enroll them in HealthBarn, it’s fun, it’s exciting, they’re telling you about what they’re trying. They want to make this recipe at home. And so now you become the facilitator. And it’s just so much better.”


Source: HealthBarn USA


  • 10 whole wheat lasagna noodles (or other lasagna noodles)
  • 2 cups low-sodium marinara sauce
  • 1 cup silken light tofu
  • 2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons shredded low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese


  • Heat large pot of water to boiling over high heat. Add lasagna noodles and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes.
  • Drain noodles; rinse with cold running water. Place noodles on clean, flat work surface.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Into each of 10 muffin-pan cups, spoon 1 teaspoon marinara sauce; set aside.
  • Place tofu between several layers of paper towels and squeeze out excess liquid. In small bowl, stir together tofu, ricotta, Parmesan, and pepper.
  • Spoon 2 tablespoons cheese mixture onto each noodle and spread to make a thin layer. Then, spread 2 tablespoons marinara sauce over cheese layer on each noodle. Top with spinach and basil.
  • Roll each noodle tightly, jelly-roll fashion. Place 1 lasagna roll in each muffin cup; top with remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella.
  • Bake lasagna rolls 10 minutes or until heated through and cheese melts.

Makes 5 servings (2 lasagna rolls per serving).

Nutrition Facts per serving: 250 calories; 4g fat (1g sat fat, 1g mono, 1g poly, 0g trans fat); 5mg cholesterol; 41g carbohydrate (9g fiber, 6g sugar); 15g protein; 180mg sodium; 35% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 10% DV vitamin C; 25% DV calcium; 60% DV iron.

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