You had me at…pasta and cheese. Hello! Doesn’t take much for me to select a recipe when these are the ingredients.
When browsing for recipes for our first week of meal planning, I wanted variety, ease of planning and cooking, leftovers ;), of course flavor, and to use some food I already had in the pantry. This recipe satisfied those requirements and our palate.
Pasta you say? But doesn’t pasta make you fat? Aren’t carbs bad?
No. They’re delicious. Oh, and versatile, can provide important nutrients like fiber and B vitamins, and great fuel for mental and physical energy. Just don’t over-do it, and take some healthier modifications from your favorite RD (wink), and you’re set!
Need to follow a gluten-free diet? Sub gluten-free noodles! But try to find them enriched if you can.
Ok, I’ll eat the pasta. But cheese? Isn’t dairy bad for you? I’ve heard these foods called “toxic”…
Au contraire. Research does not support claims of dairy being “bad” for you. In fact, it’s a great way to get important calcium in your diet. Toxic? What does that even mean? The definition of toxic means poisonous, harmful. As long as it’s pasteurized, it should be safe. PS- The science is out on these so-called “toxic” foods.
Back to the cheesy carb goodness. This Three-Cheese Pasta Bake is easy to give a healthy makeover to.
1) Use whole-wheat pasta. I like the shells – yum!
2) Use plain, nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Almost always works! Same texture and flavor, no fat, less calories, and more protein.
3) Alter the cheese, and use less of it. Buy part-skim or low-fat cheeses. I had a 15-oz container of ricotta cheese and 1/8 cup of Parmesan, which is less than the recipe calls for but was very adequate. Also, you don’t need the 1.5 cups of mozzarella to top it off, which tasted excessive. Try 1 cup and cut the calories even more.
4) Use a light alfredo sauce, or even try this homemade alfredo sauce from cauliflower! I made it for Father’s Day, and it was fantastic.
4) Add a lean protein source. Chicken thighs for Thursday night’s Greek chicken was on sale, so I bought a little extra, baked and shredded a few thighs, and
ate added it between sips of wine the layers. Shrimp would also be great.
5) Serve it with a healthy green veggie. Add some nutrients and color. We enjoyed it with asparagus.
6) Remember the recipe is a template. Feel free to make it your own! You don’t have to follow a recipe to a T to make it come out delicious! You don’t miss a thing with these lightened-up modifications.