Tonight was another "healthify a classic favorite" night! I can't tell you how happy my hubb was when I told him we were having baked ziti. Especially since I was planning to use our favorite sweet italian sausage from Babes in the Woods. This sausage is so good and so lean...I didn't even have to drain any fat out of the pan after I cooked it. It browned and crumbled perfectly. I also used fat free ricotta and low-moisture part-skim mozzarella to help lower the fat, and whole grain brown rice pasta instead of semolina...you can't even tell the difference! Brian said he honestly wouldn't have known that I used fat free ricotta if I hadn't told him...woohoo! This recipe is so easy...just brown the sausage, boil the noodles, mix everything together and pop it in the oven at 350* for 30 minutes. Dinner? Done. Of course, you don't want to have it every night or even every week, but the "healthified" version is much better for you than the original!
"Healthified" Baked Zitimakes 12 servingscalories: 286 fat: 8.3g sat fat: 3g carbs: 37.1g fiber: 2.4g sugar: 6.4g protein: 15.4gIngredients:
16 oz brown rice penne pasta
1 jar marinara sauce (about 3 cups)
15 oz container of fat free ricotta cheese (I used Sorrento)
Boil noodles until al dente and drain. If using brown rice pasta noodles beware...they only take a few minutes to soften.
Brown sausage on medium heat in non-stick pan.
In large bowl, mix pasta and sausage together.
In smaller bowl, mix together ricotta and marinara sauce. Pour ricotta/sauce mixture into bowl with pasta and sausage and toss until coated.
Spread mixture in 9x13 pan and top with shredded cheese (I used a bit of cheddar/jack because I ran out of mozzarella).
Pop in oven at 350* for 30 minutes.
Dinner: I had one serving of ziti, which was PLENTY for me. (Just picture cutting the shorter width into 3 pieces and the long width into 4 pieces). I think Brian had three... I also made a giant spinach salad with
3 cups fresh spinach
1/4 yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup hearts of palm (love love love love these!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
1/2 a chopped celery stalk
1 tbsp Ken's Lite Ranch
sprinkle of sliced almonds
And a Pellegrino White Cranberry Juice bevi...
And for dessert, my FAVORITE sorbet, Ciao Bella!!! (in blood orange flavor...yum!) This stuff is amazing, trust me. And only 98 calories for 1/2 cup. Yum.
I am now completely and totally full and satisfied. :) Are there any classic favorite comfort food recipes that you've "healthified"?
When we were in college, my roommate Jackie and I used to make a big "southern dinner" and invite a bunch of friends over to feast. The meal consisted of:
breaded, fried chicken tenders
macaroni and cheese
collard greens w/ bacon
black eyed peas
These six items are at the top of my list of favorite comfort foods, and those meals are some of my favorite memories from college. After we started dating, they quickly became some of Brian's favorites as well. I already mentioned that my hubby was craving some good ol' stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, and this was exactly the kind of meal he wanted.
So, tonight we cooked together and made chicken tenders, mac + cheese, garlic + dill mashed potatoes and steamed green beans (I had to have SOMETHING healthy!). It was a wonderful, filling meal, and I didn't even try to over-"healthify" anything (hubby may have divorced me...not really!). I did load my plate with steamed green beans and took smaller-than-normal helpings of the other, not-so-healthy options though.
The one thing I changed in my mom's amazing mac + cheese recipe was that I used brown rice pasta instead of semolina...I LOVE this stuff! Its texture is so similar to semolina, I don't even notice a difference.
I loved the meal, and I loved cooking with Brian, and I love that this kind of food brings back such great memories of friends and family, but I don't love the guilty, nagging voice I have in my head that is telling me I should have tried to make a healthier dinner. :( Why does classic comfort food always involve frying, cheese and potatoes? Now, I'm not saying that my healthy meals don't evoke satisfying feelings, because they do, its just a different kind of satisfaction. Think how heightened my enjoyment of the meal would have been if I had made healthy chicken fingers, mac + cheese and mashed potatoes that still tasted just as good as the originals?!?!
So I'm setting a new challenge for myself and my hubby. One night a week we are going to pick a classic comfort food from mine or Brian's past and "healthify" it. And we're going to do it together, because part of what was so great about tonight (and last night's home made pizza) was being in the kitchen cooking side-by-side.
And, another even bigger challenge for myself is this: On these very occasional nights when we decide to have a blast-from-the-past with a not-so-healthy meal I'm not going to feel guilty about it, because it doesn't happen THAT often. :)