Feeding a family while watching your waistline can be challenging. Your plate and their plate likely look very different. The easiest way to overcome the temptation of munching on what “they” are eating, is making something healthy and delicious the whole family can enjoy.
Casseroles are often filled with laden calories hidden in cream and cheeses…that’s why we love them. They are pure comfort food during the colder months of the year. However, if you want your shorts to fit in time for Spring break, you’ll have to start cutting back now. It’s possible to make delicious, everyday food that is not fattening, which is why this Healthier Spaghetti Bake is the perfect place to start.
What’s important when cooking with lower calorie ingredients is to season your layers well; the meat, the veggies, the pasta. Since we are using low-fat cheeses, they are essentially more bland. I did not list amounts of salt or pepper to add, as everyone’s tastes/requirements for salt are so different. I’ll leave that up to you. I also sprinkled my portion with the green pepper Tabasco I told you about in this post. That really makes it pop and adds a slight amount of heat.
With all the ingredients, the baking dish is really packed high, which means the portions are large…that’s a good thing. And it packs perfectly for leftovers at the office.
You can easily heat it up in the microwave. I know when I’m reheating pasta in the microwave, I always add a little bit of water to my dish and cover it so it steams. This leaves the pasta tasting more hydrated.
If you serve this with a large side of steamed veggies for yourself you will be quite satisfied! Let the kids have the garlic bread.
There are so many healthy dinners to choose from when it comes to feeding your family something lower in calorie. This Healthy Sausage Kale Quinoa Skillet sounds like a perfect weeknight meal. Or maybe this Thai Shrimp Stir Fry with Zucchini is going to be the perfect healthy dish for your family. I don’t think you can go wrong with these Skinny Baked Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas. And Garlic Shrimp with Quinoa also has my name all over it.
Two years ago I made these Bacon, Egg & Toast Cups and I’ve made them for almost every brunch since. Four years ago my kiddos went nuts for Spike Mendelsohn’s Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, trust me they are so insanely tasty. Five years ago this Cheesy Pepperoni Pizza Dip helped me kick off dip season.
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HEALTHIER SPAGHETTI BAKE
- 8 oz extra lean ground beef (97/3)
- 8 oz extra lean ground turkey
- salt and pepper
- 12 oz broccoli crowns, break any large pieces apart
- 8 oz sliced white button mushrooms
- 1-1/4 lbs (20 oz) dry whole wheat spaghetti
- 4 cups pasta sauce*
- 2 cups low fat ricotta cheese
- 1 cup cottage cheese, 2%
- 2 links Johnsonville fully cooked Smoked Turkey Sausages with Cheddar**, sliced into coins & quartered
- 4 oz shredded light mozzarella cheese, divided
- 4 Tablespoons shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided.
- In a skillet over med-high heat, cook beef and turkey until cooked through (make sure to season with salt and pepper while cooking). Remove from pan and without wiping out, add broccoli and mushrooms over med-high heat (if your skillet needs a little more grease spray it with some cooking spray). Cook mushrooms until slightly browned and broccoli has softened slightly (it will help if you can put a lid on the pan after sauteing for a few minutes with a Tablespoon of water to create a little steam). Remove from heat and salt slightly.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook spaghetti until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine meat mixture, pasta sauce, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese and diced sausages.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by lightly spraying bottom and sides with cooking spray.
- Add half of the cooked spaghetti to the bottom of the pan. Pour half of the meat sauce-cheese mixture over the spaghetti. Add all of the broccoli-mushroom mixture on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella and half the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Top with the remaining spaghetti and the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with final amounts of mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- Bake for 40 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
- *I decided to use a “spaghetti sauce” instead of a marinara. I felt a marinara would be too watery for this dish. But maybe adding tomato paste to the marinara might be an option. Just make sure you stick to a sauce that is 70 calories per 1/2 cup serving.
- **I used the fully cooked Johnsonville Smoked Turkey sausages with cheddar. There are lots of low-calorie sausages you could use. Choose whatever works best for you. Look for ones that are 120 calories per link to stay within this recipe’s calorie parameters.
- Make sure to season with salt and pepper to your own taste.
- Serving size: 1 piece
- Calories: 354
- Fat: 8 g
- Saturated fat: 3 g
- Unsaturated fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 48 g
- Sugar: 13 g
- Fiber: 8 g
- Protein: 30 g
- Cholesterol: 46 mg
Prepare Your Own Healthy Spaghetti
Spaghetti is a long, thin, solid, cylindrical noodle pasta. It is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine. Like other pasta dishes, spaghetti is made of milled wheat and water which is often enriched with vitamins and minerals. It is also known as a part of a healthy diet plan. So I’m upholding a recipe to make it in an easy process.
Ingredients You Will Need
- Spaghetti. Any pasta will work. I would prefer to use whole wheat or whole grain because it contains fiber and nutrients. If you use regular white pasta, please note nutritional information of this delicious spaghetti recipe will change. Gluten-free spaghetti-like brown rice. Please note it cooks much faster than wheat. So watch to avoid a mushy mess.
- Tomato sauce. There are so many tomato products on supermarket shelves these days. In cans and jars. I get lost myself. That is why partially I just buy a 12 case of organic low sodium canned tomato sauce at Costco and use in all my recipes. Another reason is that other tomato products are expensive. Often for no reason. To make good spaghetti, you need a can of cheap tomato sauce that reads “tomato sauce”. Preferably low sodium. Not “spaghetti sauce”, not “pizza sauce”, not “pasta sauce”, not “marinara sauce”. Just “tomato sauce”.
- Parmesan cheese. Pre-grated Parmesan cheese in a shaker contains cellulose as a filler. It is ground up wood chips. It is not pure Parmesan cheese. Plus it doesn’t taste nearly as fresh. I highly recommend to use fresh and real Parmesan. I usually buy a hunk, grate as much as I need, and refrigerate in a container for up to 2–3 months. Then freeze the remainder in a Ziploc bag. When needed, thaw, grate and freeze remainder again.
- Extra virgin olive oil and fresh garlic
- Dried oregano, salt, and pepper
How to Make Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce
- Cook spaghetti. Fill large Dutch oven or pot with cold water 3/4 full and bring to a boil. Add 2 tsp salt and spaghetti. Separate pasta with tongs a few times during the first 2 minutes of cooking to ensure it does not stick. Keep cooking uncovered for 5 more minutes or until al dente, stirring occasionally.
- Drain pasta. Taste spaghetti for doneness towards the end by grabbing one strand onto a plate with tongs. Do not overcook until too soft. The key to tasty pasta is firmly cooked pasta. Drain in a colander.
- Cook garlic. Return pot to medium heat and add olive oil, 4 garlic cloves, and oregano. Cook for 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Garlic cooks fast, so don’t walk away and not burn. Turn off the heat.
- Add drained pasta, tomato sauce, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, and 1 more fresh garlic clove. Stir gently until warmed through. That 1 clove of fresh garlic at the end is a must!
Refrigerate spaghetti leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To reheat, add to a pot with a splash of water and simmer on low