Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Spaghetti Casserole

So today, we need to make a dish that we can use that wonderful Pasta Sauce from yesterday in. Like I said, the official taste tester loves pasta.... which is not healthy in any way, shape, or form. Sooooooo I did a little experiment to see how I could reduce the "bad stuff" in this recipe and make it a little healthier.

First step in this process: to go low-fat or not? To me, when you see something that says "low-fat" or "reduced fat" you can automatically assume that its going to have a ton of chemicals and unnatural things in it to make it that way. I didn't want to replace calories with chemicals in my husband's body SO I only chose alternative options that were naturally low-fat. What does this mean? For example, a lower fat version of cottage cheese would be one that's made with 2% milk instead of whole milk. Options like this reduce calories and fat naturally without giving your body a lot of synthetic materials.

OK so here are the ingredients for the spaghetti casserole. As promised, I will tell you how to make this the regular way, without all the healthy stuff for those of you that want the regular version. For everything listed, unless I have specified otherwise, just use the regular version of that product. You can also check out the original version here but please note, I made some MAJOR revisions.

1 lb. Ground Turkey Breast (Regular Version: Use Ground Beef)
Homemade Pasta Sauce
8 oz. Neufchatel Cheese, softened (Regular Version: Use Cream Cheese)
1/4 Cup Light Sour Cream
1/2 lb. 2% Cottage Cheese
1/2 Stick Country Crock Margarine (Regular Version: Use Butter)
8 oz. Whole Grain Pasta
1 cup of your favorite cheese

To start off, preheat your oven to 350 and boil your noodles according to package directions. This is also a good time to brown your turkey meat and set it aside. In a 13x9 pan, spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray and then take half of you country crock margarine and cut it into small squares (set the other half aside). Dot these little square onto the bottom of your spaghetti pan like this:

Next, in a medium sized bowl, mix together your neufchatel cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese until well mixed and set aside. Drain your noodles and put 1/2 of them into the pan on top of your margarine squares. Next, take your sour cream mixture and pour it over the top of your noodles, and then spread it out evenly. It should look something like this:

Next, place the rest of your noodles on top of the sour cream mixture in the pan. Grab the rest of your margarine, cut it into small squares and dot it on top of the pasta like you did before. Here is a picture.

Now, mix your pasta sauce with your turkey meat and pour the whole thing over your noodles in your 13x9.

Bake your casserole in the oven for 30 minutes. Once that 30 minutes is up, take your casserole out, sprinkle your cup of cheese on top, and then bake for an additional 15 minutes. Here are some pictures of your finished product:

This casserole is great and the substitutions and reductions I made didn't sacrifice any taste at all! Below is the comparison of the original and healthier version.

Original Version (Servings: 8)
595 calories/serving

Healthier Version (Servings: 8)
390 calories/serving

WOW, that's a savings of 205 calories! A savings of 205 calories a day would equal about a pound lost every 17 days. That doesn't seem like much but that's 21 pounds lost in 1 year, without sacrificing any taste.

Also, the healthier version has a ton more fiber and protein, and has about half the fat and cholesterol. You can't beat that!

TIP: I couldn't really taste the margarine/butter in the recipe at all so next time I will probably omit that all together. This would save you an additional 40 calories per serving.

What are some ways you make your recipes healthier? Let me know in the comments section below!

Happy Cooking
& Enjoy!!



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