It snowed in Massachusetts yesterday. Snowed. It’s only October 19th, how have we already seen the first snow? Luckily, we’re back to seasonal temps this week so hopefully won’t see snow again until Christmastime. 🙂 With all of this chilly weather comes a craving for comfort foods.

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Pasta dishes with red sauce are one of my favorite comfort foods. Since the Atkins craze though, pasta has gotten a bad rep. In reality, pasta isn’t all that unhealthy with a few smart choices. As I heard Ellie Krieger say on the Food Network recently, it’s not pasta that’s so bad, it’s the amount people eat. That’s so true – and true about a lot of foods. We tend to focus on quantity not quality and many of us were brought up to finish what was on our plate. To keep pasta dishes healthy, it’s important to remember a few tips:

  • Use whole grain or whole wheat pasta whenever possible. While the calories per serving are comparable (about 200 calories per cup of cooked spaghetti), whole wheat pasta has about three times as much fiber per serving. Fiber will keep you more satisfied. And, it’s recommended that at least half of your grains each day come from whole grains. Rice pasta is a great alternative as well.
  • When topping pasta with a sauce, choose red sauces over cream-based ones. A half cup of marinara is about 75 calories and 2 grams of fat vs. 200 calories and 12 grams of fat in a half cup of alfredo sauce.
  • When adding meat, stick to lean beef, chicken, pork or turkey. Remember this post? Choosing ground turkey or lean ground beef will save you from added calories and extra fat.
  • Stick to a proper serving size. One serving of pasta equals approximately 1 cup of cooked or 2 oz. of dry pasta. Get out your measuring cup!

A while ago, I saw a recipe for a lasagna-in-a-bowl dish from Rachael Ray. While I love her creative and quick recipes, the dishes aren’t normally very nutritious. With Rachael’s recipe as my inspiration, I created a Deconstructed Meat Lasagna. Not only is this dish quicker than a normal lasagna recipe, it’s healthy and scalable for one or two people. Having a pan full of lasagna in my house would just go to waste so this recipe works for me. This meal was so delicious and simple. I will definitely be making it again and I hope you do too!

Deconstructed Meat Lasagna

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, broken in half.

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 small white onion, chopped

4 oz. 95% lean ground beef

1 c. tomato sauce

1 c. reduced fat cottage cheese

2 Tbsp. dried parsley

Preparation:

1. Cook lasagna noodles according to directions on the box.

2. While noodles are cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onion. After two minutes, add crumbles of ground beef to skillet.

3. Let meat cook for 5-7 minutes until brown, stirring often.

4. In a bowl, mix cottage cheese and parsley until well combined. Microwave for 30 seconds.

5. Once meat is nearly cooked through, add tomato sauce and cook for another 2 minutes.

6. Drain lasagna noodles and set aside.

7. Remove beef/sauce mixture from heat.

8. Lay 2-3 noodles on a plate, top with cottage cheese mixture then beef/sauce mixture.

9. Repeat step 8 two more times then repeat the process for the other serving.

10. Serve immediately and enjoy! 

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