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Articles Fitness Nutrition

Recipe Re-Do: Stuffed Jumbo Pasta Shells

Aug 5, 2014
Pasta is always a great choice as it is filling and easy to make.  This recipe below has been a family favorite for a long time.  Although it is satisfying and easy to make there is a healthier side of this recipe that can be just as fulfilling.

pasta shells.jpg

Original Stuffed Shells                 
Yields:  8 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 (16ounce) package jumbo pasta shells       
  • 4 cups large curd cottage cheese           
  • 12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded       
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese           
  • 1 (26 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten                   
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
As shown above, this recipe is approximately 520 calories per serving
(one serving = 5 shells cooked and filled)
40 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat
8 grams of saturated fat
6 grams of sugar
98 mg of cholesterol
1310 mg of sodium
4 grams of fiber

FitDay-Approved Recipe               
Yields:  8 servings

Ingredients:
  • 1 package whole-wheat jumbo pasta shells        
  • 1 package frozen spinach (excess water squeezed out)
  • 1 16 ounce package, firm water-packed tofu, drained and lightly pressed between paper towels
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 jars spaghetti sauce (or prepare your own)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  2. Prepare pasta shells according to package direction.  Drain and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, blend basil leaves, garlic and walnuts until minced.  Break tofu into chunks and add to food processor along with olive oil until tofu and basil mixture are well combined.  Add Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste and blend again.  Mixture will have consistency of ricotta cheese.
  4. Loosely separate thawed spinach and place in a large mixing bowl.  Add tofu mixture and blend together.
  5. In a 9-by 12 casserole dish, pour enough spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom of the pan.  Stuff shells with tofu pesto spinach mixture.  Place in baking dish.  Cover with spaghetti sauce.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until bubbling.
This recipe is approximately:
  • 400 calories per serving (one serving = 5 shells cooked and filled)
  • 20 grams of protein
  • 17 grams of fat
  • 3 grams of saturated fat
  • 8 grams of sugar
  • 3 mg of cholesterol
  • 520 mg of sodium
  • 9 grams of fiber
Keep in mind that recipes are a baseline for your finished product.  Different store bought ingredients are going to yield slightly different calories.  

The reduced calorie version yields a lot of benefits for this recipe.  By using whole wheat pasta shells and tofu we have reduced the overall calories as well as the saturated fat content and increased the overall fiber content of this meal.  We have also significantly reduced the sodium content by nearly 40%.

Tofu is a versatile product that is basically tasteless.  Tofu tends to take on whatever flavors you cook with it.  Tofu is a high quality soy protein that is an excellent source of calcium and potassium.  Tofu has no cholesterol, low in sodium and high in protein.  

This has become one of my family favorites and it is virtually guilt free, especially added with a large green salad with lots of fresh vegetables and a light vinaigrette salad.  Enjoy!

Angela Hattaway is a Nutritionist and Personal Trainer with over 15 years experience. She got her BS in Nutrition and Dietetics from Stephen F. Austin State University and she also has a Master's Degree in Business with an emphasis on Healthcare. Angela is experienced in working with both children and adults and loves working with clients to help them set realistic goals and expectations. She is passionate about nutrition and fitness and feels this comes through when she works with people. Angela loves giving clients the tools, motivation and encouragement they need to be successful throughout their lives. Visit her blog at blog.ultimatenutritionnfitness.com. She can be reached via email at at foodjunkie@nutritionnfitenss.com.


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