Cottage Cheese Pasta Bake
I love pasta, and I eat it as a part of my normal diet, not just birthdays and holidays. I have found that the trick to having my rigatoni and eating it too (without gaining those telltale tortellini thighs) is threefold.
1. I make sure I add a ton of vegetables as well as a bit of lean protein to a standard 2oz serving of pasta to fill me up without filling me out. A 2oz serving of pasta looks so sad all by itself, and is really unsatisfying. By making my pasta dishes a complete meal, I still get to enjoy it, but I also don’t find myself accidentally eating 3 or more servings of pure carbohydrates (which is pretty easy to do with noodles and red sauce).
2. I look for a higher quality carbohydrate. I like whole wheat pasta, but I know that it really disturbs some people. Check out soba (buckwheat) noodles; they are a delicious high fiber and high protein alternative to spaghetti. Try to avoid the white flour pasta, which will spike your blood sugar levels and signal your body to start storing fat.
3. I avoid the excessive and gratuitous use of cheese. Can you taste the 4 cups of mozzarella you have mixed into your lasagne filling? I usually can’t. If I am going to use cheese in a pasta dish, I save it for last and sprinkle it over the top right before I bake it (if it’s baked) or right before I serve it. I find that I can use a lot less of a higher quality more flavorful cheese and enjoy it more if I do things this way than if I’m using bags of shredded cheese throughout my dish. An ounce of cheese (about the size of the tip of your thumb) usually has about 100 calories and 10 grams of fat, give or take a few. You can easily slim things down by cutting here.
Cottage Cheese Pasta Bake
4 generous servings
I looove this dish! It’s really versatile, you can throw in pretty much any vegetables you have in the house, and you could add chicken or lean beef if you wanted to, but the cottage cheese provides a ton of protein on its own. If you prefer a more whipped, ricotta-like consistency, you can blend the cottage cheese in a blender or food processor before combining it with everything else.
3 dry cups whole wheat fusilli, or other shape
1 16oz container of low fat (1%) cottage cheese
1 24oz jar of pasta sauce (avoid brands with added sugars, tomatoes are sweet enough on their own!)
1 zucchini, chopped
1 large head of broccoli, chopped
10 oz frozen spinach, thawed
Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. In a large bowl combine all ingredients, including the cooked pasta, and stir until everything is well mixed. Bake an oven safe dish at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes.
Nutrition Information per serving: 418 calories, 4g fat, 63g carbohydrates, 10 g fiber, 29g protein.