Emily Alvers



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    Ooey Gooey Baked Pasta

    Alright, I know what you're thinking....how can anything with the words Ooey Gooey in the title be healthy? No one ever said healthy food has to taste like cardboard, and this dish will prove that point beyond a shadow of a doubt. There are plenty of people out there who either come from Italian families or just love Italian food. Who doesn't? Well rest assured, not everything that's good in life has to be bad for you.

    This recipe is a much healthier version of traditional baked ziti, and I guarantee you won't miss all that extra fat, cholesterol one bit. Next time you're in the mood for pizza on a friday night or are tempted to head for Olive Garden in a desperate attempt to avoid cooking, try this recipe.

    -1/2 box Barilla Plus penne (2.5 cups dry)
    -24 oz. jar Classico or Barilla marinara (look for 12 g carbs max/6 g sugar max per serving)
    -15 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
    -8 oz. bag shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (2 cups)
    -1 cup fresh raw spinach leaves
    -1/4 cup reduced fat grated parmesan cheese

    Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 F. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, add jar of marinara sauce. Fill empty jar up 1/2 way with water (12 oz.) and add to dish. Stir with spoon.

    Step 2: Tear fresh spinach leaves into tiny pieces and pack into 1 cup. Add to marinara along with ricotta, 1/2 of mozzarella, parmesan, and uncooked penne (No need to boil!) Stir well with spoon.

    Step 3: Cover with foil and bake for 55 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella, and cook an additional 5 minutes until cheese melts. Remove and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

    It's so easy a 5 year old could make it. Hey not a bad idea...Teach your teen to make this and have dinner waiting for you when you get home! No boiling of noodles required, dirties only one dish, and provides 8 large servings for less than $10. Add some lean ground turkey breast to increase the protein content or cut the amount of mozzarella to reduce the fat content even more if you wish. Goes great with a side salad!

    Nutrition Facts:
    322 calories
    12.5 g fat
    34 g carbs
    4 g fiber
    21 g protein
    4 g sugar

    *Compare that to Olive Garden's 5 Cheese Ziti Al Forno with a whopping 1050 calories, 33 g fat, 79 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 37 g protein, and 10 g sugar.

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