I may not be Italian, but who doesn't love Italian food? If you don't, ya crazy! Ah the yummy pasta, gooey cheeses, and the hearty sauces, everything about Italian food just makes my mouth water! The only downside to Italian food is most of the time you're not able to find any healthy options, it's loaded with carbs, fat, more carbs and more fat. So whenever I see a food or recipe that I love (that is unhealthy) I can't help but put myself up to the challenge to make that dish healthy! So here's my Baked Ziti recipe.
Let's go shopping!
One thing that irritates the crap out of me is having to go to multiple grocery stores to find exactly what I'm needing for a recipe, and unfortunately this time around I wasn't able to find everything at one store, luckily the stores that I had to go to are relatively close to one another. My first stop was at Sprouts, I LOVE Sprouts! Sprouts has some very specific items that I can only get there and will only get there because they are so good, that being said I picked up the Hot Italian Chicken Sausage. Let me tell you, this Italian Sausage is the best! I really can't tell a difference in taste from the chicken Italian sausage to the pork Italian sausage! My next stop was Super Target where I picked up the Barilla Protein Pasta and the Ragu Simply, no sugar added. When I have a recipe that calls for pasta I usually pick up the protein pasta, because I like to have a healthy amount of protein in my diet and I feel like it tastes the best compared to all the other "healthy" pasta's out there and I has a good texture like real pasta.
My next stop was Walmart where I picked up the Ricotta Cheese, I used the part skim milk kind to keep the fat lower. Finally, my last stop was at Reasors. Side note- I am a Colorado girl and grew up going to King Soopers, Safeway, or Albertsons so when I moved to Oklahoma I was like, "what is this place?" It feels to me more like a Safeway than anything, basically it's a dang grocery store. Back on track, at Reasor's I picked up
the fat free mozzarella, usually I try to do part skim to keep the fat lower, but they had fat free cheese, so I was like sure why the heck not, let's give it a whirl. After all of this running around and shopping for ingredients we can finally get home and start cooking this yumminess!
9x13 inch casserole dish
1 lb, Hot Italian Chicken Sausage
4 oz, Mozzarella
0.25 cup (62g), Low Fat Ricotta Cheese
1 container (2 1/2 cup (125g) ea.), Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
6 ounce, Penne
2 packets of Truvia
1tsp of Garlic Powder
1Tbsp of Basil
Once you get home and start cooking you will want to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, then you will brown the ground chicken sausage. Once the sausage is good and cooked you will add the Ragu sauce with two packets of Truvia, I like to use Truvia because it is a sweetener made from the stevia plant, not an artificial sweetener, and I just like a little bit of sweetness to my sauce.
After that I will start boiling the noodles to AL DENTE! While the noodles are cooking I mix about 3/4 of the mozzarella and all of the Ricotta cheese together, adding basil seasoning (or fresh basil if you want to be fancy) and a teaspoon of garlic powder, stir that all up until it's mixed up very well together.
Now we start layering this yumminess! Coat the bottom of the casserole dish with the meat sauce, then dab chunks of the ricotta/mozzarella mix on top of that, and on top of that the sauce. Repeat once more and add the remainder of the mozzarella cheese on the very top. Place in the oven for 25 minutes covered with foil, and uncovered for another 10 minutes.
Once you take it out of the oven you're going to want to let it cool for a little while before serving, I don't want you to burn your mouth! I like to serve it with a healthy side salad with vinaigrette or light Italian dressing.
Hope you and your family enjoy this amazing recipe! Let me know when you make it! I would love to hear what your family says about how good it is AND that it's healthy! Here's the nutrition facts below.
Nutrition FactsServings 6.0 Amount Per Serving calories 308 % Daily Value *Total Fat 10 g 15 % Saturated Fat 2 g 12 % Monounsaturated Fat 0 g Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g Trans Fat 0 g Cholesterol 84 mg 28 % Sodium 805 mg 34 % Potassium 438 mg13 % Total Carbohydrate 25 g 8 % Dietary Fiber 6 g 23 % Sugars 9 g Protein 28 g 57 % Vitamin A 9 % Vitamin C 3 % Calcium 20 % Iron 26 %* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.