Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Resolve to get healthy with Lightened Ricotta Stuffed Shells and Sausage Ragu

It's a new year, a time for possibilities and brighter futures. For many, it's a time for the annual New Year's resolution. And, for almost as many, it's the same resolution they made last year, and the year before, and maybe even the year before that!

Can you tell that I'm not a fan of resolutions? That's because we tend to make our resolutions big and broad, "I want to lose weight," or "I want to get in shape." Neither are a particularly good plan for success.

When I was a rebellious teen refusing to listen to direction, my dad would often say, with a lot of frustration, "It's the little things that are the hardest and most important." Then, as a young Marine recruit who had just committed some minor infraction I had a drill instructor scream in my face, "Proper prior planning prevents pi$$-poor performance."

The point? If you want to change your life, whether it's losing weight, being more healthy, or something else, you need a detailed plan that makes small changes over time. It took me three years to lose more than 100 pounds, but by making one small change at a time and keeping a steady pace, I believe I've set myself up for on-going success. I've kept the weight of or nearly a year now.

So here's one small step that can help you if you're trying to lose weight or live a healthier lifestyle: Look for healthier ingredients.

This version of stuffed shells in a perfect example. I used low-fat ricotta, part-skim mozzarella and egg whites in the shell and turkey Italian sausage in the ragu. One serving is only 383 calories with 10 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber, and 31 grams of protein. And, just as important, it got a big thumbs up from the family. The cheese filling was creamy without being overly heavy and sauce was a nice tangy counterpoint. My finicky son couldn't get enough.

Let's eat!

Lightened Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Sausage Ragu
Makes 8 servings
12 ounces (dry) jumbo pasta shells (whole wheat if available)
12 ounces turkey Italian sausage (3 links), casing removed
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
14.5 ounces stewed tomatoes
6 ounces tomato paste
15 ounces non-fat or reduced fat ricotta
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
1 cup shredded Parmesan, divided
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut chiffonade
3 egg whites

Prepare shells according to package directions minus 2 minutes (the shells will finish in the sauce) and drain. Lay the shells out on foil or a backing sheet so that they don't stick together. Discard any that are broken.

Meanwhile, in a sautee pan over medium-high heat, brown the sausage. Drain any excess fat and add the onion. Continue to cook until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add water, stewed tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, basil and egg whites.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Spay a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with non stick. Fill shells with about 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture each and place in a tight single layer in the baking dish. Pour the ragu over the shells and top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Cover and bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 30 minutes. Remove, uncover and let stand about 10 minutes.

Deal of the day: I love using cast iron cookware and this Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned Square Grill Pan is my next purchase. Amazon has it for only $23.49.

Lightened Ricotta Stuffed Shells With Italian Sausage Ragu on Foodista

20 comments: said...

Your stuffed shells sound really healthy and yummy!

Roxan said...

Thank you for this recipe. I love italian food but sometimes it's hard to keep it healthy. I was pleasantly surprised when you listed out the nutritional data!

Ms. WhitePlates said...

A wonderful take on resolutions, thank you Scott. It is so easy to get bogged down in the resolutions and lose sight of why you are doing it. Last year was a difficult year for our family so now we're trying to get out from underneath the debt accumulated and all the other crap and part of that is just one step at a time, organizing one small part of our day before moving on to the next.

Oh, and the recipe? Gorgeous.

rosy+tart said...

Yummy! What a great renovated recipe. I'll have to give it a try - hopefully the hubs won't realize it's good for him! :)

ravienomnoms said...

This sounds really amazing. Thanks so much for your nutritious version! Love it

Scott K said...

Thanks all for the comments!

rosy+tart, my son certainly had no idea, even after thirds!

Jenn@slim-shoppin said...

Hi! I am a new reader. Congrats on your weight loss, that's awesome!

Would you consider being a weight loss success story on my blog. I interviewed 15 people last year losing anywhere between 50 and 200 pounds!

You can e-mail me at Have a great day.

I totally agree about the planning part, if its not detailed and you do something every day then its never going to happen

Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having said...

This sounds delicious! I love that you used turkey sausage. I will definitely be making this soon.

mywanderingspoon said...

Nice...o my I love pasta:)

Green Girl @ A little bit of everything said...

i love stuffed shells but I use a mixture of cheese and spinach.
my resolution is to lose some weight too, and I'm praying is going to happen

hope you're having a wonderful day

Kate @ said...

I love a healthy pasta dish...thank you for sharing this recipe!

Megan said...

It sounds rich and satisfying. My kind of meal!

Mateja ^_^ said...

Tasty bites! Thank you for sharing :)

Be_Radiant said...

I love your stuffing for the shells! Ricotta, tomatoes and basil - that's a winning trio! Not to mention this recipe is perfect on a gloomy January day - my kinda!

Patti said...

Yummo! I can almost taste it! Great recipe!

Christina said...

Yummy - ricotta dishes are my favorite of the Italian dishes. Unfortunately J can't have ricotta b/c of the whey allergy so I forget about them often! This looks so delicious and even better that it's less fat!

Mother Rimmy said...

I really like how you've lightened up what would typically be a much heavier dish. I agree with you, it's small changes over time that stick.

Debbie Decker said...

So glad I found your blog. Awesome recipes! I am making my weight loss journey too-one small step at a time.

thehungryartist said...

This looks heavenly. I'm sure you can't even tell it's lightened because there is still some fat in there. Delicious!

Geena Romano,39.NY NJ said...

i love it.thank you. it is winter march almost spring actually 2011 i will be makin this!

Still eat at times(2x or 3x a month only) still my italian fave dish,i.e. pasta with fett.alfredo/with EXTRA sauce,chicken breast mix in. i am still losing weight,

as i still lost few pounds just LAST WEEK

When i had regular stuff shell,

but i am going to try this next thank you!

i prefer more healthier ground turkey etc.

i like your using that i will too.
i love this.Love ricotta etc. stuff shell
is my weakness,as i see i can have it
and still lose weight so i am happy, always was my fix lol weakness,as lasagna,i have to at times have this. lol

thx for this i am saving the recipe right now.

Geena Romano.39 y.o. Staten Isld.NY
New Jersey Tri-State.

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