This post is sponsored by MAZOLA® Corn Oil.
It’s going on month 6 of me working full-time and the struggle y’all! We’ve been eating out way more than I want I have to say, I’m tired of it. I didn’t even want to eat out for my birthday and Valentine’s Day which are in the same week, because we’d eaten out a few times already. This week I had to be proactive in making some meals ahead starting with this lighter version of a cheesy baked pasta. I swapped out several ingredients to reduce fat, cholesterol, gluten and carbs. The first swap included substituting olive oil with Mazola® Corn Oil to brown the meat. “A clinical study showed of Mazola® Corn Oil 40 oz reduces cholesterol 2x more than extra virgin olive oil. To learn more about this claim see MAZOLA.com“
With the job on top of my other responsibilities I haven’t been exercising like I used to. To counteract the lack of exercise I’ve made some adjustments to this recipe so it better for me than the original recipe.
To make this dish lighter I swapped out ground beef for ground turkey. Ground turkey is leaner and lower in fat so it’s a better option. I took even further by reducing the meat in this recipe by half and substituting it with Brussel sprouts.
What I love about this recipe is how convenient it is for busy work weeks and how fast it cooks. Within 30 minutes the meat is browned and the casserole is in the oven baking.
To make this recipe I start with a large pot of boiling water with a tablespoon of both salt and Mazola Corn Oil added in. The salt adds flavor to the pasta and the corn oil keeps my noodles from sticking. Mazola Corn Oil has a neutral taste so it won’t change the flavor of the noodles at all.
While I wait for the water to come to a boil, I heat a medium pan with a tablespoon of Mazola Corn Oil. To that pan I add a half pound of ground turkey which I season and cook until brown. To make this recipe lighter, I’m using half the meat as I’d normally use and substituting half with Brussel sprouts.
When cooking my ground turkey I start with a tablespoon of Mazola Corn Oil to make sure the turkey browns. Ground Turkey releases a lot of water when it cooks which can cause the meat to boil and not brown. To make sure the meat browns I cook it on medium-high with corn oil. Mazola Corn Oil is perfect for this step in the recipe it has a “smoke point higher than most cooking oils at 450°F and performs well in a variety of cooking applications, including stir-frying, sautéing, grilling and even baking. All cooking oils have a smoke point that, once exceeded, negatively affect the food’s flavor and nutritional value.” source
Once the pasta water comes to a boil I pour in a 16 oz. box whole wheat pasta. I used whole grain pasta instead of white pasta because of the higher nutritional value. Whole grain includes the entire grain and has nothing removed during processing. Whole grains noodles are higher in fiber and digestive properties. Swapping out white flour pasta for whole grain pasta took some adjusting, but now we love it as much as we did white flour pasta. The flavor and texture are a little different from white pasta but we kept using it until we liked it. The nutritional value in the whole grain pasta is worth the effort.
While the meat and pasta cooks, I start cutting up my Brussel Sprouts. I usually add in spinach but I wanted to try something a little different this time. Using Brussel Sprouts adds more texture to the dish because the sprouts are still firm after the casserole is baked. Using Brussel sprouts in the recipe and less meat increases the amount of fiber and makes this a full meal in one pot. There’s whole grain, protein, dairy and vegetables all in one pot.
After the pasta is drained I combine the ground turkey, pasta, brussel sprouts, ricotta cheese and mozzarella in a large bowl. This step lets me get everything mixed together throughly before adding it to my casserole dish. Once everything is mixed it’s poured into a casserole dish and baked at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly.
The casserole is best eaten hot while the cheeses are soft and creamy. The noodles are firm and flavorful while the brussel sprouts are tender. The cheeses and pasta sauce create a delicious creaminess that coats each noodle perfectly.
You should give this recipe a try using the ingredient swaps I shared. This is not only a great family dinner that’s easy to make, but also a better for you version using Mazola Corn Oil.