Every now and then, I have a love affair with pasta and this picture says why.
- AND MORE CARBS!
I love bread, pasta, burgers, fries, and dessert, which will surely keep weight on your bones, but I can’t help it. I like what I like. What I think is most interesting about the foods that all of us love is how we are subconsciously addicted to them. I mean think about it, when you go on a diet or try to watch what you are putting into your body, you ever notice how difficult it is? How many times have you said “just one more bite” to a cookie, a french fry, or fried chicken in your life? Our brains become addicted to food and when we go through those phases of withdrawal, our bodies are literally going into detox. Do you know that food companies spend millions of dollars to find out what will make or brains crave food? Oh yea. I read that in this article. There are food scientist that works for some of these food companies that research and discover ways to keep us craving food that gives is pleasure. Our brains love savory, sweet, and fatty foods. Our brain can really control what we eat if we allow ourselves to give into our brain and give the body what we think it wants. The best way to kick this habit is to detox or slowly get away from junk food eating. Let me tell you a story about how I did this a couple of years ago.
Toward the end of 2011 I had a physical and blood work drawn up by my doctor. The blood work came back that I was pre-diabetic. Freaking the hell out, I really began to watch what I ate and worked out regularly. As a result of this in spring of 2012 I discovered, without knowing, I lost about 30 pounds. Now, I have gained most of back and trying to go back to where I was mentally that helped me to lose the weight in the first place. Anyway, I was not only serious about getting healthy but about eating healthier. I was never a bad or seriously unhealthy eater, but I will admit that I didn’t really eat a lot of healthy foods. I drank a lot of sugary juices, ate fruit cups, processed foods, etc. Anyway, I wanted to change my taste palette so I did the Fat Smash Diet. First of all let me say, I am not a fan of diets but that diet and Weight Watchers I have heard and witnessed good and realistic results. The Fat Smash diet helps you understand what should be going into your body, versus what shouldn’t. You start eating like a vegan for 2 weeks and then your proteins and breads are added later down the line. When I did this diet….your girl had an attitude! I was irritated, I had headaches, and I was craving and desired everything unhealthy to go in my body. I seriously detoxed! It felt insane. As the time went on it got easier, but I will never forget how I felt. As a result, I discovered that I love beans, fruit began to taste like candy, vegetables even tasted sweet to me, and if I did eat a cookie or anything unhealthy it was way to sweet to where I didn’t want it or really gross to me. Now although some of those taste habits are still there for me, I am retraining my body to appreciate what it needs and only occasionally giving it what it wants.
I want you guys to try this Stuffed Pasta Shells dish. You can still have those foods you love but in moderation. You can get really healthy with this dish. You can make your own pasta sauce or add some fresh tomatoes, peppers, and/or mushrooms if you want. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can use Morning Star Soy Crumbles as the filling and use Diya Cheese to go on top. Speaking of Diya Cheese, you know they have Parmesan cheese now! I need to try it. Anywho, you can recreate this dish anyway you want. I used ground turkey and added some fresh tomatoes to the sauce for my personal flare. Instead of eating a huge plate of this, I ate 3 shells and sautéed some fresh green beans and I felt great! Eating healthier is a goal you can meet you just have to be willing to try new things. So try this dish and let me know how it turns out for you.
- 2 lb. ground turkey or beef
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. pepper
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 2 tsp. basil leaves
- 2 tsp. oregano leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1¼ c. ricotta cheese
- ½ c. Parmesan cheese, grated
- 12 oz. box pasta shells
- 1 lb. jar pasta sauce
- ½ c. Parmesan cheese, grated
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, grated
- Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
- Fill a large sauce pot with water and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook the pasta shells until al dente. Drain the shells reserving 1 cup of the pasta water and return to the pot but not to the heat. Drizzle and toss with olive oil and add the reserved water so the shells won't dry out. Cover and set aside.
- In a large skillet on medium heat, begin to cook the ground turkey until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Once the meat is cooked drain any excess oil and turn to a bowl and season with salt, pepper, onion powder, basil leaves, oregano leaves, and minced garlic. Allow the meat to cool before adding the ricotta cheese.
- Take a rectangular casserole dish that is 9X13. Take about ¼ cup of the pasta sauce and spread on the bottom of the dish using the back of a spoon so the shells won't stick to the pan. Going back to the seasoned turkey, add the ricotta cheese and ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Stir until well combined. Fill each pasta shell with a spoonful of the ground turkey mixture and place inside of the casserole dish until full.
- Take the remaining pasta sauce and pour over the rest of the pasta shells. Sprinkle the ½ cup of Parmesan cheese on top of the shells and then the fresh mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is fully melted and slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.