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“Healthy” Baked Ziti for kids – and parents – from nutritionist, Robin Barrie

Robin Barrie’s Baked Ziti

This is a dish I created recently on a whim, knowing that my oldest son had tasted and enjoyed it at camp last summer. I had never tried it at home, figuring it was too much of a “food combination” dish that the boys would refuse.  Just like most kids, mine haven’t met a noodle they didn’t like, so I gave it a shot and served them something a little “different” that is still healthy. It was a hit! Whole wheat pasta is more filling because it contains fiber. This is a great dish to add/hide veggies if your little ones don’t love them.  Another option to truly “hide” the vegetables would be to cook/blend them into the sauce FIRST, so that they can’t be “seen” by little eyes. The cheeses I use are both lower in fat, lower in cholesterol / saturated fat (thus lower in calories) than regular cheese.  You could also get crazy and add ground meat (turkey, chicken beef or even tofu) and/or gluten-free pasta and/or dairy-free cheese or nutritional yeast as needed.  Let me know what you think!!

Ingredients:

  • Package of organic, whole wheat Italian pasta from The Fresh Market (you can use any pasta but make sure to UNDER cook by a couple of minutes since it cooks more in oven)
  • 1 to 2 cups spinach (depending on size of baking dish….or any vegetables)
  • Rao’s Homemade Marinara sauce
  • Organic Valley part-skim shredded mozzarella
  • Organic Valley shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Red chili flakes and parsley to taste

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Coat oven pan with olive oil spray (or a light coating of olive oil).
  • Place noodles in pan and add in spinach (and other vegetables or meat as mentioned above), desired amount of sauce (my kids prefer a little less), about 1/2 cup of Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, and chili flakes/parsley as desired. Mix all together.
  • Add a layer of sauce and another thin layer of cheese and then parsley to garnish top.
  • Place in oven for about 20 minutes or until cheese begins to brown and bubble.
  • Serve and ENJOY!

You can find more recipes – and nutrition tips- from Robin by following her at @RobinBarrie

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