March Is Noodle Month

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Skillet Lasagna in Cast Iron SkilletPasta is a versatile pantry staple and often a family favorite. It sometimes has a reputation as being unhealthy. However, pasta provides many nutrients for our body including complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate, and minerals including iron, magnesium, and selenium. Complex carbohydrates also provide essential energy for children as they grow at a rapid rate.

Pasta pairs well with a variety of food groups including vegetables and herbs, beans, lean proteins, dairy-based sauces, and even some fruits. Combining these nutrient-rich foods is exactly what the Dietary Guidelines encourages us to do most often.

It also recommends that half of our grains should be whole grains. Try incorporating whole-grain pasta into your family’s favorite pasta dish. If your family isn’t used to eating whole-grain pasta, consider starting the change gradually. Try doing half and half, refined grain and whole-grain. Even small changes will add nutritional value to your meal.

Pasta is also an easy way to sneak in vegetables for your picky-eaters. Add spinach and shredded carrots to spaghetti sauce or broccoli and green beans to macaroni and cheese. Peas, tomatoes, and zucchini are other options for add-ins.

Skillet Lasagna

This quick and easy one-pan dish provides four out of the five MyPlate food groups. To decrease fat and cholesterol, omit ground beef, and add vegetables, such as zucchini or broccoli.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, scrubbed with clean vegetable brush under running water, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 3 cups whole wheat egg noodles, uncooked
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef, onion, and garlic. Cook until internal temperature reaches 160°F as measured with a food thermometer. Drain fat.
  2. Add tomato sauce, water, oregano, basil, and salt if desired. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add noodles and stir. Cover and boil gently for 5 minutes.
  4. Break up thawed spinach in small pieces. Stir in skillet mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover and boil gently for 5 minutes. Stir mixture again.
  5. Spoon cottage cheese on top. Sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until noodles are tender and mixture is hot and bubbly. Add water if it gets too thick.