February - Heart Month

April's & Gina's Comfort Food Recipes Turned Healthy

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Gina and April both have family-favorite recipes that can both be categorized as delicious comfort foods.  However, neither is very healthy.  Since February is Heart Month, they called on the experts at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital to turn their cherished recipes into heart-healthy dishes.

Chef Craig Winkler and cardiologist Dr. Kris Vijay, both from the Heart Hospital, have this advice about the food we eat: 

#1: Don’t sacrifice convenience for your health. Fast food and frozen meals are packed with fats and sodium, which are bad for your heart. Choose real foods, for example, real instead of processed cheese. Also, be sure to read labels, keeping an eye on sodium and fat. They recommend a daily intake of sodium is less than 2,300 mg per day – which is equal to about one teaspoon of salt for a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. Also, remember to consume less than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fats.
#2: Considering how you prepare meals. We have been to the supermarket and we have a counter full of fresh vegetables and very healthy chicken breast. What do we do next?  We take that lean chicken breast, season it with salt, coat it in breadcrumbs and fry it. We will take that salad and drench it with ranch dressing. We have taken what had the potential to be a very healthy meal and made it into a 2,000+ calorie meal loaded with fat and sodium.
Think about how you prepare meals:  broiling chicken, poaching fish or grilling pork.  Also, consider the seasonings you use, as they can make a world of difference in battling heart disease. There are "superhero" herbs and spices that have great anti-inflammatory properties and pack a flavor punch to foods.
#3: Consider what you put on your plate, keeping in mind that for a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, you should be eating two cups of fruit, two and a half cups of vegetables, six ounces of grains (half of which should be whole grains), five-and-a-half ounces of protein and three cups of dairy.
You may be wondering if you can ever give your cravings. The answer is YES. We are only human. Since Valentine’s Day is this month, you can have some chocolate. In fact, a serving of dark chocolate has been shown to lower rates of heart disease.  We are talking about moderation. 

GINA’S CHEESY MOSTACCIOLI (Old Pampered Chef Recipe):
Ingredients:
1(16 ounces) package mostaccioli pasta, uncooked
1⁄2lbs ground beef
1(28 ounces) jar spaghetti sauce
1(11 ounces) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
1teaspoon ground black pepper
1 -1 1⁄2teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
3cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:
•    Prepare the pasta according to the package directions; rinse and drain.
•    In a non-stick skillet, cook and stir the beef over medium-high heat until meat is browned; drain.
•    Add in spaghetti sauce, soup, pepper, and Italian seasoning; stir to combine.
•    In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, sauce, and 2 cups cheese.
•    Transfer mixture to a greased 4-quart baking dish.
•    Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese over the top.
•    Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until heated through.
•    Note OAMC instructions--To freeze: Complete recipe through step 6. Seal with foil or place in a zip top bag. Freeze.
•    To serve: Thaw in fridge overnight. Bake as directed.


HEALTHY VERSION:  BAKED PASTA
Ingredients:
1 16 ounces package of penne or mostaccioli pasta, uncooked
1 1⁄2lbs ground turkey
1 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup light cream
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella
1 clove of garlic chopped
5-6 fresh basil leaves chopped
15-20 fresh oregano leaves chopped
1 teaspoon of black pepper 
A pinch of sea salt
 
Instructions:
•    Cook pasta, rinse and drain.
•    In a non-stick skillet, cook and stir the turkey over medium heat until meat is brown, then drain.
•    Add fresh herbs and garlic to ground turkey; sauté for one minute, then (drain first) add tomatoes. Cook one to two minutes.
•    Add white wine, heavy cream, two cups of the mozzarella cheese and one cup of cheddar cheese (hold one cup of mozzarella back for top of casserole).  Cook one to two minutes.
•    Add pasta, then toss all ingredients together.
•    Transfer mixture into baking dish and remaining cup of cheese on top.
•    Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes or until heated through. 

APRIL’S FAMOUS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (Found on Pinterest)
Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups butter---softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup regular sugar 
1 pkg vanilla INSTANT pudding (six serving size)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
3 cups (about one bag) chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped nuts
 
Directions:
•    Preheat oven to 375
•    Mix flour with baking soda
•    Combine butter, both sugars, pudding mix and vanilla in a large mixer bowl.  Beat until creamy and smooth and then beat in the eggs.
•    Gradually add flour mixture.
•    Stir in chips and nuts (batter will be stiff).
•    Drop teaspoons onto baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
•    Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.  
 
**Watch closely.  My oven only takes 7-8 minutes.  Take out when they start to turn a little brown on top.  

HEALTHY VERSION:  APRIL’S FAMOUS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Ingredients:
2 cups Kodiak flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1-egg
2 tbsp Greek yogurt
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla 
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup nuts
 
Directions:
•    Preheat oven 350 F.
•    In a large bowl, mix Kodiak flour, baking soda and salt. Add egg, yogurt, honey, coconut oil and vanilla; stir until combined.
•    Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
•    Scoop out cookies with a small spoon onto a sheet pan 2 inches apart.
•    Bake 6 to 7 minutes or until cookies are golden brown.

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