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February 14, 2013

During Heart Health Month, Try a Lighter Italian Broccoli and Cheese Pasta

February Hearth MonthThe Delicious Dietitian’s Haley Lacey suggests this lighter Italian Broccoli and Cheese Pasta that features whole grains and veggies to show your heart some love this month.

As we are in the middle of American Heart Month, take the time to evaluate your heart health. With a few heart healthy changes, you can prevent heart disease and live a healthier life.

The American Heart Association encourages “The Simple 7” habits that can keep your ticker ticking.

  • Get Active: Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
  • Control Cholesterol: Know your numbers!  If you haven’t had your cholesterol checked recently, call and make an appointment.
  • Eat Better: Fruits and veggies, lean meats, low fat dairy, and whole grains are the basics for a healthy diet.
  • Manage Blood Pressure: Keep sodium intake in check.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: If you are overweight, a 10% weight loss (20 lbs for someone who weighs 200 lbs) can have numerous health benefits.
  • Control Blood Sugar: Heart disease and diabetes go hand in hand, if you have diabetes, keep blood sugar in a healthy range.
  • Stop Smoking: If you are a smoker, QUIT!  There are wonderful resources available to help you quit, and the health benefits are innumerable.

This yummy pasta dish is a twist on two tried and true family favorites: mac and cheese AND broccoli with cheese sauce—for a fraction of the calories, and with heart healthy ingredients: whole grains, vegetables, and chicken.

The roasted garlic adds a creamy texture and fabulous flavor. Roasted garlic is less pungent than raw garlic; if you’ve never tried it, give it a shot. 

Italian Broccoli and Cheese Pasta

8 oz. whole wheat penne pasta, cooked
1½ Tbsp. olive oil
2 heads roasted garlic*
1½ Tbsp. flour
1 cup no sodium added chicken broth
3/4 cup shredded 2% white cheddar cheese
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets and steamed until crisp-tender
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and cut into bite-size pieces
1 Tbsp. The Delicious Dietitian Italian Spice Blend

Instructions

Add olive oil to a large saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in the roasted garlic paste and cook 30-60 seconds. Whisk the flour into the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to turn golden brown, 1-2 minutes. Stir the broth into the pan.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cheddar and stir until melted. Add Italian Spice Blend, and stir until mixed into sauce.

Mix in the broccoli florets and chicken pieces, and cook just until heated through. Mix in the cooked pasta until evenly coated with the sauce. Serve warm.

*To make roasted garlic paste, peel the outer papery skins off two heads of garlic, leaving the heads intact.  Slice about a quarter off the top of each head so that all of the cloves are partly exposed. Wrap the garlic in foil and bake at 350˚ F for one hour. Remove from the oven and let cool.  Once cool enough to touch, squeeze the garlic cloves out of the peels and smash with a fork to make roasted garlic paste.

More healthy eating advice and delicious recipes can be found on The Delicious Dietitian blog.

 



About the Author

Haley Lacey
Haley Lacey
Haley Lacey, MS, RD, of The Delicious Dietitian, believes in promoting health through Real Nutrition using Real Food for Real Life. The Delicious Dietitian, Inc. was founded to educate people and help clients and patients eat healthy, enjoyable meals created by food experts. Its registered dietitians strive to help patients eat right and learn how food affects every aspect of life.