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Recipe Makeover: Hot Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

February is heart health month, so it's a great time to think about ways to keep your ticker, well, ticking. Keeping your bad (LDL) cholesterol low and your good (HDL) cholesterol high is important for heart health. One of the easiest ways to get your HDL number up is to exercise and watching what you eat can help lower your LDL. We used to think that cholesterol in foods is what would increase blood cholesterol. More recent research has shown us that it is actually saturated fat in foods that can increase blood cholesterol. So reducing the amount of saturated fat in our diets can help keep LDL in check. 

Whenever I makeover a recipe, I try to find ways to reduce the saturated fat. Some ways I do this is by trying to cook with oil instead of butter, choosing lean cuts of meat (look for "loin" or "round" in the name or go with 90% lean for ground meat), and choosing lower fat dairy products like I've done in this recipe makeover of Hot Chicken Spaghetti Casserole. I also found ways to sneak in some extra veggies since eating more produce is also heart healthy. My recipe not only saves 8.5g saturated fat over the traditional version, but it also saves 220 calories and 314mg sodium. Plus, it has an additional 4g of fiber!

But don't let all this talk about health fool you. The madeover version of this dish is still delicious. It's bursting with spicy flavor, comforting pasta and chicken, and all the ooey-goey cheesiness of a traditional chicken spaghetti casserole. Enjoy!

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Hot Chicken Spaghetti Casserole:

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 can (14.5oz) rotel

1 can (8oz) mushrooms (use liquid)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend (salt free)

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about a pound)

About 9 ounces uncooked 100% whole grain spaghetti

1 cup (1/4 inch thick) chopped celery

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (10.75 oz) can heart healthy (30% reduced sodium, 98% fat free) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1 (10.75 oz) can heart healthy (30% reduced sodium, 98% fat free) condensed cream of celery soup, undiluted

1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Hot sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot), to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic; saute 5 minutes. Add rotel, Worcestershire sauce, seasoning, and salt and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine veggie mixture with the cooked spaghetti, chicken, soups, mushrooms, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and hot sauce (to taste). Spoon into a 9x13-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese melts and casserole is bubbly and heated through. Yield: 8 servings.

Nutrition facts per serving: 280 calories, 7g fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 45mg cholesterol, 476mg sodium, 36g carbs, 7g fiber, 4g sugars, 22g protein.

 

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