Thursday, May 26, 2011

Healthy Eats: Fettucini Alfredo with Spinach & Mushroom

At dinner the other night, my precocious little brother Louis asked me, "Why does it take adults so long to order?" I thought about that for a moment. When I was his age, the three main meals I accepted without a fuss were mac&cheese, spaghetti with meatballs and chicken tenders. I was not adventurous with my palette, nor did I find any reason to listen to my parents when they told me that I would like something new. I told him that as you get older, your tastes expand and so more items on the menu seem appealing. For example, I am currently addicted to mushrooms of any sort, so I took several minutes debating over my usual pick of pasta (carbonara, bolognese, amatriciana) or grilled veggies. (I ended up with the latter... summer is approaching!)

There is still the little kid in me that craves those rich, fattening meals I adored as a skinny-minnie string bean. (No, really. My family nickname was "Noodle".) Unfortunately, I can't scarf down high-calorie pasta the way I used to. Last night Quinn requested Fettuccini Alfredo for dinner, and I set out to make a lighter version -- while still retaining that abundantly creamy flavor.

Fettucini Alfredo w/ Mushrooms & Spinach
(I told you I was on a mushroom kick!)
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1.5 cup skim milk
  • 1 8 oz package non or low fat cream cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 lb fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb package Fettuccine
  • salt & pepper to taste   
Serving size: 1 cup (cooked) 
Calories: 358 
Carbs: 47 
Fat: 11 
Protein: 18

Hint: If you want even less fat in this, add 1/2 cup Parmesan. That's where most of the calories hide. You also have the option of using whole wheat pasta, but I have grown tired of its rubbery bite. Regular pasta for me this time.

Drizzle pan with olive oil, add mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, saute mushrooms until tender. Add spinach and garlic, cook until spinach is wilted. Stir in the milk and cream cheese. Here's where you can play around with the dish. The recipe I found called for only 1 cup of skim milk, but the sauce was WAY too thick with that paltry amount. I added a half cup more, maybe even a whole cup to get that velvety texture of Alfredo sauce.

Bring cream cheese/milk mixture to a boil until the cream cheese is melted. Add the Parmesan and stir until you've got the right consistency. Toss fettuccine with sauce over low heat for 2-3 minutes and then serve!

The result was glorious. It tasted almost exactly like any Fettuccine Alfredo you would order in a restaurant (600-700 calories a cup), but with absolutely NO butter or cream. Amazing.


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