Kathy Manweiler: Catch this tuna casserole: It's a family fave that's easy on the budget

Multi-grain pasta adds fiber and extra protein.
Multi-grain pasta adds fiber and extra protein.
Posted: March 19, 2009

TUNA CASSEROLE certainly isn't a gourmet dish, but it's a homestyle favorite that can save money and put dinner on the table in a hurry.

I took a typical recipe for this casserole and made some healthy changes. Using multi-grain pasta adds fiber and extra protein without altering the taste. Leaving out the cheddar cheese while stirring in reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup and fat-free milk cuts more calories.

Instead of topping things off with crushed potato chips, I make my own fresh breadcrumbs with wheat bread and a little light butter. But if potato chips are a must in your tuna casserole, try crumbling up some baked chips or reduced-fat Pringles.

My alterations to this recipe trimmed the calories by 33 percent and slashed the fat by 77 percent. A serving of my tuna casserole contains 308 calories and 4.1 fat grams.

KATHY'S TUNA CASSEROLE

12 ounces multi-grain penne pasta

1 cup frozen peas

2 (10.75-ounce) cans of

reduced-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup,

undiluted

1/2 cup fat-free milk

12 ounces tuna, packed in water, drained and flaked

3 slices light wheat bread

1 tablespoon light butter

Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook penne according to package directions. Drain and rinse cooked pasta with cool water.

In a large bowl, combine cooked penne, peas, soup, milk and tuna. Transfer mixture into the baking dish. Tear the bread into several pieces and use a mini chopper to process the bread into fine crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs and light butter. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serves 8.

Per serving: 308 calories, 4.1 fat grams, 271 mg sodium, 22 protein grams, 5 fiber grams, 35 carb grams, 23 mg cholesterol.

Adapted from an About.com recipe.

Do you have a favorite food or popular recipe that you'd like to see made healthier? Send your ideas and recipes, along with a daytime phone number, to Kathy Manweiler at kmanweiler@ wichitaeagle.com, or mail to: Don't Say Diet, McClatchy Newspapers, P.O. Box 820, Wichita, KS 67201.

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