Whether you were busy watching the kids all day, working all day, or a bit of both, finding the time to make a tasty and healthy dinner can often feel overwhelming. But before you reach for the phone to call for takeout, consider this easy-to-make recipe that’s low calorie, packed full of lean proteins and whole grains, and way more affordable than takeout.
- cooking spray
- 2 cups whole grain pasta dry
- 1 lb chicken breast thin sliced
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup whole grain bread crumbs
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese
Coat the bottom of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Add in the dry pasta, water, and ½ of the tomato sauce.
Place chicken breasts on top of pasta. Next, sprinkle bread crumbs over top of chicken. Pour on remaining tomato sauce and top with garlic, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese.
Place the top on the slow cooker and set the cook setting to high. Allow to cook for 4 hours, then serve warm with your favorite vegetables on the side.
This whole recipe takes about 5 minutes to assemble and then cooks itself- it doesn’t get much easier than that! And it takes great as well!
Note: You can also choose to add the noodles and ½ tomato sauce during the last 30-40 minutes of the recipe cooking. The above recipe allows for faster assembly and “set-it-and-forget-it cooking,” but if you prefer your noodles a bit more al dente or will be home while this meal is cooking, try waiting to add them instead.
Although Joey has, for the most part, been really good about trying new foods, lately he seems to prefer some textures to others. For instance, he loves carrots and broccoli pureed or baked into foods, but if you hand him a slice of the vegetable, he will pick it up, feel it for a while, then drop it on the floor while giving me a look like “what are you trying to feed me here?!” So for some of the more “unique” textured foods that he doesn’t seem to want to self-feed anymore, I figured mixing them in with foods he loves may help.
Currently, Joey would much rather feed himself than allow anyone to spoon-feed him. Because of this, his food choices are rather limited at times. He isn’t yet able to feed himself from a spoon, so choices like purees, yogurt, and cooked grains like oatmeal are out. He does a great job picking up foods, but anything sticky, slimmy, or mushy seems to end up on his body rather than in his mouth.
He loves soft bread, mostly because of its texture, and how easy it is for him to pick it up and feed it to himself. However, as a dietitian, I get concerned that he may want to fill up on bread, and only bread, and miss out on vital nutrients such as antioxidants and protein. So what better solution than a muffin that’s packed full of protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and even vegetables? And a muffin that both Joey and my husband love?! It’s a win-win!
I love Daisy Brand cottage cheese (full disclosure- I am also a member of the Daisy brand Health Network) and Joey loves it too. But again, it’s one of those foods he has to be spoon-fed, so some days he will eat a full bowl, and other days he refuses because he can’t feed it to himself. Daisy, however, has this great recipe for Cheesy Cottage Cheese and Flax Muffins with Chives.
With just a few tiny adjustments, it makes the perfect finger food for Joey and gives him a great source of protein, whole grains, and veggies J He even loves to help make them!