Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.
Delicious and Healthy Alfredo
Fettuccine Alfredo is one of my favorite meals. It's rich, cheesy, and creamy. We can never get enough of this amazing dish at our house.
Even though I like it just as it is (just noodles and Alfredo sauce) and could eat this every night of the week, my husband is determined that every single meal should be served with some kind of meat. So, I like cooking up some chicken coated in spices and a little Parmesan cheese to offer a juicy, crunchy, protein-filled topping to this already delicious meal.
Pasta is definitely a staple around our house because it's so cheap, easy to find, easy to use, and fills us up with less food. To make it healthier for your family, though, try using whole wheat pasta or even one of the varieties made with veggies. Our favorite is the spinach pasta. We have made the switch at our house, and we feel the difference.
Granted, your family might balk at the slightly different color of whole wheat or veggie pasta, though they sell it "hidden" under the guise of the normal pasta color. However, the flavor of whole wheat pasta, along with the amazing health benefits it will provide, is well worth the step out of your comfort zone into new foods. I promise your family will get used to it.
Benefits of Whole Wheat
Whole wheat is a very good source of dietary fiber and manganese, as well as a good source of magnesium. Eating refined grains, the kind not so good for you, like white breads, cookies, white pastas, and rice, are now being linked not only to weight gain but also to increased risk of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. On the other hand, eating more whole grain foods, like whole wheat, is being shown to protect against these problems.
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Serves about 5 adults
- 8 ounces your chosen whole wheat pasta
- 2 fresh or frozen chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1/4 cup real butter
- 1 cup organic whole milk
- 1 cup half and half
- 3 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- We like to bulk cook our chicken ahead of time in my large crock pot, shred it, and bag it up in single portions to store in the freezer for quick meals later. If you need to cook them, however, you can do so by cooking them on the stove over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, flipping them in the middle of cooking. Then just season them at the end.
- You could also cook them in the oven, seasoned, at 400 degrees F for an hour, or in your Instant Pot, seasoned, for 10 minutes on Manual. Chicken is so incredibly easy to cook that there are so many ways to do so. You just have to figure out what works best for you. I highly suggest the stove method.
- In the meantime, fill a medium pot with water and bring it to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn the temperature down just a bit and dump in your fettuccine pasta noodles or whatever noodles you choose to use. You will want to stir them really well when you first put them in so they don't stick together, and every so often to be sure they are cooking thoroughly.
- Cook until done. I like to check them after about 10 minutes by cutting one with a fork and trying to eat it. You'll know the consistency you like.
- In another medium-sized pot, get your cream cheese melting over medium-low heat.
- Then add your butter and continue melting until you can easily stir the two together.
- Now add in your milk and half and half. Whisk together until smooth and creamy, removing any lumps.
- Now add in your garlic powder and, finally, your grated Parmesan. Whisk together and let thicken, stirring frequently to keep it from burning.
- Once your chicken breasts are done, slice each breast into small slices.
- Assemble your plates, pasta first, then sauce, and finally chicken on top for the best presentation. Or just dump it all together like us because you don't care and you're not trying to impress anyone.
- Serve with garlic bread and salad or veggie, and voila!
We have a real problem in this house . . . we really love Alfredo sauce! I always make more sauce than we need for our noodles because it tends to go by the spoonful. I have to say that I am guilty of the same thing. It's just so amazing! The butter and cream cheese, in the beginning, have really ramped up my old recipe from 30 years ago that I got from my mom. She used to simply dump a whole bottle of Kraft-grated Parmesan into a pot filled with a pint of warm half and half.
It was good, I'll tell you, but boy, did it give me a stomachache later on. Now I use a lot less Parmesan cheese and half and half, but with all of those other yummy ingredients, I end up with lots more sauce, a much better product, and no stomachache that night. I only used 8 ounces of pasta for this meal because it was plenty for dinner for all of us for a couple of nights and even some leftovers for lunch. Of course, we serve it with a side or two and plenty of garlic bread. Yum!
Next to my Chicken and Dumplings, this is my all-time favorite dish out of all of the possibilities. But I still mix it up at times. Sometimes I toss green peas into the mix for a nice surprising flavor with every bite or sun-dried tomatoes for an interesting twist. But I really love mincing some fresh spinach and mixing it in. I could put spinach in just about every meal I ate, really, and be happy.
This is a great opportunity for you to take an amazing classic recipe that's great all on its own and make it yours. (We used penne noodles tonight because that's what my 4-year-old said he wanted.) Don't be scared to get creative! Just jump on in with both feet. Let me know how it turns out for you! Enjoy!
© 2013 Victoria Van Ness