Healthy Baked Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni

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For our Instagram followers, this post has been a week in the making since we announced the recipe would be posted on the blog. But, we’re delighted to welcome the new year with a healthy spinach and ricotta cannelloni dish the entire family can enjoy WITHOUT feeling guilty. Whilst the Christmas season is beyond us for another year, this is a simple dish that can be served year round requiring little preparation and time. We’ll skip the usual introduction and get right into it – give it a go, it’s delicious!

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Baked Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni Recipe
Ingredients

For the Filling:
– 1kg low-fat ricotta cheese
– 1 cup grated low-fat parmesan cheese
– 3/4 cup frozen spinach, defrosted
– 1 egg
– 1 clove garlic
– Salt and pepper

For the Sauce:– 1 onion
– 1 clove garlic
– 1 bottle of tomato napoli sauce
– 1 tablespoon tomato paste
– Salt and pepper
– 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

*1 and 1/2 cups low-fat grated parmesan cheese for topping, along with 2 x 200g boxes of San Remo cannelloni shells

Method
1 –
Finely slice garlic and onion, add to frying pan along with a tablespoon of sunflower oil
2 – Once golden, add tomato sauce and tomato paste, seasoning to your liking with salt and pepper (allow at minimum 30 minutes to achieve a rich, flavorful sauce – add water as required to avoid burning and over-thickening)
3 Create filling by combining ricotta, parmesan, spinach, finely chopped garlic, one egg and salt and pepper
4 – Begin filling cannelloni shells with mixture, a piping bag is recommended if you wish to minimise mess and time wastage
5 – Place an even serve of your sauce mixture along the base of the tray to rest the cannelloni on and ensure they don’t stick to the tray
6 – Place cannelloni beside each other within the tray, sprinkle 1 and 1/2 cups of grated parmesan over cannelloni before placing in a 190 Degree Celsius fan-forced oven for approximately 30-35 minutes until cheese is golden brown

cannelloni

Benefits
Ricotta – Made from curdled vinegar and whey (the content discarded during cheese making), ricotta offers a quality source of protein, five grams per quarter cup serving. Along with 130 milligrams of calcium per quarter cup alongside zinc, selenium vitamin b12 and riboflavin. Ricotta, in comparison to cottage cheese has notably less sodium, five times in fact! Want a tasty, low fat alternative to fattening cheesy Italian dishes? Try low-fat ricotta, the ‘dieter’s cheese’, with just 2.5 grams of fat per quarter cup serving.

Spinach – Firstly, for those of you that utterly DESPISE the taste of spinach, don’t leave just yet… you can barely taste it! Spinach offers a host of benefits, it’s a great source of iron and is loaded with minerals and vitamins. It contains beta-carotene, a disease-fighting antioxidant helping to prevent the development of cataracts; amongst fighting heart disease and cancer. Spinach also boasts a number of phytochemicals, which help prevent macular degeneration (loss of vision in adults). Nutrients and benefits in spinach are best absorbed if pressed into juice form, however, lightly cooking is just as beneficial. The human body cannot break down raw spinach to absorb as much nutrients as it can if it is lightly cooked – ensure you don’t overcook it and render it nutritionally worthless.

There are a number of different methods in which you can cook cannelloni. They can be stuffed with mince meat and rich napoli sauce if your tastebuds desire; or a delicious, hearty pesto, pine nut and ricotta mixture. Lasagne sheets are a simple alternative to store bought cannelloni shells if you can’t find them at your local supermarket. We hope you enjoy the recipe and we look forward to bringing you all plenty more interesting recipes and articles on the Lifespan Fitness blog over the course of 2014 and beyond.

To your fitness success – bon appetit!

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