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Tuna Noodle Casserole

Comfort Food Upgrade

This time of year it is dark and dreary outside, so naturally we all crave comfort food. Here’s an upgrade to an old favorite: Tuna Noodle Casserole.



“Stop having a boring life” yes I just quoted the slap chop guy. Here is a jazzed up version of an old faithful that substitutes fat and calories with plenty of veg, and spice to a somewhat boring recipe. Rather than serve straight up noodles, cheese, and tuna; this recipe is smart with light cheddar cheese, whole wheat noodles, and low fat mushroom soup.

When my friends and I are studying together, and they stay for dinner, they are always impressed at the sheer speed that I can whip up a good looking meal. The thing is though it isn’t as difficult as it looks folks; it all comes down to having certain basics on hand. 

I always make sure I have plenty of frozen veggies, and/or whole wheat noodles and brown rice, so throwing together a nutritious meal really takes no time at all. My good friend is often blown away when she’s working away on an assignment in my living room and all of the sudden dinner is ready. “Where did this come from? How do you just whip up a casserole?” You’d have to hear her say it to really get the dramatic effect. Having these staples on hand makes it much easier to stay on track because rather than ordering in greasy take-out while studying, I at the very least can always make a pretty decent stir-fry and/or casserole.


Like I said this meal can be thrown together in no time, so it makes a great weeknight meal. It also could be frozen into smaller portions to be taken for lunches during the work week. So it’s easy to prepare and it’s quite reasonable on the nutritious scale? Yep! The whole wheat pasta is high in fiber (you should be eating 25 grams a day you know), the tuna provides omega 3’s, so it’s good for your brain AND shrinking your belly. Ideally you should be eating 7-10 servings of fruit and veg everyday, so the added veggies here helps increase fiber while providing a vibrant pop of color as well.

I’m really trying to stay on track this holiday season, it’s so easy to let ourselves block out the damage we’ve done until we’ve eaten an entire pan of apple crisp not once but twice. Only to wake up in the new year with an even bigger hangover on our skinny jeans. I’ve vowed to myself that if I’m going to eat something it’s going to count. So that being said, I am allowing exceptions in moderation, but what I eat day-to-day should meet the following criteria,
  • High protein
  • High fiber
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Low sodium/sugar
  • Low fat (Saturated and Trans fats should not add up to more than 3g)

I’m also trying to eat more foods with omega 3’s, I’ve read that it helps with brain health, heart health AND reduces anxiety. I don’t know about you, but with all the coffee I drink I could use a bit of help cleaning out the old noggin. Also please note that in the ingredient list that I mention “light tuna”. While I was teaching Child Studies I did some research about mercury, and it turns out the “white tuna” is substantially higher in mercury levels, so always always go for the “light” tuna okay!
Okay enough talk about nutrition already! You want a recipe!! 

Ingredients: 
1 box of whole wheat pasta (I like the twirly ones) 
1 tsp of olive oil
1-2 cans (depends on how hungry you are) of (LIGHT) tuna in water drained
1 bag of frozen mixed veggies (anything really will do)
1-2 cans of low sodium/low fat mushroom soup
1/2 cup to 1 cup of shredded partly skim cheese (cheddar preferably) 
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Optional Additions 
1/4 cup of salsa OR 1-2 tablespoons of Franks Red Hot Sauce. 
I’ve also added spinach at times, and it worked out really well.  
Spicy Pepper Medley or Cilantro (to taste)  


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350

 
Bring a large pot of water to a roaring boil: add whole wheat noodles, cook just before el dente and strain.
 
Add the pasta back to the pot and add a small amount of olive oil to pasta and toss. 
 
Add your drained tuna to the pasta making sure to break it up into smaller chunks.
 
Mix in one can of low-fat /reduced sodium mushroom soup to your pasta and the salsa or Franks Red Hot sauce (optional). I don’t bother to combine ingredients over heat because it will cook in the oven, and the heat from your noodles does well enough to help everything mix.
 
Add about 1/4 cup of the cheese to mixture
 
Add veggies of your choice. I like a lot so I just dump the whole bag in, but this recipe is very versatile so you can literally throw anything in. 
 
***If your sauce isn’t coating your entire mixture, or maybe you like a creamier pasta dish this is where you can add the other can of mushroom soup! I always keep an extra one on hand because sometimes I go crazy with the veggies, and I have no where near enough sauce to coat my pasta. 

Pour your mixture into a casserole dish spreading the mixture out to all corners and sides of the pan.

Top with the rest of the cheese or just enough to cover the top of the casserole. You can add some spices to the top of the casserole if you like, I like to add a little bit of Club House Spicy Pepper Medley or even some cilantro (but be warned the main ingredient in the Club House spice is salt, so a little goes a long way). 

Cover your casserole with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes and remove the foil for the remaining 3-5 minutes. Sometimes I will broil the top just for a minute or so, it helps brown the cheese just slightly. 


And you’re done!!

Healthy Cooking Tips: 
**Serve this dish with a side salad full of fresh vegetables. It doesn‘t need to be fancy, even a simply spinach salad with mushrooms, and red onions would do.Try to eat the salad first, it’ll help you to not overeat the casserole! Trust me it’s dangerously good.
**If you have trouble snacking while you are cooking chew a piece of gum! You’ll be less likely to munch on crackers or chocolate chips while you cook. I would never do something like that haha ;)

Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy eating quite a bit, so I‘m really just trying to find a better way to do it. Food should never be regarded as either Christ or the Anti-Christ; I believe food should be kept functional, but still very enjoyable.
๐Ÿ™‚
sincerely,
Short Presents



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3 Comments

  • Reply Dara December 13, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    mmmm I am going to try this! ….without the meat of course hehe <3 (tuna….I consider fish meat) I loveee reading your blogs!!! <3

  • Reply short presents December 13, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Oh thanks Dara!! I have some veggie dishes. I'll put them up soon ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply styleonthecouch December 14, 2010 at 8:09 am

    Looks yummy! Definitely food for this weather/time of year…

    http://www.styleonthecouch.wordpress.com
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