Need Help!
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Blane has made me drool over the Molto Manicotti recipe with his FB post! William's heart attack was a wake up call, but his numbers for cholesterol are good. But I don't want to contribute to the problem. That being said, I think his biggest problem is portion control. He always went back for seconds! And stress has been high lately. We are working on both!

All that said, I would LOVE to make this, but I would feel better if I could lighten it up. I figure on reducing the protein to 6 oz. chicken to 2 oz. Italian sausage? Maybe use hot sausage to ramp up the flavor? 2 % milk for sure. Reduced fat ricotta is a given. But what about the gruyere? And is there such a thing as reduced fat fresh mozzarella? Would that be enough?

Suggestions please. Here's the recipe.

Molto Manicotti
If fontina is not available Gruyere, Gouda, or Provolone will work.
For the Filling:
4 ounces chicken breast diced
4 ounces Italian sausage bulk
1 1/4 cups button mushrooms sliced
1 1/4 cups shiitake mushrooms stemmed, sliced
3/4 cup red bell pepper seeded, julienned
1 tablespoon garlic minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fontina cheese grated
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
1/3 cup scallions sliced
1 egg
For the Béchamel;
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk whole or 2%
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper nutmeg, and cayenne
For the Pasta:
12 lasagna noodles
4 ounces mozzarella cheese fresh, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425°; coat a large casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Saute chicken and sausage for the filling in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When brown, add mushrooms, bell pepper, garlic, and dried herbs; cook until vegetables are soft, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat; cool briefly.

Blend cheeses, scallions, and egg together in a large bowl. Fold in chicken mixture until combined.

Melt butter for the béchamel in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute.

Whisk in milk gradually, then increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens; remove from heat and add seasonings. Coat bottom of prepared baking dish with 1 cup béchamel.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 4 minutes, or until pliable; drain and rinse. Fill and roll manicotti as shown below, then top with remaining béchamel and the mozzarella. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbly. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Keep your mind wide open.
  Re: Need Help! by Gourmet_Mom (Blane has made me dr...)
Reducing the fat, I could see, but reducing the protein, no.

As for the cheeses, instead of "reduced fat," they may say "part skim," thus referring to the milk used to make them, rather than to the finished product. Nowadays (and talking about the States, not Honduras, which has its own problems), it actually seems more difficult to find WHOLE-milk Mozzarella, since so many of them are part skim. When I was in the States in November, I did see part-skim Gruyère and Gouda and I know that the Bel Gioioso Fontina is also part skim. Any of those SHOULD have less fat than their whole-milk versions, but you should still check their labels for your specific situation.

Also, hate to say it, but maybe you could leave out the béchamel. After all, lasagne recipes (for example) are often a choice of the Ricotta and Mozzarella (Italian-American) OR béchamel (European) - usually not both at the same time (although there are exceptions, of course). Unfortunately, that would certainly be a big change to your recipe, but that IS one of the things you could consider, given your objective.

"Fat-free" cheese substitutes or "vegan/vegetarian" "cheeses" probably would NOT be a good choice, since they are usually pretty vile (if they have any flavour at all) and they rarely melt (at least not the way you would want for this kind of dish).

Good luck!
If blueberry muffins have blueberries in them, what do vegan muffins have?
  Re: Re: Need Help! by labradors (Reducing the fat, I ...)
The sauce and cheese, I also think will be your biggest challenges. I will add at the bottom my new recipe (I don't think I've posted it for a spicy turkey sausage that is much more healthy).

A couple of ideas for you -

1. Portion control is a buggaboo, that's for sure. With Manicotti or Lasagane, they really do taste better the next day, how about chilling it after baking. Cut into portion sizes and freeze all but what you want to serve at each meal. Out of sight out of mind. With William's preference for 2nds (as Roy loves) you might cut his portion in 2/3 & 1/3 pieces and he can have the 1/3 piece for 2nds. You will have to play a few games. And don't forget to bring out the smaller plates - makes less look like more.

2. Do the kids eat with you and William? That will be a problem because your son will eat as a young man will and he will have to see that - good luck! It would be much easier if it were just the two of you at meals. But, don't know how you could handle that.....

3. the total amount of cheese for the dish is 14 oz. – which, if you stick to the ‘unrealistic’ serving count of 12 is only a little over 1 oz. per serving. Good luck with those serving numbers!

4. You might up the mushroom amount and omit the chicken all together and use the flavor of the sausage to take care of the meat.

5. I would stick to the low-fat, as Labs mentioned – the fat-free versions really are pretty vile.

Chef’s Journey’s Spicy Hot Italian Turkey Sausage

First made 7/26/12 – so very good and spicy

4 1/4 lb ground turkey
3/4 lb bacon (play with this amount – maybe start with 6 oz., just make sure it is very lean bacon)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Heaping tablespoon fennel seed
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
Heaping teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs cold water
Casings, medium hog or not (I prefer bulk sausage)

1. Combine the turkey, bacon, and remaining ingredients except water in a large bowl. Grind through a 3/8-inch plate. Moisten with the water and mix until well blended.

2. If using casings, stuff and tie at 5-inch intervals.

3. If leaving for bulk sausage, divide into amounts that work for your family.

Source: Adapted from Hot Links and Country Flavors, Bruce Aidells and S. Kelly.

Author Notes
This is spicy hot and doesn't taste like other bland turkey sausage I've made.

Good Luck Daphne. The hardest part of this whole thing is William's attitude and his willingness to stick to guidelines. You can only do so much and nagging won't help -
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.
  Re: Re: Need Help! by cjs (The sauce and cheese...)
Thanks, Jean! This is awesome! Just what I was needing! I love the turkey sausage idea and the portion control and freezing ideas are pure GENIUS!
Keep your mind wide open.
  Re: Re: Need Help! by Gourmet_Mom (Thanks, Jean! This ...)
You're welcome - it's not easy or fun, but we do what we gotta do.
Retired and having fun writing cookbooks, tasting wine and sharing recipes with all my friends.
  Re: Re: Need Help! by cjs (You're welcome - it'...)
Daphne, did William's doc give you any dietary guidelines? They don't seem to be doing that as much these days for some reason, so I'm curious.

"Drink your tea slowly and reverently..."
  Re: Re: Need Help! by Mare749 (Daphne, did William'...)
Yes, he did. We were visited by a consultant before we checked out. He was awesome. While he gave some great advice, he also pointed out that splurges were acceptable.....just in moderation. I have a thick packet of dos and don'ts and he will be going to cardio physical therapy three times a week starting January 13th which will include nutritional counseling. We are very excited about his new cardiologist as well. In addition, Jean has recommended some books to help me retrain my brain for cooking healthier recipes and modifying some of our favorites.
Keep your mind wide open.

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