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  • Writer's pictureRhonda Morrison

Indulge in hearty Italian dishes for a healthier lifestyle

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Lavish Shrimp Pizza recipe, Broccoli and Mushroom Stuffed Shells recipe, and an Easy Marinara recipe are included with nutritional information.

Nicole Volek is one of my dear friends and my running buddy. We run together every Tuesday morning. On our runs, we discuss different ways to eat healthier, improve energy levels, and get the most nutrition out of the foods we eat and serve our families. While we both have our favorite occasional indulgences, Nicole remains an empowering influence towards healthy eating.

Volek is the president of This website is a great resource for healthy activities in our area. I have modified and written recipes for this site located in the recipe archive. I even include the nutritional counts. I draw my inspiration for modifying recipes from my favorite indulgences.

One favorite indulgence of mine is Italian cooking. There are many healthy ways to cook and savor Italian dishes. It is also easy to overindulge in pasta and bread when eating these meals. Finding ways to limit these high carbohydrate energy crushers is a fun challenge in creativity for me. The challenge I took on for this post is pizza and baked pasta with scrumptious results.

This pizza can be served at brunch, as an appetizer, or for dinner. This is one light recipe that tastes absolutely lavish.

Pizza is a family favorite at the Morrison house. And my teenagers can put it away. Using a flatbread approach and piling on the flavor ensures that everyone is satisfied while having an everyday appropriate meal. This pizza recipe starts with spinach lavash bread. I use a store-bought pesto to dress the crust. You can make a homemade pesto but it is used so sparingly that the shortcut is worth it. Precooked shrimp tossed in olive oil with oregano, sliced garlic, red pepper flakes, and sundried tomatoes bring a punch of flavor to top the pesto. Finish it off with crumbled goat cheese and pop it in the oven. This pizza can be served at brunch, as an appetizer, or for dinner. This is one light recipe that tastes absolutely lavish.

Baked pasta dishes slathered in sauce and cheese is another weakness of mine. I love using pasta shells to bake pasta guilt-free. Stuffed baked pasta shells allow you to have more stuff and less pasta to fill up a team. I fill my shells with mushrooms and broccoli. Not only is this recipe a healthy approach to Italian cooking but it is also a great prep-ahead meal. Make this recipe a day or two in advance and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to pop it in the oven.

Have a guilty pleasure recipe that you want help with modifying? Then go to my website and drop me a line. I am happy to help.

Lavish Shrimp Pizza 6 Lavash spinach flatbread ½ cup pesto 12 oz. goat cheese, crumbled 12 cloves garlic, sliced 6 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, drained and julienned 1 pound cooked 91/110 count shrimp 1 tbsp. olive oil 1 tsp. oregano 1 tsp. red pepper flakes Preheat oven at 375. Mix shrimp, oregano, red pepper flakes, and olive oil in a bowl. Spread 1 to 2 tbsp. pesto on each lavash spinach wrap. Top each lavash wrap with 1/6 of the shrimp, garlic, tomatoes, and goat cheese. Bake in the oven on a sheet pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Cut and serve. Serves 8. Calories 448, Total Fat 27.5g, Sodium 534mg

Broccoli and Mushroom Stuffed Shells 20 jumbo pasta shells 16 oz. chopped frozen broccoli, thawed and drained 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced 8 oz. mozzarella, shredded 4 cloves garlic, sliced or pressed ½ Easy Marinara recipe, approximately 4 cups Make the easy marinara recipe and set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 350. Boil pasta shells to al dente. Drain pasta. Separate the shells and leave out on wax paper. Lightly sauté mushrooms in a skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Combine broccoli, garlic, 1 cup mozzarella, and 1 cup marinara. Coat the bottom of a 13x11 baking dish with 1 cup marinara. Gently spoon the mixture into the cooked shells and place them shell side down in the coated baking dish. Top each shell with the remaining marinara and mozzarella. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serves 6. Calories 344, Total Fat 10.9g, Sodium 589mg

Easy Marinara 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup finely diced onion 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 stalks celery, chopped 2 (28 ounces) cans crushed tomatoes 1 (6 ounces) can tomato paste 2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 teaspoon dried basil 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 tsp. salt 1 tsp. black pepper Heat oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Stir in onion, garlic, and celery and cook until soft. Pour in tomatoes and tomato paste, stir, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in parsley, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper; simmer 15 minutes, uncovered. Serves 12. Calories 90, Total Fat 2.3g, Sodium 368mg

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