Most of the Italian-American classics I grew up with, lasagna, manicotti, stuffed shells, are off-limits to me now because of the fat in the cheese used, not to mention the high salt content of most cheese as well. I also can only eat whole wheat pasta now to get away from simple carbs that could impact my pre-diabetic sugar levels.
I have found whole wheat pastas I enjoy and I have begun finding low-fat and even no-fat Italian cheese. The cheeses still contains high salt levels, though, so I use them sparingly and as a treat.
One recent treat I made was whole wheat mostaccioli baked with low-fat ricotta cheese covered with my low-salt homemade tomato sauce (we call it gravy in my family).
A 13.5 ounce container of low-fat Kroger store brand ricotta has 385 mgs of salt and 17.5 grams of fat. I combine that with 13 ounces of a whole wheat pasta and it made two-plus meals for my wife and I, so at least four servings. So the salt from cheese in a fourth of it is less than 100 mgs. My gravy has 120 mgs or salt in half a cup, or four ounces. So I’m keeping the salt low in this dish. The 17.5 grams of fat divided by four becomes about 4,4 grams per serving, also low. The pasta is sodium free and has about 2 grams of fat per serving.
I consider this dish a splurge but enjoy it immensely as a special occasion treat or a pick-me-up when I’m feeling tired or sick.