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Better than Rachel Ray’s Italian Mac ‘n Cheese

It has been 15 years since I first tried Rachel Ray’s Italian Mac ‘n Cheese. A friend from my mom’s group brought me the dish after I had my third child. It was part of a meal train we put together to help out moms for the first couple of weeks after giving birth. Of the meals I received, this one was by far my favorite. I asked my friend for the recipe and for the past 15 years I have been modifying this recipe. I believe I have perfected the recipe now, because it is always a hit at my home. I am now ready to share with you my Better than Rachel Ray’s Italian Mac ‘n Cheese recipe.

Please feel free to compare my recipe with Rachel Ray’s Italian Mac & Cheese. My recipe is better because it has onions and because it has more sauce. The sauce in my recipe is also more flavorful due to the addition of more tomatoes and seasoning.

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Italian Mac ‘n Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:

1 Pound of Penne pasta

1 Pound bulk Sweet Italian sausage

12 Cremini Mushrooms (1 package), sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 Tablespoons butter

1/2 Cup flour

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can of each: chicken broth, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

8 ounces of whipping cream

8 ounces of Italian Blend shredded cheese

1/2 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Directions:

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain and pour into a pyrex baking dish.

Brown the sausage, drain and set aside. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the onion until slightly softened. Add the mushrooms, garlic and butter. Toss to evenly coat, add salt, and continue to sauté until the mushrooms begin to soften. Stir in the flour until evenly coated. Slowly add the chicken broth, add a little and stir until the sauce thickens, then add more and stir. Repeat this process until the whole can is incorporated. Add the undrained can of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning and pepper. Mix until well combined and return to a simmer. Return the drained sausage to the pan and add half of the shredded Italian blend cheese, mix until melted. Add the whipping cream and mix constantly until the sauce returns to a simmer, then remove from heat.

Pre heat the broiler to high. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix. Top with remaining Italian blend cheese. Place the dish under the broiler for 3-5 min until the cheese in lightly browned. Serve with parmesan cheese.

If you like the recipe, you may also like my Better than Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana.

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Healthy Home Recipes

Pharmacist Shares Immune Boosting Granola Recipe

Customers are flooding into local pharmacies in search of immune boosting supplements. Many of these immune boosting ingredients can easily be included in your diet. It’s much less expensive to eat your vitamins than to purchase supplements. I’m a pharmacist and I would love to share my recipe for Immune Boosting Granola. Granola is a quick and easy breakfast or snack that can easily be added to any daily meal plan. Add some to you favorite yogurt or just pack it for a quick and easy snack.

Disclaimer: The statements made regarding this recipe have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of this recipe has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. This recipe is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Immune Boosting Nutrients

In order to make an immune boosting recipe, one first needs to know which nutrients are known to boost immunity. I have compiled a list of immune boosting vitamins and minerals, because adding more to your diet can help boost your immunity.

Vitamin C- There is research to support Vitamin C supplementation in reducing the length and severity of respiratory infections.1 Vitamin C plays an important role in immune response.

Zinc – Plenty of research is certainly available supporting zinc supplementation in reducing the length and severity of infections.1 Zinc is an important player in immune response.

Vitamin D – There is some evidence that vitamin D could reduce the risk of Influenza and COVID-19 infections and death.2

Vitamin B6- A deficiency in Vitamin B6 reduces your ability to make antibodies to fight off infection. Vitamin B6 could help strengthen immunity.3

Vitamin E- Immune response is enhanced by Vitamin E. It can provide protection against infections.4

Selenium- The immune system relies on adequate dietary selenium.5

Immune Boosting Ingredients

I selected my granola ingredients to include as many immune boosting vitamins and minerals as possible so they can help boost immunity. Here is a list of my ingredients because it is important to understand why they were included in my recipe.

  1. Elderberry syrup (find it here): Elderberry syrup is also used to enhance immunity. Elderberries are high in flavonoids, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. It may also help reduce symptoms of viral infections by stimulating immune response.6
  2. Matcha (find it here): Another natural superfood, matcha is green tea powder. It is made by grinding green tea leaves into a fine powder. Regular consumption of green tea could decrease influenza infection rates and cold symptoms.7
  3. Hemp hearts(find them here), pumpkin seeds and Flax Seeds: I included all of these mostly for the zinc and omega 3 and 6. These polyunsaturated fats also have been extensively studied for their role in immune health.8
  4. Nuts: These serve as a good source of selenium and zinc. I also chose Brazil nuts because they have the highest amount of selenium. Cashews are also high in zinc.
  5. Sunflower seeds: These seeds also have some healthy fats, but I chose them mostly because they are an excellent source of vitamin E. They are also a good source of selenium and vitamin B6.
  6. Ginger: Can also help reduce the severity of respiratory infections.9
  7. Blueberries: Another natural superfood. Blueberries are a good source of Vitamin C. I included them because they are one of the best sources of antioxidants, mostly flavonoids.

Immune Boosting Granola Recipe

Ingredients:

4 Cups Oats

1 Cup mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, and Brazil nuts)

1/4 Cup sunflower seeds

1 Cup shelled pumpkin seeds

1/4 Cup hemp hearts

1 Tablespoon matcha powder

2 Tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

2 Tablespoons flax seed

1/3 Cup dried cranberries

1/2 Cup shredded dry coconut

1/3 Cup dried blueberries

1/2 Cup honey

1/3 Cup Peanut butter

2 Tablespoons Elderberry Syrup

1/3 Cup coconut oil

Directions:

First preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together the oats, nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, matcha, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and flax seed. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl mix the peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, elderberry syrup. Once mixed, pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until evenly coated.

Cover a Jelly Roll Pan with parchment paper. Spread the granola over the paper. Bake for 15 min. Remove from the oven and mix in the dried coconut. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove and mix again. If the coconut is not completely toasted, bake for 2 more minutes or until most of the coconut is toasted but not burnt. Lastly, remove from the oven and stir in the dried fruit while the granola is still warm. Finally, allow the granola to cool to room temperature. Although it is difficult not to finish it all in one sitting, you may have some leftover. If so, you can store in an air tight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Immune Boosting Granola Served with Yogurt

Granola makes a great gift!

References:

  1. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/90495
  2. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/4/988
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28367454/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266234/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30200430/
  6. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1271/bbb.120112
  7. https://www.mdpi.com/1420-3049/23/7/1795
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834330/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7019938/

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