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Immunity Boosting Meal

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Your best defense against colds and flu is plenty of rest and a healthy diet.  Certain foods, like tomatoes, spinach, and other nutrient rich vegetables and fruit help to defend your body against the bacteria and virus' that cause colds and flu. Also, don't forget to visit your Meijer Pharmacy to get your seasonal flu shot for only $24.99 – and you'll receive a 2012 Meijer wellness calendar packed with tips to prevent colds and flu, tasty recipes and over $55.00 in valuable coupons. 

Here's a hearty recipe that makes two meals, one to enjoy tonight and one to freeze for later!  As a bonus, this recipe uses ingredients that help your body to fight against seasonal colds and flu.

Vegetable Stuffed Shells:

Makes: 2 Meals (4 servings each meal - $8.40 per meal for family of four)

Ingredients:

24 Jumbo Pasta Shells (about 1 12oz. box)

1 1/4 Cups (1 can) Reduced sodium Vegetable Broth (or Chicken Stock)

1/2 Cup Carrot, finely chopped

1 Sweet onion, finely diced

1 10oz. bag Fresh baby Spinach Leaves (washed and drained)

2 1/2 cups Part-skim Ricotta Cheese

1 cup Meijer Shredded Italian-blend Cheese (or Mozzarella)

1 egg

1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1 1/2 tsp. McCormick Italian Blend Seasoning

3 Cups Marinara Pasta Sauce (about 1 28oz. Jar)

1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Directions: 

1.     Pre-heat oven to 350oF. Cook pasta according to package directions (for best results, undercook pasta by 1 minute). Rinse, drain, let cool.

2.     Bring broth to a slow boil in a large saucepan; add carrots and onion and cook 3-4 minutes until crisp-tender. Add spinach and cook until just wilted (about 1 minute). Drain vegetables well.

3.     Mix vegetables with ricotta, mozzarella (or Italian-blend) cheese, egg, 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, and Italian blend seasoning. Fill each cooked shell with the cheese mixture.

4.     Spread 1/2 cup pasta sauce into each of 2 casserole dishes (13 x 9 x 2). Place 1/2 of the filled shells into each casserole dish.

5.     Top with the reaming sauce and sprinkle each casserole with remaining grated parmesan cheese.

6.     Cover one pan tightly with plastic wrap, and then with a layer of aluminum foil. Using a permanent marker, label the foil with the recipe name and date. Place in freezer and use within 3 months (thaw overnight in the refrigerator or microwave thaw just before cooking, and then cook following directions below).  Cover the second pan with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for an addition 10-15 minutes, until hot and bubbling.

Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories 428, Fat 16g, Cholesterol 84 mg, Sodium 727 mg, Carbohydrate 43g, Fiber 4g, Protein 28g. 

Serve with Dole bag salad topped with your favorite light salad dressing.