Chicken and Broccoli Stuffed Shells

“Where saving dollars makes cents’” is the motto of Tijuana, the brain behind po’ man meals. Her Chicken and Broccoli Stuffed Shells are just another great example of a thrifty yet delicious meal. Tijuana states that her love of cooking developed once she learned to appreciate her mother’s financially conscious home cooked meals. Being a mother of four, herself, Tijuana finds (and shares) ways to save on cost but deliver on flavour. And deliver she does!Pasta seems to be one of those comfort foods, making it great for family, romance or even self-indulgence. It is traditionally an Italian cuisine, first referenced in Sicily in 1154. Made simply of flour and water or eggs, home-made pasta isn’t the easiest food to prepare. Tijuana smartly suggests a box of pre-made dried pasta (pasta secca), specifically jumbo shells.

For people who are always on-the-go, this dish is quick and easy to prepare, requiring only 30 minutes (or less) of prep time and 20 minutes of cook time and utilizes many foods we often have at home. It is also flexible enough to allow for substitutions. Although this dish wouldn’t be quite the same without the stuffed pasta shells, they can be substituted for any other type of pasta in a pinch. Simply adjust cooking time based on type of pasta used. If you happen to be cooking for a child who’s difficult to please when it comes to veggies, the sauce and cheese should mask the broccoli (but you can substitute for many other types of vegetables, including peas or corn).Tossing flour into the middle of a hot, food-pilled pan may sound strange, but in conjunction with the milk and fat from the cooked chicken, it will create a sauce, much like a Béchamel sauce, which is one of the “mother sauces” in many cuisines, including French and Italian. The flour essentially thickens the milk and the mixture takes on the wonderful flavours of the onions and garlic.

Broccoli is on the list of superfoods known for packing a nutritional punch when eaten. When you add broccoli to any meal you are not only adding to your daily requirement of fruits and vegetables, but your getting some essential vitamins that you need to feel good. Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber. Broccoli also contains several nutrients with strong anti cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and small amounts of selenium. A single serving of broccoli provides more than 30 mg of vitamin C and a half cup provides 52 mg of vitamin C. Just remember that boiling broccoli reduces the levels of suspected anti carcinogenic compounds, such as sulforaphane, with losses of 20–30 percent after five minutes, 40–50 percent after ten minutes, and 77 percent after thirty minutes. So you'll want to consider other cooking methods so you don't loose too much of the nutritional value of this healthy vegetable. Other preparation methods such as steaming, microwaving, and stir frying had no significant effect on the compounds in the vegetable.

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