Italian Style Beef with Polenta

If you are just starting out trying to eat healthy like we are the task can be pretty daunting. That’s why I am so glad I have several resources to pull from that make looking at all the nutrition stats so much easier. I have found a lot of great recipes from, who is a fellow blogger and a registered dietician. On a larger scale I’ve also found great recipes from Cooking Light and Eating Well magazines (their websites as well). This recipe is from Cooking Light and it was really hearty and delicious. The “Italian Style Beef” is spaghetti sauce but it is delicious spaghetti sauce! 🙂 We served ours over polenta as the recipe called for but you could easily substitute a whole wheat pasta or pasta of your choice. I like polenta, my husband still isn’t sold on it so it’s up to you how you would like to serve it. If you are unsure what polenta is, it is very similar to grits only the meal is ground finer and sometimes different varieties of corn are used. We used instant polenta for the recipe below, which shaved about 15 minutes off the cooking time. With the addition of mushrooms this recipe just squeaks in under 500 calories and that’s ok by me.


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15-30 minutes, depending on polenta.

Italian Style Beef with Polenta (adapted from this recipe)

1 cup dry coarse-ground polenta (I used instant)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Dash of kosher salt

2 cups water

1 cup 2% reduced-fat milk

3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Cooking spray

1 pound ground sirloin

1 cup chopped onion

8 oz sliced mushrooms

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1/2 cup rough chopped fresh basil


1. Place first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan. Gradually add 2 cups water and milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium, and cook 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/3 cup cheese. OR if using instant polenta bring water to a boil and prepare according to package directions after your sauce in step 2 is made. The instant will take 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat with cooking spray. Add beef; sauté 5 minutes. Stir to crumble. Remove beef; drain. Wipe pan; coat with cooking spray. Add onion, mushrooms, pepper, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and garlic; sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beef, crushed tomatoes, Mrs. Dash, garlic powder and Italian seasoning; simmer 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chop basil roughly and stir into sauce right before serving. Reserve some basil for garnish, if desired.

3. Divide polenta evenly among 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with 1 cup beef mixture; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cheese and reserved basil.


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