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Whole Grain Shells and Cheese Recipe and $100 Amazon Giveaway


When I was a child, my number-one requested dinner was shells and cheese. I loved the day-glo yellow cheeselike product that smothered the tuna and peas my mother mixed in, her attempt to add some nutritional value. I found the little shell pasta perfectly shaped to hold pools of sauce, and could eat three servings in one sitting. Unfortunately, as an adult, no matter how fondly I remember this popular kids’ meal, the reality just doesn’t measure up. I don’t know if the formula has changed or if my tastes have grown more sophisticated, but the same processed meal no longer satisfies and actually makes me feel a little sick. So of course I’ve been on a quest to create a healthy homemade version of this childhood favorite. I’ve learned that a simple butter roux makes a great base for a homemade cheese sauce. But I’ve spent quite some time searching for the perfect whole grain pasta shells. Imagine my excitement when I was offered an opportunity to review Barilla® Whole Grain pasta and opened my package to find a box of whole grain shells shining out at me like a beacon from the depths of packing paper and cardboard.

I was a little nervous that this pasta would disappoint like so many others we’ve tried in the past. Several years ago, my mom bought several brands of whole grain or whole wheat pasta and gave them to me because my father and brother wouldn’t eat them. I tried each one once and experienced a variety of disappointments from slimy to gummy to just plain unpleasant. But Barilla has a taste guarantee for their whole grain pasta. If you don’t love it, they’ll give you a free box of your favorite Barilla pasta. I decided that if they were that confident in their product, I was willing to give it a try. I dished up the pasta and sat down at the table with nervous anticipation, wondering whether I’d finally found a healthier pasta that actually tastes good.

Everyone dug into their bowls and made muffled sounds of satisfaction through mouthfuls of cheesy pasta. I explained to our exchange students that macaroni and cheese was a very popular children’s meal in America and that shells and cheese was always my favorite version. One student dropped his fork into his empty bowl and announced “I think it is very delicious!” Once everyone was done, I turned to my husband and asked, “Honey, what did you think of the pasta?” Surprised, he answered “It was good of course! What’s not to like about macaroni and cheese?” “No I mean the actual pasta itself, the shells.” “They were great. Why?” I smiled and pulled out the box to show him.

Barilla Whole Grain is 51% whole wheat, and all natural. While I still hope to one day switch to entirely whole wheat for everything we eat, we’re just not there yet. But Barilla Whole Grain is a huge step in the right direction. It has three times the fiber of regular pasta — and if you’re like me and trying to figure out a way to start incorporating whole grains into your family’s diet, there’s no easier way. I think we all look for ways to feed healthier foods to our families, and if you’d like to try moving toward whole grains, check out the various whole grain pasta types Barilla has to offer. You can also visit TryBarillaWholeGrain.com to get more recipe ideas using their whole grain pastas.

A couple quick notes on the recipe. It made ten servings for us but we also tend to have smaller portion sizes than the average American. I did all the nutrition calculation based on seven servings. It can all be lower if you make it ten servings like we do. If 1/10th of the recipe isn’t enough for you, add a simple green salad. You can also lower the fat content by using low-fat cheeses. We LOVE cheese and cut out fat in other areas so we can indulge in the good stuff.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Whole Grain Shells and Cheese Recipe

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 8 oz medium whole wheat pasta shells
  • 3 TBS salted butter
  • 3 TBS flour (any kind)
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I like sharp cheddar and gruyere)
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 (5 oz) can tuna, drained
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas, cooked
  • to taste salt (I use about 1/2 tsp kosher salt)


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Melt butter in a pot on medium high. Stir flour into the butter until it makes a kind of paste (this is called roux), then stir in milk.
  3. Add cheese to the milk and stir until melted. The sauce should be thickening by now so add the pepper.
  4. Drain your pasta and stir it into the sauce along with the tuna and cooked peas. Serve sprinkled with additional sauce to taste.


Approximate cost/serving: This cost us about $4 to make. We stretched it to 10 servings but I’ll stick with the seven servings I used to calculate the nutritional information. It’s still just 57 cents a serving. CHEAP!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 354Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 438mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 19g

Nutrition information is an estimate only.

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209 thoughts on “Whole Grain Shells and Cheese Recipe and $100 Amazon Giveaway”

  1. I haven’t tried Barilla whole grain but it’s definitely now on my list to check out at the store! Love that it has 3x the amount of fiber – that’s great!

  2. I have always loved Mac & cheese. We’ve been making it with regular macaroni noodles & 2%-milk Velveeta. Shells and cheese are even better, since the shells hold more sauce! My kids love it mixed with tuna too, although for the 5 of us it takes 2 cans of tuna these days. Would love to try some of the Barilla shells – I’m always looking for healthier ways to make favorite foods.

  3. I love that it is so much simpler then making my own whole grain pasta…there are some nights where we just don’t have time and I love having a healthy alternative to homemade 🙂

  4. I love that the pasta is healthy and actually taste good, unlike other whole grain pastas that taste like grains of sand are mixed in with the flour.

  5. I actually cooked with Barilla Whole Grain last night as an experiment! My kids (OK, husband too) are very picky and and I was wondering if they would notice a difference in the taste. I am so happy to report that nobody noticed the difference in taste, and my family devoured it! Not only that, but I was full all evening, and it curbed my desire to snack after dinner. I will definitely be buying this product again!

  6. I’m looking forward to trying the Barilla whole grain pasta. I like the slightly nutty flavor of whole wheat pasta. Looking forward to also trying your recipe out.

  7. I never knew that Barilla had whole grain! Barilla is my favorite brand of pasta. I’m so excited that they have a pasta now that is whole grain but still tastes good. I’m adding Barilla whole grain to my weekly dinners!

  8. Thanks Diana for the review on this pasta! Good to know that your hubby and boys liked it as my family has a harder time when I throw in whole grains.

  9. My kids love the Barilla whole-grain rotini (they call it “twirly-whirly pasta”) and I serve it with a vegan “cheese” sauce made out of potatoes, red pepper, carrots, onions, cashews, and yummy spices (I got it from a vegan website). We’re not vegan just trying to cut out dairy to cut back on congestion and it really helps. I also throw in some small-diced ham.

  10. I really like the taste. I was surprised the first time I tried it and never expected to like it so much. Even my family enjoys it.
    Thanks so much.

  11. I love the taste of Barilla whole grain pasta! And that fact that it works well in any pasta recipe!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  12. I like that it tastes good, and is healthier for me. I eat a lot of pasta, and I’m glad that there is a good alternative to regular pasta.

  13. I love Barilla pasta. I like my pasta firm, not mushy, and barilla fills the bill.
    I have made tuna mac for years, and tried many variations. the cheese sauce sounds like a great addition.

  14. 51% whole wheat. 3x the fiber of regular pasta. Find out why Barilla Whole Grain is a delicious smart food choice and the kids will eat it!

  15. I love the taste- really doesn’t taste much different from regular pasta but the extra fiber is beneficial in your diet.

  16. I love the fact that it is whole grain…though my husband doesn’t like whole grain pasta, so I usually use it for lunches I make just for me.

    wolverina401 at gmail dot com

  17. I love the flavor – it is subtle but strong enough that you can eat it with very little sauce. It is so much more healthy for my family – the kids love it

  18. Love all the fiber and also love that it can be used to make such economical dishes!

    wolverina401 at gmail dot com

  19. I have to admit that I prefer white pasta, but we’ve made the switch and I love that Barilla is a really great source of fiber for our family’s diet….especially for my sons who eat a lot of the wrong foods when left to their own devices.

  20. I love Barilla’s Whole Grain Pasta because it provides more fiber, it is nutritious and delicious. I have been buying the Barilla’s regular pasta for many years and switched to this whole grain once I tried and love it’s texture.


  21. I love that Barilla Whole Grain is all natural and is a great source of fiber. Thanks for the chance to win!
    gina.m.maddox (AT) gmail (DOT) com

  22. I love that its a very well known name brand offering whole grains to the masses. I am a huge proponent of eating whole foods, especially whole grains and have noticed that lots of people have a negative opinion of “health foods.” With the Barilla name comes a guarantee that its going to taste great and hopefully that will get more people to try it and see that eating healthy tastes great!

  23. I like the fact it’s one healthy alternative of regular pasta that my kids will actually eat.
    Thanks for the giveaway!
    eswright18 at gmail dot com

  24. I love the taste of the whole grain in Barilla’s Whole Grain pastas. I also like the added health benefits.


  25. I have never tried it. I like Barilla pasta so I am going to give Barilla whole grain pasta a try next time I make mac and cheese.

  26. Thanks for the giveaway…Barilla Whole Grain Shells are easy to prepare, and a good source of dietary fiber.

    senorpiero [at] yahoo [dot] com

  27. I love that it tastes great and is healthier for my family compared to traditional pasta noodles.
    lisalmg25 at gmail dot com

  28. I haven’t tried the Barilla whole grain pasta, but I think it’s better for you, so I will try it soon. Thanks for the contest!

  29. I love finding whole grain pastas. I love pasta and the healthier it comes is better for all of us. I have not tried Barilla whole grain but, I will be.

  30. I love that Barilla pasta is good, and good for you too! No more cardboard tasting whole grain noodles! Taste buds rejoice!


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