Can anything be as mouthwatering as fresh baked lasagna coming out of the oven? This usually calorie- heavy meal is the last thing that you’d think of as fitness food but today’s recipe is about to change all that.
This week, the traditional calorie and fat heavy lasagna gets a Fit Chef makeover and I proudly present Vegetarian Lasagna. This pasta-free recipe is perfect for those cold winter nights and makes an amazingly delicious alternative to traditional comfort food.
The immune system does an amazing job of keeping you healthy – however from time to time a germ invades and causes illness. This rings true all year, but especially around the winter season. While boosting your immune system seems wonderful, its’ tough to do and here’s why…
The immune system is in fact a system, not a single entity and needs balance in order to function properly and increase effectiveness. While current research about the inner workings and intricacies of the immune system are still without definitive evidence that links lifestyle to increase effectiveness, there are still things you can do to make yourself feel better.
Harvard Medical School cites including the following practices to better protect your body, including the immune system to function better.
- Not Smoking
- Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low in saturated fats
- Exercise Regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Control your blood pressure
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
- Get adequate sleep
- Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
- Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.
These recommendations sound almost exactly like living a healthy active fitness lifestyle, don’t they?
Noodle-free Vegetarian Lasagna
Yield: 8 Servings
For Tomato Sauce
1 ea. Small onion, sliced
2 ea. Garlic cloves, minced
1 ea. Roasted red pepper, diced
8 ea. Black pitted olives, chopped
2 ea. 28 oz. cans diced tomatoes
¼ tsp. Black pepper
1 tsp. Oregano
1 Tbs. Basil
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Method of Preparation
1. Bring vegetable mixture and tomatoes to a boil. Add salt, pepper and all other spices.
2. Simmer for about 25 minutes and using an immersion blender, “pulse” the vegetable mixture into a thicker sauce.
1 Tbs. Coconut oil, virgin organic
2 ea. Eggplant, peeled and sliced thin lengthwise
2 medium Sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin lengthwise
2 ea. Zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into slices
2 ea. Leeks, stalk only and sliced thin
10 oz. mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
2 ea. Bell peppers, cut into thin slices
½ cup Ricotta cheese, skim
2 ½ cups Tomato sauce
2 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar, for mushrooms
Garlic powder, to taste – mushrooms
Salt and pepper, to taste – all vegetables
Method of Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Be sure all vegetables are washed and cleaned VERY well. You don’t want grit or dirt to be in your finished product. In a large sauté pan on medium high heat, place ½ Tbs. coconut oil and add sliced zucchini. Season with salt and pepper and cook halfway, so that the zucchini is still firm but pliable.
2. Place eggplant slices on a wire rack and bake for about 15 minutes. This step is so that the moisture can start to evaporate and you’ll avoid a soupy mess. The eggplant takes the place of lasagna noodles for this recipe. Season slightly with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
3. While eggplant are baking, heat the remaining coconut oil to the sauté pan and add bell peppers and leeks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Again, remember to cook the vegetables about half way, so that they still have “bite” to them. Set aside cooked mixture.
4. Lastly, add the sliced mushrooms to the sauté pan and add balsamic vinegar and garlic powder. Cook slightly and set aside.
5. In a 12 x 9 baking dish, spoon 2 cups of tomato sauce into a small dish with about 2 oz. of water. Stir to thin the sauce and add 1/2c up ricotta cheese to the mixture. The color will be slightly pink. Spoon a bit of sauce onto the baking dish.
6. Layer the lasagna in the following order: eggplant, sweet potato, bell pepper and leek mixture, zucchini, mushrooms and sauce. Repeat this procedure until all vegetables have been used.
7. Bake for about 30 minutes, remove from oven and sprinkle 2/3 cup reduced fat mozzarella on top. Place in oven for an additional 10 minutes for cheese to melt. Remove from oven, allow to rest for about 10 minutes and slice into 9 portions.
Nutritional Information – Per Serving
34g Carbohydrates, 9g Fiber; 11g Protein, 7g Fat