Lasagna doesn’t usually top the “most healthy” lists, but when made right, you can enjoy a pasta packed with protein, vegetables, and calcium-rich cheeses. And since July 24th is National Lasagna Day, I say go ahead and whip up a hearty and healthy meal for your whole family. Award-winning chef Daniel Green, best-selling author of multiple cook books, and the author of the recent, The Paleo Diet: Food Your Body is Designed to Eat, offers easy tips to whip up a lower calorie, lower fat lasagna.
Crafting a healthier lasagna
- If you want to make the biggest difference in terms of lowering fat content, use fat free cheese.
- Try fat-free cream cheese – it still bakes really well.
- You can also use fat-free feta cheese. President Brand makes the best fat-free feta.
- Substitute grilled veggies in place of meat.
- If you have to have meat, use grilled vegetables in addition to low fat meats, such as turkey, to reduce the fat and calorie content. Try 99% fat free turkey mince instead of beef – it’s a leaner option.
- If you’re set on beef, reduce the amount of beef you use by using 1/2 beef and 1/2 turkey. If you insist on using all beef, make sure you choose the lowest fat ground beef you can find.
- Add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste to the tomato sauce to get a richer flavor. This is especially helpful when you’re reducing the fat of the meat and cheeses.
- Switch out regular pasta for gluten-free pasta.
- Use fewer layers of pasta and more layers of low fat protein.
- Limit your serving to four ounces at one time. Fill the rest of your plate with salad, roasted vegetables, or a side of water-based soup.
Try Daniel’s Skinny Eggplant Lasagna
- 1/2 pound cooked lasagna
- 1 pack low-fat mozzarella slicked into tiny cubes
- 1 pack low-fat mozzarella finely diced
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 eggplant cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 2 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons sun dried tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons basil
- 2 teaspoons oregano, dried
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1/8 teaspoons black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take a 9×13-inch baking dish and lightly oil it.
- In a bowl, mix the tomato sauce with the sun dried tomato paste, garlic and basil. Then in another bowl, mix the ricotta with the cubed mozzarella. Set this aside.
- Fry over the eggplant in a pan with olive oil on high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side and set aside when cooked.
- Now start to assemble. Add one layer of lasagna sheets to the base of the pan, covering it completely. Then a layer of tomato mix, followed by a layer of eggplant, then a layer of mozzarella and then a layer of lasagna sheets, then the ricotta mix. Repeat until the pan is filled to the top and the final layer should be the shredded mozzarella.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.
Garden Fresh Lasagna
You can also amp-up the health factor of your favorite lasagna by swapping pasta noodles for vegetable slices. Zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and thick slices of fresh tomato can be used in place of cooked lasagna. Check out Claire Thomas’ heart-healthy recipe for Garden Fresh Lasagna.
Lasagna in Five Minutes
Not everyone has the time to prep and cook a homemade lasagna… and most frozen varieties aren’t worth eating – they’re not particularly healthy, and they taste pretty terrible. The Three Bridges brand is changing prepared foods by offering healthy, delicious, and quick-to-cook meals like their Sausage & Basil Lasagna. This lasagna actually isn’t frozen – you store it in your fridge until you’re ready to cook it, cutting prep time in half. In fact, you can whip it up in the microwave in under five minutes, or in the oven in 25 minutes.
But the best part is that it’s made with real, healthy ingredients in portion-controlled sizes that are satisfying and delicious. For instance, the Three Bridges packaged lasagna makes three servings, each serving weighing in at just 350 calories. And while there are 17 grams of fat per serving, only 7 of them are saturated, and they’re well-balanced with 18 grams protein, two grams fiber, and 30-percent daily value of calcium. The flavor is awesome, and I love the ingredient list is easy to read, including:
- Pasteurized whole milk
- Mozzarella cheese
- Tomato puree
- Italian sausage
- Tomatoes in juice
- Extra fancy durum flour
- Semolina flour
- Parmesan cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Wheat flour
Do you have a favorite lasagna recipe? How do you keep it healthy-ish when you’re whipping it up?