Thursday, August 4, 2011

One to Please the Family

Who can resist the delicious blend of tomato sauce, pasta, and cheese?  The answer...almost no one!  Unfortunately, what often comes with this mix is a bunch of salt, fat, and extra calories.  However, there IS a way to mix these wonderful flavors and be able to face your personal trainer (or yourself) with confidence the next day.

I pulled out an old cookbook my mom gave me and found her recipe for lasagna.  Apparently, she has been making the low fat version her whole life!  The only component I changed was the sauce, using a more tomato and vegetable based sauce rather than meat.  If you want to add ground meat, go for it!  But give the veggies a try as well.

For the cheese filling, you will mix the following:
-1/2 cup non-fat yogurt (I used Greek for extra creaminess)
-small container of low or no fat ricotta or cottage cheese
-low fat Italian shredded cheese (I used a mix of 1/2 cup parmesan and 3/4 bag of mozzarella)
-1 egg white
-Italian spices (basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, pepper, garlic)

For the sauce, I mixed the following and simmered over medium heat for 30 min:
-2 small cans of tomato sauce, no salt added
-2 cans diced tomatoes, no salt added, 1/2 liquid drained
-2 chopped mushrooms
-1/8 chopped onion
-1/2 sliced zucchini
-pepper, Italian spices

Cook lasagna noodles as directed.  Coat your dish with non-stick spray.  Cover the bottom of the dish with sauce.

Next, put a layer of noodles, then spread some of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles.

Continue layering with noodles, sauce, cheese, etc. until the dish is full.  Make sauce your last layer.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Cover and bake at 350 for about an hour or until bubbling (if you make it beforehand and refrigerate it, it will need more than an hour).  Uncover and bake for 15-20 more minutes, or until it reaches your desired crispiness.  If you want to keep your oven clean, put a pan on the rack underneath to catch any drips.

Homemade Lasagna! Yum!

You can use this same recipe to make stuffed Jumbo shells too.  Just cook the shell pasta, stuff them with the cheese, put them in a dish with the sauce and bake.  

Now, if you are looking at that sauce and thinking, "there is NO WAY my kids/husband are going to eat a big mushroom or a chunk of zucchini."  Well, maybe you're right.  So my solution is to get sneaky.  Put your favorite veggies in a blender first, then add them to the sauce.  Or blend everything together.  And if they are extra picky, add your veggie paste to their favorite store bought brand of sauce (just check the ingredients for high fructose corn syrup or trans fats!).  You may find they like vegetables after all!

*UPDATE* As he ate leftover lasagna, Mr. PT continued to comment on how light this particular dish was, considering how lasagna is often quite heavy and overly-salty.  So if this is your style of Italian, go for it, but realize it will not taste exactly like something you get at Olive Garden.

Combine with 55 minutes of a mix of Pilates and stretching.  Or go on a 2-3 mile run/brisk walk. 

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