How to curb that lasagna craving
My inner Garfield has a strong monthly craving for lasagna that I can rarely deny. Instead of trying to fight my desire for that beautifully layered carb-fest, I decided to make some slight changes to the traditional veggie lasagna that would satisfy Garfield and my waist line and also be kind to my arteries. And that’s how I came up with Zucchini Noodle Lasagna.
Ditch the pasta
To make a zucchini noodle lasagna, I started by ditching the pasta. Instead, I made zucchini noodles. Standard lasagna noodles are made with refined wheat flour, which has been stripped of all fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Zucchini, however, is high in fiber, water, vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium. As you can see, zucchini offers an abundance of nutrients to support your health. The water and fiber in this versatile summer squash help you manage your weight by providing low-calorie volume. All the vitamins and minerals in zucchini also boost your immune system. And they are great for your heart, lungs, skin, and eyes. Plus it’s really fun making the “noodles” with a vegetable peeler.
Upgrade your cheese
I used whole fat ricotta and mozzarella instead of skim. Weird, right?! Low fat and non fat dairy items often have a lot of sugar added to them and most of their nutrients and vitamins taken out. You actually need the fat from dairy in order to absorb the calcium from it. Some saturated fats have gotten an unfair bad rap for too long. Studies show that incorporating whole fat dairy into your diet can reduce the risk of diabetes, some cancer, and actually help you lose weight! And, of course, let’s not forget to consider that cheese is an aphrodisiac.
In defense of tofu
I added tofu. Don’t run for the hills yet! Studies show that regularly eating tofu provides an excellent amount of energy, calcium, protein, total fat, carbohydrates, and fiber. In it’s natural state it’s fairly bland, so it’s a great addition to meals because it will take on the flavor of the other ingredients in a dish. And don’t forget, tofu is on our list of the 10 Best Foods for Women.
The aphrodisiac of garlic
I added garlic. This little bulb is also a powerhouse of immune-boosting nutrients including manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, and is a good source of thiamin or vitamin B1, phosphorus, selenium, calcium, potassium, iron and copper. Garlic also contains high levels of allicin, which increases blood flow which is excellent for your libido. Learn more about the aphrodisiac powers of garlic.
This recipe shows you how to make a craving-worthy lasagna without the noodles. This virtual carb-free version replaces pasta with zucchini.
- 1 can whole peeled plum tomatoes with juice, 28-ounce
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp plus 1/4 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 3 large zucchini ends trimmed
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 12 oz firm tofu drained and pressed
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/2 cup whole ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup whole shredded mozzarella
- coarse salt and pepper
To make the sauce, pulse tomatoes with their juice in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large straight-sided skillet over medium. Cook onion and red pepper flakes, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add minced garlic and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Coarsely crumble tofu and stir into sauce with chopped oregano and basil; season with salt. Let cool.
To make the lasagna: Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice zucchini lengthwise into thin strips using vegetable peeler. Place 5 or 6 zucchini slices, overlapping slightly, in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 1 cup sauce. Dot evenly with 1/4 cup ricotta and sprinkle with mozzarella. Repeat twice with zucchini, remaining sauce, and 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining zucchini; brush with 1/4 teaspoon olive oil. Dot with remaining ricotta and evenly sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella and season with pepper. Bake, uncovered, until lasagna bubbles and top browns, 50 to 60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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