Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Love and Veggie Lasagna

It has been a busy few weeks for me! I went on a little mini vacay to Miami for a weekend, had to catch up on school work quickly, had 2 exams and some assignments, then Valentines Day weekend. It has just been a while since I've really been home to cook anything exciting, other than the usual grilled or baked chicken/fish with salad and veggies. And I must say, I really missed it!

I love thinking of ways to cram as many veggies in as possible. I know veggie lasagna is  not an original by any means, but I added my own little pizazz. 
It's a good way to eat something comforting, nutritious and filling. Especially with this awful weather we have been having, something warm and cheesy is perfect. 

Before I get into how to make this yumminess, I want to talk about balance and portion control. 

I just got home from my Pediatric Nutrition class. 
Today, we were talking about weight management in children and it led us to begin to talk about how to teach children to have healthy behaviors and attitudes with food.

As babies, we are born with the ability to self-regulate our intake. What that means is, we know when we want to stop eating when we are full. However, at some point, many of us lose that ability to self-regulate because of various things. 

We all grow up in different environments that influence our relationship with food in one way or another. Remember being told you had to finish your plate before you could leave the table as a child? That's one of the things I'm talking about.

One example my professor gave was of a dietitian she knew who wouldn't allow her kids to have any "junk" food when they grew up. She wouldn't have any of that kind of food at home, but she said that to this day, when her son is exposed to junk food, he has a hard time controlling himself and limiting the intake. It is the idea of wanting what you can't have. It is a similar thinking with dieting. When you label foods as bad, or foods that you can't have, it becomes something that is "forbidden" and it becomes hard to control when you do eat it.

This is why I am so adamant about eating foods that you want and enjoy. By allowing yourself these foods and enjoying them, you can teach yourself how to self-regulate again. 

I never thought I would be the person who could have junk in my house and not eat it all, but now I am. I eat it when I want it and just a little of it usually fulfills my craving. It's not always the healthiest but sometimes I just NEED something a little sweet or salty. So it's nice to have those things around so I don't feel deprived. And it makes you crave it less when you can eat it whenever you want.

I don't eat this stuff everyday and if I do, I have it in small portions.
Enjoy it, love it, balance it and regulate it.

Now, onto this tasty VEGGIE FILLED lasagna!

This recipe takes a little while so be ready to spend some time in the kitchen. 

As you can see, I used a few mix of veggies. I have broccoli, mushrooms, a yellow pepper and a mix of greens which contain kale, swiss chard and spinach.

There is some zucchini underneath the broccoli. I used that as a substitute for some of the lasagna sheets. 

My lasagna was made with half pasta and half zucchini. 
Cut the zucchini in thin strips as such.

Before you start cooking the veggies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and start boiling some water for the lasagna. Add in lasagna-sheets when ready. Take it out of the water while it is still al-dente (or a little hard). I only used 6 lasagna sheets. 

Drizzle the zucchini very little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. You can throw it in the oven while it is preheating for about 15-20 minutes. 

Then start making the sauce. I have a jar of fresh tomato sauce which was given to me as a gift from one of the guys I work with. His Italian family makes plain tomato sauce once a year (no seasoning or anything, just tomatoes) and preserves it to use year long. I bugged him for months to bring me a jar and he did...and then I waited months before actually using it. 

Not all of have Italian coworkers with fresh sauce to give us, so you can use any sauce you like. If you use one from the store, look for kinds that have less ingredients listed and with the least added salt. 

If you want to make a sauce, you can used a canned version of whole or crushed tomatoes. If you have onions, sauté some finely chopped onions first on medium heat and then add garlic.

If you're like me and are just using fresh garlic, heat some olive oil in a sauce pan on LOW heat. Add the garlic and stir. It can burn quickly so be careful. Once the garlic (and/or onions) is cooked, add the tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, and any seasonings you like. I added a little basil and garlic mix I have and some thyme. Turn the heat onto medium and let the sauce reduce. Taste it often to balance the flavors. If it tastes a little acidic, add a little sugar. It will balance that out.

Then take the veggies (whichever you want, or the ones I used) and sauté them until cooked. 

When everything is ready, layer the lasagna as such...

A little sauce on the bottom of the pan. 
Lasagna sheets (3)
Zucchini Strips
Lasagna sheet (3)
Remaining Veggies, Sauce and Cheese.

Put this in the oven for 20 minutes covered with tin foil.
After that, take the foil off and bake for another 10-15 minutes. 

There you have it! I was able to cut it into 12 pieces and Steve and I both had 2 pieces.
We enjoyed this with a small salad on the side. 

I topped mine with a little extra grated parmesan because I just love cheese.

As always, hope you enjoy!

Lots of LOVE,


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