Food Buzz


Monday, November 8, 2010

Healthy comfort food does exist!

You may have noticed a trend in my posts recently... Lots of comfort food!  My guess is it's the time of year... I mean we all reach for comfort food in the fall and winter when the weather gets a little cooler and you feel like snuggling under a blanket instead of going out.   I figured if I am going to keep this up through the winter, my comfort food needs to be healthy... lower in fat and sugar and higher in fiber and vegetables!  I think I found my first truly healthy lasagna!

Cooking Light (online and magazine) has been a favorite of mine for years.  I especially love the magazine this time of year as they help us lighten up holiday dishes! They don't push "diet" foods, just healthier options.  They also profile exercise in addition to nutrition.  CL helps us to become less round and more well rounded. :)  I knew I could find some great comfort foods on the website.

My friend came over for dinner last night and we decided because of the cool night to make lasagna!  How can lasagna be healthy, you ask?  You do this by cutting out the whole milk cheeses, béchamel and high fat ground beef and including skim cheeses and making it a vegetarian dish, using butternut squash to bulk it up!  At only 254 calories, 8.5 grams of fat and 18.6 grams of protein per serving (if you follow the cooking light version of the recipe), you still get the lasagna taste without the lasagna hips.

I made some changes (shown in my version of the recipe below), such as roasting the squash instead of microwaving it, but kept it as close to the original as I could.

Butternut Squash Lasagna 
(original from

Yield:  2 lasagnas, 6 servings per 8x8 pan

Cooking spray
2 cups chopped onion
10 cups fresh spinach
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese (not pre-shredded)
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
2 (15-ounce) cartons part-skim ricotta cheese
3 cups diced peeled butternut squash
6 cups marinara sauce (I used CL's
smoky marinara sauce)
12 oven-ready lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°.
2. Place cubed butternut squash on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes (check with a fork to see if it is tender).  Remove from the oven when done, season with salt and pepper and using a potato masher, mash until smooth.  Set aside.
3. Heat a large Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 1 1/2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Combine mozzarella, parsley, salt, pepper, eggs, and ricotta cheese in a large bowl.
4. Coat the bottom and sides of 2 (8-inch-square) baking dishes with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup Smoky Marinara in the bottom of one prepared dish. Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups squash over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over squash.
5. Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup cheese mixture over the noodles. Arrange 1 1/2 cups onion mixture over cheese mixture; spread 3/4 cup sauce over spinach mixture.
6. Arrange 2 noodles over sauce; spread 1 cup Smoky Marinara evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan. Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients in remaining pan. Cover each pan with foil.
7. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes.
To freeze unbaked lasagna: Prepare through Step 6. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.
To prepare frozen unbaked lasagna: Thaw completely in refrigerator (about 24 hours). Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover lasagna with reserved foil; bake at 375º for 1 hour. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until bubbly.

This lasagna is not your Italian grandmother's gooey, cheesy, meaty lasagna, but the flavors and textures are still there, and you can have a second serving (or dessert!) and not feel bad about it!

Do you wish you had a "lighter" version of a not so healthy family recipe?  Feel free to post here and I'll do my best to help make it a little healthier.

Chow for now!  :)

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