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Recipe Re-Do: Healthy Lasagna

Fitday Editor
healthy lasagna.jpg

Lasagna can be a nutritious, well-balanced meal; however, many traditional recipes are loaded with unhealthy quantities of saturated fat, sodium and refined sugar. On the other hand, many "healthy" lasagna recipes are strictly vegetarian or have an ingredient list longer than your grocery list which can be overwhelming to a busy household. Transforming your family's lasagna recipe into a healthy entrée everyone will enjoy does not have to be complicated.

Below is a basic lasagna recipe converted to a healthy recipe by making a few substitutions and adding fresh vegetables.

Ingredient List
Original Lasagna Recipe
Yields 8 Servings
2 cups ricotta cheese (part skim)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1-1/4 eggs
11 ounces ground beef
6 cups (48 ounces) tomato sauce
8 cooked lasagna noodles
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

FitDay recipe
Yields 8 servings
2 cups fat free cottage cheese
2 cups reduced fat mozzarella cheese
i egg white
11 ounces lean ground turkey
6 cups (48 ounces) no salt added tomato.pasta sauce
8 cooked whole grain lasagna noodles
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup zucchini (sliced)

Nutritional Information* (serving size = 1/8th of dish)
Original Lasagna Recipe
Calories 491
Protein 27 g
Fat 28 g
Saturated Fat 12 g
Sugar 10 g
Cholesterol 110 mg
Sodium 1131 mg
Fiber 3 g
g = grams; mg = milligrams

FitDay recipe
Calories 358
Protein 38g
Fat 12g
Saturated fat 7g
Sugar 10g
Cholesterol 72 mg
Sodium 622 mg
Fiber 4.5g
*Nutritional info is only an estimate.

#1: Mix cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese and eggs white in a medium bowl.
#2: Cook turkey in saucepan until browned. Pour off fat. Stir in tomato/pasta sauce.
#3: Spread 1 cup turkey mixture in each of 2 2-quart shallow baking dishes. Top each with 2 lasagna noodles, spinach and zucchini and 1 cup cottage cheese mixture. Repeat layers. Top each with 2 lasagna noodles, remaining turkey mixture and Parmesan cheese.
#4: Bake at 400° F for 30 minutes or until hot. Let stand 10 minutes.

The above recipe alterations eliminated approximately 133 calories, 16 grams fat and 509 mg sodium. By using cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese, 11 grams of protein were added. Be aware that this substitution will make the lasagna runnier due to the increased moisture from cottage cheese versus ricotta cheese. The switch from regular lasagna noodles to whole grain noodles contributes additional fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The vegetable additions are truly endless when it comes to lasagna and will contribute an array of beneficial nutrients. Onions, green peppers, squash, egg plant and carrots are all options. In addition to just adding them as individual layers (as in the above recipe), try sautéing the veggies together in a small amount of olive oil and then adding as a layer. The most dramatic change between the two recipes is the use of "no salt added" sauce which cut the sodium amount by nearly 50%. Eating a diet low in sodium has been proven to reduce blood pressure in individuals with hypertension. Be bold and break away from your traditional lasagna recipe. Focus on adding the nutrients your family needs while eliminating the nutrients less than ideal for our bodies!

Laura N. Kenny is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Dietitian in the state of Indiana. She received both her Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and completed her dietetic internship at Purdue University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Science degree from Central Michigan University. Laura works for the Indiana Obesity Center PC under the supervision of Dr. Keith McEwen. She specializes in both surgical and non-surgical weight loss including nutritional adherence, meal planning, and macro/micro nutrient status. Kenny also promotes healthy eating through various speaking engagements throughout Indianapolis and teaches indoor cycling and Pilates classes in her free time. Since staring her dietetics career, she has worked with a variety of populations and chronic diseases. Each summer Laura volunteers at Camp John Warvel, a camp for children with diabetes. She also enjoys writing, sports, exercise, and reading "hot topics" in nutrition. Laura has a true passion for guiding people to choose healthy nutritional choices for each and every individual lifestyle. To contact Laura, email her at [email protected].

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