Dec 062011

Remember the kind of assignments you’d be given college?  Write a 20-page research paper, give a 5 minute powerpoint presentation, read 150 pages of this textbook (by next week).  Well, my grad school assignments are a little different than that.  For this one, I had to take a favorite family recipe and modify it for a therapeutic diet of my choice.  Since heart disease is very close to my family at this time, I chose the “TLC diet” for heart health, and I modified my mom’s famous (and not so diet friendly) lasagna.  

This assignment reminded me that we can really get creative to make our favorite foods healthier.  In this recipe, I substituted lean ground turkey for pork Italian sausage, I used all low-fat cheeses, whole wheat noodles, added veggies, and even mixed in some pureed white beans with the ricotta (and you’d never even know it).  We even had to do a nutrition analysis, and check out the comparison here:  

Nutritional Highlights:  As you can see above, the original version is a little frightening–75% of your daily saturated fat, more than half of your daily sodium, and almost 50% of your daily cholesterol in just one serving.   By swapping turkey for sausage, cutting out half the cheese, using all low-fat versions, choosing no salt added tomato products, using whole wheat noodles, and adding pureed white beans and roasted veggies, I was able to create a version with a third of the fat and sodium, 200 less calories, more than double the fiber.  Hooray for fighting heart disease!  It was SO delicious (although the cook in me wanted to add more salt) and I will absolutely use these substitutions from now on.

I “Heart” this Lasagna!
 HEAVILY modified from a Better Homes and Gardens recipe 

·      1 lb lean ground turkey breast

·      2 clove garlic, minced

·      2 Tbsp whole basil

·      1/4 tsp salt

·      ½ tsp red pepper flakes

·      28 oz can Italian style tomatoes, no salt added

·      2 – 6 oz cans tomato paste, no salt added

·      ½ cup water

·      10 oz whole wheat lasagna noodles

·      1 egg, 1 egg white

·      8 oz fresh Ricotta, part-skim

·      1 cup white beans (no salt added), rinsed, drained, and pureed

·      1/3 cups grated Parmesan cheese

·      2 Tbsp parsley flakes

·      ½ teaspoon dried oregano

·      1/4 tsp salt

·      1/2 tsp pepper

·      8 oz part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 bag)

·      3 cups of cooked vegetables of your choice, steamed or roasted: I used zucchini, yellow squash, and mushrooms (other ideas include red pepper, eggplant, broccoli, or spinach)


·      Spray pan with nonstick spray and brown meat slowly.  Add next 5 ingredients and 1/2 cup water.  Simmer, covered, 15 minutes; stirring often.  Cook noodles in boiling water until tender; drain; rinse.  Mash or puree the white beans.  Beat eggs; add the white beans and remaining ingredients, except mozzarella.  Put some sauce in first, then layer half the noodles in 13x9x2 in baking dish; spread with half the Ricotta filling; add half the mozzarella cheese, all of the mixed vegetables and half the meat sauce.  Layer the rest of the noodles, the spread with the remaining ricotta, sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella, and cover with the rest of the meat sauce.  Bake at 375 about 30 minutes (or assemble early and refrigerate; bake 45 minutes).  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 8-10.

  3 Responses to “I "Heart" Lasagna!”

  1. Looks AMAZING!!!

  2. Ok girlie, first let me say your food photos are great! And then let me add that I think it is amazing that you are learning how to cook such delicious, healthy meals at your age. When I was fresh out of college I lived on Wendy’s salads, not the best choice but not the worst either. I found your blog after searching for ways to make ‘crispy” tofu. Funny. I am definitely going to try your method. Everything looks scrumptious.

  3. Added to next week’s menu! :) I can’t wait to try this! Your recipes never disappoint.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>