Nearly all Nutritionists, health advocates and wellness providers will tell us that we need to eat more fruits and vegetables and move more. These are 2 key components to future health and wellness. It is also shown that the average American rotates the same 5-7 vegetable and 4-5 fruits in their diet. Why limit yourself to the same fruits and vegetables? Have you really looked at the produce section of the grocery store lately? There are hundred of options for you!
Over the last month, I have been working on cutting back the amount of meat that I have been consuming. Actually, animal products in general. No, I’m not becoming a strict vegan or vegetarian, just limiting the amount of animal products I eat.
One of the foods that my family has requested several times over the last year has been lasagna. Hmmm… no cows milk for this girl means no cheese (and how many kinds of cheese are in lasagna? Yeah, not good for this belly!) Yes, I have made it in the last year, but I usually make myself something else for dinner. I have tried the vegan cheeses… yeah not even close. Most either don’t melt well, or they melt and then turn to cardboard, or they just don’t taste good. After 42 years of eating the real stuff, the “imitation” stuff just will not cut it.
Last week while watching “Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue”, Rip was visiting one of the families and made their signature firehouse favorite, Sweet Potato Lasagna. The Engine 2 Diet encompasses a Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPD) and eliminates all animal products. All I knew was that it looked amazing and I wanted to try it! Then yesterday I realized I had some time in the afternoon to actually make lasagna, so I went through the fridge and pantry to see what I needed and headed to the store! Since I was not sure how the guys were going to react to lasagna that had no cheese and no meat, I also picked up everything to make a pan of traditional lasagna too. Since I knew that I could not eat an entire pan of lasagna myself, I called in reinforcements and invited my friend Lisa over for dinner. Once she found out what I was making, she said that anything she had on her agenda for the evening could wait! We had a dinner date for 6pm!
Once I got home, it was time to put everything together!
The recipe, as found on the Engine 2 Diet website:
RIP’S SWEET POTATO LASAGNA
1 onion, chopped
1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 head broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 package Silken Lite tofu
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 jars pasta sauce (see E2-Approved Foods)
2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles
16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
1 cup raw cashews, ground
Preheat oven to 400º. Sauté the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick
pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid.
Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan.
Sauté the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl. Sauté the peppers and
corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl. Drain the tofu by wrapping in
paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the
vegetable bowl and combine.
To Assemble: Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.
As I was cooking off all the veggies and putting together the filling, the house smelled amazing! The variety of veggies in this dish was unbelievable… this also added some nice color to the dish! Once everything was layered together, it was time to spend some time in the oven.
Anyone who follows my posts regularly will know that I generally always end up making some modifications. Some based on personal preference, some based on dietary restrictions. Yes, today was no different.
Instead of using jarred pasta sauce, I opted to make my own using the Wildtree Spaghetti Sauce blend. This has become my go to for pasta sauce. Simple, quick and tastes great! (thanks Ellyn for always keeping my pantry stocked!)
No onions for this girl
Only used 1 red pepper (still learning to like red pepper)
Skipped the individual spices (except cayenne pepper) and used the WildTree Herbes De Provence
Used Grape tomatoes on the top instead of Roma, because I had some that needed to be used up!
Just before Lisa arrived at out house, 2 pans of lasagna came out of the oven, with just enough time to rest!
Lisa and I both agreed that this was a huge hit! The blend of veggies was amazing! The only thing I would do differently next time was more sauce. Since I made my own, and the original recipe called for 2 jars, making 2 batches of sauce would have been beneficial, but what we had in the dish was still good!
One of the things that I didn’t like about this recipe is that for most of the veggies, it does not give a measurement of how much to add. Have you looked at the varied size of sweet potatoes in the store? Or carrots? In the end, I could have added more sweet potato (so next time either 3, or just 2 bigger ones!) but either way, you can’t go wrong with a pan full of veggies!
I honestly did not even miss the cheese or meat. Lisa and I both ate a few pieces and came up with other veggies that we may have to consider adding next time – eggplant, asparagus, zucchini. The possibilities are endless. I sent her home with enough leftovers for her lunches the rest of the week, and I still have enough left for myself for at least the next 3 days!
My challenge to you: Try at least 1 new recipe this week! Come back here and let me know what you tried! I am looking for new ideas and you never know, your favorite recipe could be featured on a future installment of “What I Eat Wednesday” 🙂