This amazing guest post was written by Tammy Catania, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and Certified Holistic Life Coach! You can check out her website here!
For many of us, lasagna has got to be the ultimate comfort food that is normally paired with a giant Caesar salad and cheesy garlic bread. Not only is it a comfort food but is also my go-to meal when we are having large family dinners. It is really easy to make, it is filling and it feeds the whole family. You can prep it ahead and even freeze it for a quick meal on a busy day (this has to be a classic mom hack, plus there is always tons of leftovers for the next day.
But along with a filling and comforting meal, it comes with tons of calories, processed carbs, lots of cheese and meat and sauce that is full of sugar. If you are trying to limit gluten, animal products or just trying to manage your waistline this meal may not be your best friend no matter how yummy it is and you may feel like you need a nap after.
The great news? No matter if you’re watching your waistline, vegan or have removed gluten, you can swap out almost any ingredient and make it healthier. Really, lasagna can taste amazing and be healthy, I promise. (Also instead of the cheesy garlic bread and Caesar salad, try serving it alongside a simple garden salad!)
Here are some great ingredient swapping ideas:
Cheese -Use store bought vegan cheese like Daiya or make your own vegan cheese with ingredients like nuts, tofu, and nutritional yeast.
Tomato Sauce – Use store bought sauce that’s low in sugar or make your own. Making your own sauce has so many benefits, you can added extra veggies to the sauce, limit the amount of sugar and you can even make big batches to freeze for later. But remember when freezing sauce to leave at least half inch at the top for expansion.
Lasagna noodles – Replace with gluten free noodles, eggplant slices or zucchini slices.
Meat – Opt for organic and grass-fed options where possible, and if you’re skipping the meat simply add in tons of veggies as a replacement
How well do you know your healthy ingredients? Take the quiz to find out!
Below are some excellent lasagna alternatives I’ve come across, brought to you by some of the best food bloggers online. You can click through to each recipe to learn more tips, tricks and view their photos.
3 cups (402 g) raw macadamia nuts, soaked blanched almonds*, or 1 16-ounce block extra firm tofu*, drained and pressed dry for 10 minutes)
2 tablespoon (6 g) nutritional yeast
1/2 cup (30 g) fresh basil, finely chopped
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lemon, juiced (2 tablespoon or 30 ml)
1 teaspoon sea salt + pinch black pepper
1/2 cup (120 ml) water, plus more as needed (reduce if using tofu as it requires less)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for flavor + richness)
1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 28-ounce (793 g) jar favorite marinara sauce (look for brand with little amount of sugar)
3 zucchini squash, thinly sliced with a mandolin (or sub eggplant with this recipe as a guide)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (176 C).
Add macadamia nuts to a food processor or blender and mix to combine, scraping down sides as needed. You’re looking for a fine meal.
Add remaining ingredients: Nutritional yeast, fresh basil, oregano, lemon juice, olive oil (optional), salt, pepper, water and vegan parmesan cheese (optional). You are looking for a well-puréed mixture/paste.
Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt and pepper for flavor, nutritional yeast for cheesiness, and lemon juice for brightness.
Pour about 1 cup marinara sauce into a 9×13-inch (or similar size) baking dish and line with thinly sliced zucchini.
Scoop small spoonful amounts of ricotta mixture over the zucchini and gently spread into a thin layer. Spread on a layer of marinara sauce and then top with more zucchini slices. Continue until all filling and zucchini are used up. The top two layers should be zucchini and then sauce. Sprinkle on vegan parmesan cheese (optional), and then cover with foil.
Bake covered for 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 15 minutes more. The zucchini should be very easily pierced when cut with a knife. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Serve immediately with additional vegan parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Leftovers keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator, or in the freezer up to 1 month.
*If subbing blanched almonds, soak in cold water overnight (or 6 hours), or in very hot water 1 hour. Then drain thoroughly and proceed with recipe as written.
*If subbing tofu, make sure it’s firm (not silken). Adjust seasonings as needed as the tofu requires a little bit more nutritional yeast, salt and basil.
6 cups Portobello mushrooms, cut in quarters
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 onions, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup white wine
2 cups mixed walnuts and hazelnuts
2 cups frozen spinach leaves
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups tomato sauce
freshly ground black pepper
Vegan Béchamel Sauce
1 teaspoon coconut oil
3 tablespoon chickpea flour
2 cups almond milk
½ cup low sodium vegetable broth
½ teaspoon nutmeg powder
½ package lasagna sheets
2 organic eggs
Heat the oven at 180°C/356°F.
Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet, add the onions, carrot, celery and two garlic cloves, and cook for 7-10 minutes at low heat , stirring from time to time.
Add the mushrooms and nuts, stir to combine and cook until all the released liquid evaporates.
Add the white wine, stir to combine and cook for 3 more minutes.
Transfer into a food processor bowl, and pulse two or three times, until the mixture resembles with minced meat.
Put the mixture back in the skillet, add tomato sauce and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat.
Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet, add one garlic clove, fry it for 30 seconds, just to flavor the oil, then add the spinach and stir to combine.
Cook the spinach until all the liquid evaporates, season with salt and pepper and transfer in a bowl.
Heat the coconut oil in a sauce pan over low heat, add the chickpea flour and stir to combine.
Add the almond milk and vegetable broth, bring to boil and simmer on low heat whisking continuously until the mixture thickens. Adjust the texture with almond milk. Season with nutmeg.
Grease a baking pan with olive oil, and add layers of lasagna sheets, topped with mushroom ragu, and béchamel sauce.
Repeat with the rest of the composition, and top with a layer of lasagna sheets and cooked spinach.
Beat the eggs, season with salt and pepper and pour on top of the dish.
Cook for 20 minutes. Serve immediately.
Makes 10 to 12 servings.
28 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon organic olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
2 cups diced red onion
1/2 teaspoon pink rock salt
3 tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 cups thinly sliced portobello mushrooms
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped pitted olives
1 cup chopped basil, divided
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red pepper
4 cups zucchini (sliced 1/8 thick lengthwise on mandoline)
4 cups spinach, loosely packed
2 8 oz packages Daiya cheese (tapioca cheese)
1 cup Faux Ricotta Cheese (recipe below)
Drain tomatoes set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large pot, sauté olive oil, turkey, onions, salt, Italian seasoning and mushrooms over medium heat.
Once turkey is cooked, about 8 minutes, add reserved tomatoes, garlic, olives and 1/4 cup basil and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a 9 x13-inch baking dish, layer a quarter of the zucchini strips, then 1/3 each of turkey mixture, peppers, cheeses, fresh basil and spinach. Repeat with two more layers. Top with a thin layer of zucchini strips and Daiya cheese. (The unbaked lasagna will appear very high because the raw spinach takes up a lot of volume. Once the lasagna is cooked down it will be about half the height.)
Bake for 45 minutes. Let rest for 20 minutes before serving.
Faux Ricotta Cheese
If you are sensitive to soy, try it with tahini and increase the sea salt.
Makes 4 servings.
1 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup pine nuts or cashews
1 cup walnuts
1 1/2 tablespoon light miso or tahini
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon pink rock salt
Add garlic to food processor. Using the S-blade attachment, process into small pieces.
Add pine nuts or cashews and walnuts and process into powder.
Add miso, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Process, adding water just until mixture has texture of ricotta cheese.
Add parsley and lightly process until combined. Add salt to taste. Will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
2 medium onions, chopped
8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 (28-ounce) cans or jars of whole, crushed or stewed tomatoes (or 4 15-ounce cans)
1 (6-ounce) can or jar of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves (or 1/4 cup fresh, finely chopped)
2 bay leaves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil in a medium size pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes
Add garlic and saute another minute.
Then, add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, bay leaves, thyme and salt/pepper.
Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.
Simmer for 10-15 minutes to let flavors meld. (Can simmer longer if desired for a thicker sauce with a deeper flavor).