Seems like a good time for another dinner recipe – and, we’ll keep it Light at Night. Here’s a new take on zucchini noodles, one that allows to have your lasagna and eat it too.
But why would you choose Zucchini Lasagna over regular? If you’re a athlete who’s trying to lose fat, or maintain a lean weight, omitting the grains (especiallly refined ones) at dinner is an easy strategy you can put into practice right away – tonight. And, it delivers results. And, you won’t miss those noodles too much. Here’s how.
Recipe of the Week: Delicious Zucchini Lasagna
4 large zucchini, sliced long-ways about 1/4 inch thick each slice
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1 – 14 oz can organic tomato sauce
1 – 14 oz can organic crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup parsley
a pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired
salt and pepper, to taste
15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg white
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
12 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place zucchini slices on a large baking sheet coated with olive oil (or another oil to make it non-stick). Sprinkle the slices with salt and roast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Don’t skip this step – it helps to dry them out.
While the zucchini noodles are roasting, you’ve got some work to do. First, Finely chop basil and parsley. Then, make the meat sauce by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onions, and peppers and cook a few minutes until onions become translucent and garlic is fragrant – stir this occasionally to avoid burning. Add in ground meat and cook until it’s no longer pink. Add in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, oregano, basil, parsley, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until sauce become very thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat to cool.
Next, in a medium bowl, combine egg white, ricotta, and Parmesan. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Add in 1/2 cup of the slightly cooled meat sauce and stir to combine.
Now, assemble lasagna: Spread 1/2 of the meat sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan (again, coated with oil). Place one layer of zucchini slices evenly over meat sauce. Then, add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, spreading it evening over zucchini. Next, sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella over riccota. Repeat layers: meat sauce, zucchini, riccota, and mozzarella.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 min. Remove foil and bake for 15 minute longer uncovered. Serve with a side salad or roasted vegetables. Makes 8 large servings.
Nutrition Information: Approximately 300 calories, 15 grams carbs, 3 grams fiber, 37 grams protein
Sure, this recipe takes a bit more time than my usual 5-Ingredient No-Bake ones, but lasagnas require some love. And speaking of love, this one loves you back by nourishing your body, satisfying your tastes buds, and being oh-so-good to your waistline. You’ve heard it here before; dinner is a great time for vegetables. A lot of vegetables. I recommend covering half your plate with them, every night. Here are a few good reasons.
1) If you’re trying to maintain a healthy or lean weight, or lose weight to improve your power to strength ratio, these low-calorie, nutrient rich foods will give you a lot of benefit, without promoting fat storage (I’ve never had a client ruin their fat loss plan by eating too much zucchini). They’ll also fill you up with volume, and help you control the portions of other foods at dinner.
2) As an athlete, you need the extra antioxidants. All of us have a lot of damaging free radicals in our bodies; they are a natural product of many biochemical processes. In fact, most athletes have extra oxidative stress because they engage in extra biochemical processes: all the extra breathing, muscle contracting, and fuel metabolizing during training. Never fear, you just need some extra antioxidants from food like zucchini.
3) Disease prevention. Vegetables’ fiber, anti-inflammatory components, and cellular detoxifying agents simply promote cellular health and whole-body health. From the cells on up, they reduce our risk of many chronic diseases including Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer. This week, blow it out of the water and get your vegetables as your main dish, zucchini noodles.
In just one cup of zucchini, you’ll get:
Twenty calories (compare this to 80-120 from pasta). Four grams of carbohydrates, 2.5 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.
Vitamin C (potent antioxidant), beta-carotene (potent antioxidant), folate, and potassium. After riding hard, zucchini can help you replenish potassium and fend off leg cramps.
Anti-inflammatory components: The seeds of summer squash contain omega-3s, carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and anti-inflammatory starches.
Anti-microbial and anti-parasitic properties: Dried summer squash seeds are often used in folk-medicine as treatment of intestinal parasites in some parts of the world.
Zucchinis make a wonderful grain/noodle replacement when you’re going Light at Night. And, if you want “real” lasagna on occasion, that’s okay, too. But still, add on the vegetables! They provide antioxidants, fiber, protein, and anti-inflammatory components for very little calories. If you’re striving to be a lean, strong athlete, vegetables at dinner, such as extra zucchini, are always a good choice.
Fuel Your Adventure. Nourish Your Body.
***Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietician, sports nutritionist, avid endurance athlete, and owner of Apex Nutrition, LLC. She has partnered with Heights Performance to help clients get and stay healthy, lose fat, recover from injury, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. She is also an expert in endurance sports nutrition, and focuses on optimal performance, best strength to weight ratio, recovery, endurance and stamina. She teaches clients to eat nourishing, real foods without spending hours in the kitchen or hiring a personal chef. Kelli can help you put great nutrition into everyday life.***
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