March is my birthday month, and it always snows in March. At least while I’ve lived on the East coast. I do believe one year in Oregon it snowed as well, but mostly just rain. Hopefully spring is soon on the way, but I’m one of those people that truly doesn’t mind the snow. I was a bit worried as I had a nutrition clinic at Cutter’s Bike shop in Bethlehem, PA, and I was concerned with driving and if people would come.
Nothing to be concerned with, I arrived safely and we had a great group of triathletes/cyclists. My clinic went nearly 2 hours! I have to give a shout out to the Bethlehem/Allentown area. There are some great bike shops and run shops there, plus the homes of Bicycling Magazine and Runner’s World. Also, a world class velodrome and some fantastic trails and roads for endurance athletes. I could see us living in that area and being very happy there.
On to the lasagna. I love lasagna, and being Italian, it’s in my blood. Ever searching to make a healthier lasagna, and a low carb version for injured athletes, here’s my latest version. I think it came out pretty well. When I first told Brett I was making lasagna, it was “great.” Then it was, “wait, where the noodles, I’m not that hungry” and finally “you’re putting sausage in it, maybe i’ll have some after all.”
Lasagna doesn’t have to be too time intensive. It can be, but if you’re a busy working mother or father (dogs count), sometimes you can’t make it with all things from scratch. To save time, I used a jar sauce. And here’s a trick….If you want to hide some of the vegetable taste of the zucchini noodles (that’s going to be your noodles), then a good tasting sauce is key. Brett and I like spicy red sauce, so I used an arrabbiata sauce. Arrabbiata means angry in Italian. The angry part of the sauce comes from the red pepper added.
The main ingredients in this lasagna are vegetables, red sauce, lean Italian chicken sausage, fat free cottage cheese and 2% mozzarella cheese. Yes it does have a bit of saturated fat from the chicken sausage and 2% cheese, but if you’re looking for a healthier, lower carb, gluten free comfort cooking meal on these snowy days, check out this recipe. You can also make this totally vegetarian by just not including the meat. I would up the veggies by an additional 2 cups though. The hardest part is chopping the veggies and waiting the 60min to eat. Here’s my recipe.
Zucchini Noodle Lasagna (Serves 8)
- 4 Zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 lb lean ground beef, turkey, chicken or sausage (I used chicken sausage)
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 green or red pepper diced
- 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups of spinach (I buy a big tub of spinach and just reach in and grab two very large handfuls, I don’t measure spinach)
- 1 jar of red pasta sauce, divided, your choice-I used arrabbiata
- 1 egg
- 1.5 cups of fat free cottage cheese
- .5 cup of parmesan cheese
- 2 cups of 2% mozzarella cheese
- spices to taste (more garlic, oregano, basil, pepper)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with foil, and gently place zucchini slices on the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and bake for 10min in preheated oven.
- After 10min, let the zucchini cool and blot the zucchini with a paper towel. This will help to absorb some of the liquid given off from the zucchini
- Meanwhile, saute your meat/sausage until brown. Take off any additional fat from the pan. Add the garlic, onion and pepper and cook for 5-8min. Then, add the mushrooms and spinach and cook an additional 3-5 min until all the veggies are cooked and soft. Drain any water that may be in the pan.
- Take your 9×13 pan and add 1 cup of pasta sauce to the bottom to coat it. Reserve 1 cup of pasta sauce for later use as the last layer of the lasagna. Add the remaining pasta sauce to the meat and veggie mixture. Let this sit while you work on the cheese.
- Mix the cottage cheese, parmesan cheese and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese together. Add your egg and any additional spices. Mix gently.
- You will have 3 layers of zucchini acting as macaroni and you’ll need 2 layers of meat/veggie/sauce and 2 layers of cheese. Layer your first layer of zucchini in the pan. Top with meat/veggie/sauce mixture. Top with cheese mixture and spread evenly out. Repeat with zucchini, meat, and cheese. Finally, your third layer of zucchini will go on top.
- Use the additional 1 cup of pasta sauce to spread evenly over the last layer of zucchini. Sprinkle with 1 cup of mozzarella.
- Cover with foil and bake 45min.
- Uncover and back an additional 15 min. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Nutrition per serving:
- 24g carbohydrate
- 16g fat
- 30g protein
- 5g fiber