The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection: 9 Essential Recipes You Need To Create 90 Amazing Complete Meals

Chapter 3: Lasagna

No Noodle Zucchini Lasagna

No Noodle Cauliflower Lasagna

No Noodle Polenta Lasagna

No Noodle Spinach Lasagna

Lasagna Cupcakes

Lasagna Soup

Corn Tortilla Lasagna

Lasagna Roll Ups

Skillet Lasagna

The Principles of Lasagna Making

Lasagna for people with diabetes? Oh yes you can! But the classic creation oozing with a ton of cheese and stuffed with fatty meats is not what I am referring to. The first five recipes in this chapter are based on a technique that utilizes vegetables and grains (not traditional noodles) to create luscious layers. Zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, spinach, and polenta stand in for the more starchy noodles, and are easy to assemble as well. For the remaining five recipes, I use noodles; however, in lesser quantity, so that each serving contains less than a traditional lasagna.

All of these lasagna recipes call for making your own marinara sauce or purchasing low-sodium varieties. I would encourage you to prepare your own sauce. While it cooks, you can prepare the other parts of the dish. The recipe for the marinara sauce is from the Pasta chapter, but I’ve repeated it here so you don’t have to flip pages. Once you’ve prepared this staple sauce, you can close the book and prepare it all by memory. Now that’s what makes a great cook!

Here are some important additional tips to make these vegetable and grain-based lasagnas:

1. For lasagnas that include zucchini and/or eggplant, it is very important to salt both vegetables prior baking. Salt will draw the moisture out of the vegetable so you don’t end up with a soggy mess once everything is baked together. Both vegetables are also cooked once prior to being cooked again in the assembled lasagna. This will further dry out the vegetables so they remain sturdy and not water logged. Leave the skins on both vegetables, as that will help to hold them together. I sliced the vegetables with a knife while testing, but if you are adept at using a mandolin, feel free to use one. The mandolin creates perfectly sliced vegetables.

2. For the No Noodle Cauliflower Lasagna, follow each step carefully. While it may appear like a lot of steps, the instructions are easy. When you add the cauliflower to the food processor, the end result should look like small pieces of rice, not a smooth puree. After baking the cauliflower and adding it to the cheesecloth, make sure you squeeze every ounce of water out of the cauliflower. This might take a little muscle, but it’s really important, otherwise the cauliflower noodles will not come together.

3. The fillings for all five lasagnas are very similar. This will make it easier for grocery shopping, and any leftover ingredients can be parlayed into the next lasagna you wish to prepare. In the first, the No Noodle Zucchini Lasagna, I use tofu as a predominant part of the filling. Once cooked, tofu has a very similar quality to ricotta cheese. I add ricotta cheese as well, as the tofu and ricotta complement each other very well. The filling of the No Noodle Cauliflower Lasagna is a bit simpler. By eliminating the tofu, cottage cheese and ricotta complement the cauliflower nicely. In the No Noodle Polenta Lasagna, only mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses are used as a topping. In the No Noodle Spinach Lasagna, cottage cheese is blended to smooth it out and then it’s combined with ricotta for an almost sauce-like filling. Always purchase small curd cottage cheese as it will release less water than large curd. Make sure the Parmesan is freshly grated from a wedge and not pre-grated from a can.

4. For the No Noodle Polenta Lasagna: polenta is either labeled as such or it’s just labeled as cornmeal. Use a yellow, not white, grain and make sure the grain is coarse, not fine. Imported brands usually taste a bit better so find one if you can. I would avoid using the pre-made polenta or instant polenta; both suffer in quality.

5. Let all the lasagnas sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes after they come out of the oven. It will be easier to slice into pieces once the ingredients have had a chance to settle. These lasagnas will make fine leftovers, but since they are so vegetable based, it’s best to eat them quickly. I’m sure you’ll have no trouble sharing these warm, delicious dishes with your friends and family.

The last five recipes are what I term “alternative lasagnas.” The usual layering is replaced with creative ways to present the ingredients. As you will probably have leftover ingredients from the No Noodle recipes, you can easily prepare these alternatives without being repetitive in your menu planning.

In Lasagna Cupcakes, thin wonton noodles stand in for heavy noodles. I created this recipe with complete portion control in mind. I don’t know about you, but when I used to prepare a traditional lasagna, it was kind of difficult to stick to one portion! These cute muffins with the same great lasagna flavor make portion control a snap.

For the Lasagna Soup you’ll need heatproof soup bowls to create a broiled crusty topping with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. This recipe is also designed for perfect portion control. You’ll get a few pieces of lasagna noodles in every bite, but nowhere near the amount of noodles you would eat with a traditional lasagna.

For the Corn Tortilla Lasagna, more fiber-rich and lower-calorie corn tortillas are the noodles. I’ve slipped in a few beans to complement the corn flavor, but left in the traditional lasagna ingredients so you don’t have to shop for additional foods you might not have. The bottom layer will get very soft. Be sure not to spread the sauce all the way to the edges. That way, you get a nice balance of crispy edges with a soft middle.

It was my Mom who taught me how to make my recipe for Lasagna Roll Ups! She got tired of all the layering and fuss and one day just rolled a noodle with the cheese filling, and it made her life in the kitchen much easier. Look for lasagna with curly edges to make the spiraled lasagna really elegant.

Use your skillet instead of your casserole dish to make Skillet Lasagna. I love free-formed food, and in this lasagna, all the ingredients come together faster on the stovetop. Personally, I think it tastes richer with all the ingredients melding into each other.

No Noodle Zucchini Lasagna

No Noodle Zucchini Lasagna

Serves: 18 | Serving size: 2 × 3-inch square | Prep time: 45 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour 25 minutes

Zucchini lasagna was the very first lasagna I ever made. Originally, I prepared it with noodles, but now I realize that long strips of zucchini stand in for the noodles beautifully.

Marinara Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28-ounce) can good-quality canned tomatoes, preferably packed in its own juice, drained, liquid reserved

5 fresh basil leaves with stems, sliced or whole

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground red chili flakes (optional)

3 large zucchini

Filling

16 ounces firm lite tofu

1/2 cup minced parsley

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Topping

1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet with a lid over low heat (do not use a deep pot, as you want the water to quickly evaporate and the sauce to become thick). Cook the garlic for about 6–7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Meanwhile, add the drained tomatoes to a deep bowl. Crush the tomatoes with your hands, until coarse. Add the tomatoes and basil to the skillet and simmer, uncovered, for 20–25 minutes until thick. Add some of the reserved liquid from the can of tomatoes if the sauce is too thick.

4. Preheat the oven to 400°F. As the sauce simmers, slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/8-inch thick slices with a knife or mandolin. Arrange the zucchini on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the zucchini lightly with salt. Bake the zucchini for about 10–12 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the zucchini from the oven. Gently roll up the zucchini slices in a towel to get rid of the excess moisture, or just use paper toweling and blot very well. Be careful to keep the slices intact. Add in the salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper (if using) to the tomato sauce.

5. In a food processor or blender, process the tofu, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic until smooth. Add to a large bowl and mix in the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, egg, salt, and pepper.

6. Pour about 1/3 cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of a 9 × 12 baking pan. Add a layer of zucchini slices, overlapping them slightly. Add 1/3 of the filling mixture over the zucchini, spreading evenly with a spatula. Add about 1/3 of the remaining marinara sauce over the tofu cheese filling. Repeat the layering process until all ingredients are used up, finishing with marinara sauce. Sprinkle the top of the lasagna with the Parmesan or Romano cheese.

7. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove the lasagna from the oven, let stand at room temperature for 10–15 minutes so lasagna can settle and it will be easier to cut. Cut into squares.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Protein, medium fat

Calories 80; Calories from Fat 35; Total Fat 4.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.6 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 20 mg; Sodium 240 mg; Potassium 260 mg; Total Carbohydrate 5 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 6 g; Phosphorus 115 mg

Sides

Your Choice of any Master Protein

Blueberries

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/3 cup

1/3 cup of blueberries

1. Serve blueberries alongside lasagna and protein.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Fruit

Calories 25; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 35 mg; Total Carbohydrate 7 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 5 g; Protein 0 g; Phosphorus 5 mg

No Noodle Cauliflower Lasagna

Serves: 18 | Serving size: 2 × 3-inch square | Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes for the cauliflower, 45 minutes for the lasagna

When I first heard that you could make “noodles” from cauliflower, I was quite skeptical. But when I sampled a noodle-less cauliflower lasagna at a local restaurant, it caused me to pause and reconsider. Intrigued, I begged the chef to part with his recipe. Don’t shy away from the bit of labor involved; you will have created not only cauliflower lasagna sheets, but you can also form the mixture into a great pizza crust.

Cauliflower Noodles

2 large heads cauliflower, leaves and stems removed, coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Filling

1 cup low-fat (1%) cottage cheese

1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 egg, beaten

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups favorite low-sodium store-bought marinara sauce

1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the cauliflower to a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower looks riced (flaky, not puréed). Spread the cauliflower in one thin, even layer onto the baking sheet. Bake the cauliflower for 10–15 minutes.

2. Line a bowl with a double layer of cheesecloth, leaving overhang over the sides of the bowl. Add the baked cauliflower to the cheesecloth and bring up the ends of cheesecloth so you form a ball. Allow to cool a few minutes. Protecting your hands with pot holders, squeeze the excess water from the cauliflower until there is no water left.

3. Rinse the bowl and add the cauliflower, discarding the cheesecloth. Add in the eggs, mozzarella cheese, and black pepper. Mix well. Reline the baking sheet with parchment paper. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet into an even layer. Bake the crust for 15 minutes until lightly browned.

4. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and cool for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the filling. Remove the cauliflower from the baking sheet and place onto a work surface. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the cauliflower into strings like lasagna noodles.

5. In the bottom of a 9 × 12 baking pan, spread about 1/3 cup of sauce. Add a layer of cauliflower noodles. Using a spatula, spread some of the filling over the noodles, then add more sauce. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used. Top the lasagna with the Parmesan cheese.

6. Lower the oven temperature to 400°F. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover, and bake an additional 15–20 minutes until lasagna is bubbly and browned. Remove the lasagna from the oven, and let rest 15 minutes before slicing. Cut into squares.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Protein, lean

Calories 70; Calories from Fat 20; Total Fat 2.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.1 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 40 mg; Sodium 160 mg; Potassium 250 mg; Total Carbohydrate 5 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 7 g; Phosphorus 120 mg

Sides

Your Choice of any Master Protein

Blueberries

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/3 cup

1/3 cup of blueberries

1. Serve blueberries alongside lasagna and protein.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Fruit

Calories 25; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 35 mg; Total Carbohydrate 7 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 5 g; Protein 0 g; Phosphorus 5 mg

No Noodle Polenta Lasagna

Serves: 18 | Serving size: 2 × 3-inch square | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 80 minutes

Polenta was a dish my mom made frequently, especially on cold, wintry upstate New York nights. Mom always made too much and once the polenta was refrigerated, it hardened and we would slice and sauté it into a crispy side dish. When I wanted to create noodle-less lasagnas, I remembered how well polenta went from a creamy bowl to something you could slice: the perfect substitute for traditional lasagna noodles. Be sure to use yellow coarse-meal polenta for this dish; the white fine-meal polenta is too bland.

Polenta

4 cups low-fat, reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups coarse polenta

Sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups sliced mushrooms, stems removed

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

2 cups low-sodium store bought marinara sauce

Topping

1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Coat a 9 × 12-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring the chicken broth and salt to a boil. Slowly add in the polenta, reduce the heat to medium, and stir the polenta until it comes away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. (It is not necessary to constantly stir, but do it often enough to ensure a smooth polenta.) Pour the polenta into the prepared pan, spread evenly, and place in the refrigerator for approximately 20 minutes or until it hardens.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and leave undisturbed without stirring for 1 minute. Begin to stir and sauté for about 5 minutes until mushrooms are browned and just begin to give up their moisture. Add in the basil and marinara sauce and simmer for 3 minutes.

3. After the polenta has become hard, remove it from the refrigerator. Spread the mushroom marinara on top of the polenta and top with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

4. Cover the lasagna and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10–15 minutes more until bubbly and browned. Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Cut into squares.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Starch

Calories 90; Calories from Fat 20; Total Fat 2.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.9 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 210 mg; Potassium 200 mg; Total Carbohydrate 12 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 4 g; Phosphorus 80 mg

Sides

Your Choice of any Master Protein

Orange

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1 orange

1 small orange

1. Peel orange and serve alongside lasagna and Master Protein.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Fruit

Calories 45; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 170 mg; Total Carbohydrate 11 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 9 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 15 mg

No Noodle Spinach Lasagna

Serves: 18 | Serving size: 2 × 3-inch square | Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes for the sauce, 30 minutes for the lasagna

This lasagna was created for those of us who just want to dig in and eat. Make sure your spinach leaves are dried very well. A salad spinner can help here tremendously. I suggest purchasing flat-leaf spinach versus the thicker curly-edged spinach as the flat-leaf variety will release less moisture. If you want to use frozen spinach instead of fresh, feel free to do so, but be sure to really squeeze out all the moisture.

sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use

4 cups sliced mushrooms, stems removed

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 small carrots, diced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cups low-sodium store-bought marinara sauce

Filling

1 cup small curd cottage cheese (1% milk fat)

1 cup nonfat ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest

4 cups fresh flat-leaf spinach leaves, coarse stems removed, washed and very well dried

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Coat a 9 × 12-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and leave undisturbed for 1 minute. Begin to stir and sauté the mushrooms for 5 minutes until browned and the mushrooms just begin to release moisture. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon from the skillet to a plate and set aside. Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions and sauté for 5–6 minutes until soft. Add the carrots and sauté for 4 minutes until the carrots are soft. Add the thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Add back the mushrooms. Add the marinara sauce and simmer on medium low heat for 20 minutes.

3. Add the cottage cheese to a blender and process until thick but smooth. Add the cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, and lemon zest to a bowl.

4. Ladle about 1/2 cup of sauce into the prepared baking pan. Add a layer of spinach leaves. Using a spatula, spoon half the filling mixture into the pan. Sprinkle with half the mozzarella cheese. Add half of the remaining sauce. Repeat the layers one more time. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top. Drizzle the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over the top.

5. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 10–15 minutes for the lasagna to settle. Cut into squares. Note: this lasagna is more like a scooped lasagna, so the squares won’t exactly be precise.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Protein, lean

Calories 70; Calories from Fat 20; Total Fat 2.5 g; Saturated Fat 1.1 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 10 mg; Sodium 160 mg; Potassium 230 mg; Total Carbohydrate 5 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 6 g; Phosphorus 110 mg

Sides

Your Choice of any Master Protein

Plums

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 2 plums

2 small plums

1. Serve plums alongside lasagna and protein.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Fruit

Calories 60; Calories from Fat 5; Total Fat 0.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 210 mg; Total Carbohydrate 15 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 13 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 20 mg

Lasagna Cupcakes

Lasagna Cupcakes

Serves: 12 | Serving size: 1 cupcake | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes

I’m not particularly fond of the massive cupcake trend that hit the nation not too long ago, but making lasagna into “cupcakes” is a movement I could get behind. When you want all the elements of lasagna in a low-calorie, very easy to serve way, my Lasagna Cupcakes fit the bill. These are great to bring to a party as they transport beautifully.

24 square wonton wrappers

3/4 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

24 fresh basil leaves

2 cups low-sodium store-bought marinara sauce

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. Add one wonton wrapper to the bottom of each cup, pressing down into the center with the pointed ends set up.

3. Mix together the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, egg, dried oregano, and black pepper. Add a scant tablespoon of the cheese mixture over the wonton wrapper. Lay a basil leaf on top of the cheese. Add a tablespoon of the marinara sauce over the basil leaf. Repeat all the layers one more time ending with sauce. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with Parmesan.

4. Bake the lasagna muffins for 18–20 minutes until bubbly and browned. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around each cup to loosen. Remove from the pan and serve.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Starch; 1/2 Fat

Calories 100; Calories from Fat 25; Total Fat 3.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.5 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 25 mg; Sodium 190 mg; Potassium 180 mg; Total Carbohydrate 14 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 7 g; Phosphorus 110 mg

Sides

Seared Chicken Breasts

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 3 ounces

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (remove any tenderloins so chicken lays flat)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1. Pound the chicken breasts so they are even in thickness. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken breasts and sear on both sides for about 5 minutes per side. Be sure to let one side of the chicken thoroughly sear before turning over to the other side. This will ensure even cooking and will prevent sticking.

3. Cover the skillet, lower the heat to low, and cook for about 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Exchanges / Choices: 3 Protein, lean; 1/2 Fat

Calories 170; Calories from Fat 70; Total Fat 8.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.5 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 65 mg; Sodium 290 mg; Potassium 200 mg; Total Carbohydrate 0 g; Dietary Fiber 0 g; Sugars 0 g; Protein 24 g; Phosphorus 175 mg

Spinach

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/2 cup

1/2 cup spinach

1. Steam spinach for 2–3 minutes or until wilted and serve alongside chicken and lasagna cupcakes.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 20; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 65 mg; Potassium 420 mg; Total Carbohydrate 3 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 0 g; Protein 3 g; Phosphorus 50 mg

Lasagna Soup

Serves: 9 | Serving size: 1 cup | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 45 minutes

When trying to think of ways to reduce the amount of noodles in a lasagna, yet still deliver all of its components, I thought, why not soup? Every ingredient typically found in lasagna is here with only four noodles in the recipe. I find the taste of this lasagna soup lighter and you can actually taste each flavor.

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cups sliced mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour

6 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

4 curly edged whole-wheat lasagna noodles, broken

1/2 cup sliced fresh basil

3/4 cup nonfat ricotta cheese

3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the mushrooms and leave undisturbed for 1 minute. Begin to stir and sauté for 5 minutes until mushrooms are browned and just begin to release their liquid. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and set aside.

2. Add in the onions and sauté for 4 minutes. Add in the carrots and sauté for 4 minutes. Add back the mushrooms. Add in the flour and sauté 1 minute until the flour is incorporated into the vegetables. Add in the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes.

3. Add in the lasagna and raise the heat to medium high. Cook for 6–8 minutes until the noodles are cooked through. Add the basil and cook 1 minute. Ladle the soup into ovenproof bowls. With a spoon, drop ricotta cheese into each bowl. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Set the bowls on a baking sheet and set the oven to broil.

4. Broil the soup, 6 inches from the heat source, just until the cheese is melted. Remove the soup from the oven. With pot holders, place each soup bowl on a plate to serve.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Protein, medium fat

Calories 140; Calories from Fat 35; Total Fat 4.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.6 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 15 mg; Sodium 320 mg; Potassium 470 mg; Total Carbohydrate 16 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 5 g; Protein 12 g; Phosphorus 220 mg

Sides

Green Beans

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/2 cup

1/2 cup green beans

1. Steam green beans for 5–7 minutes until tender and crisp and serve alongside pasta and chicken.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 20; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 90 mg; Total Carbohydrate 5 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 1 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 20 mg

Orange

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1 orange

1 small orange

1. Serve orange alongside salad and snow peas.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Fruit

Calories 45; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 170 mg; Total Carbohydrate 11 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 9 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 15 mg

Corn Tortilla Lasagna

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1/4 tortilla | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 25 minutes

While a majority of the lasagna recipes in this chapter have the traditional ingredients, I’ve also learned that many homes have other staples on hand that can be put to good use, like tortillas. This is a fun, cake-like lasagna that you cut into wedges. It’s inexpensive and a great way to serve fiber-rich beans. Change the beans to any kind you prefer and try blue or yellow corn tortillas.

4 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Sauce

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup low-sodium store-bought marinara sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add the corn tortillas to a baking sheet. Bake the tortillas for 5–7 minutes until lightly toasted.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and oregano and sauté 1 minute. Add in the marinara sauce, lower the heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add in the lime juice and remove from the heat.

3. Place one toasted tortilla in an 8-inch round cake pan. Spread with some of the sauce, leaving about 1/2 inch all the way around the tortilla exposed. Add cannellini beans. Top with some of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the mozzarella cheese. Top entire lasagna with Parmesan cheese.

4. Bake the lasagna for 25 minutes until cheese is melted and tortillas are crisp. Remove from oven and let the lasagna settle for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges to serve.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 1/2 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Protein, medium fat

Calories 210; Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.4 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 10 mg; Sodium 160 mg; Potassium 460 mg; Total Carbohydrate 30 g; Dietary Fiber 5 g; Sugars 5 g; Protein 10 g; Phosphorus 240 mg

Side

Asparagus

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 6 spears

6 asparagus spears

Pinch lemon zest

1. Steam asparagus spears for 6–8 minutes and top with a pinch of lemon zest.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 20; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 15 mg; Potassium 200 mg; Total Carbohydrate 4 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 1 g; Protein 2 g; Phosphorus 50 mg

Lasagna Roll Ups

Serves: 6 | Serving size: 1 roll up | Prep time: 25 minutes | Cook time: 30–35 minutes

My sister and I used to quibble about which square of lasagna we wanted from the casserole dish. We’d invariably pick the same square! Those quarrels were put to an end when my Mom created this recipe. As everyone gets a predetermined portion, there will be no family “fights” about which square each one wants! Each of these roll ups comes out exactly the same and the overall process of creating lasagna is streamlined.

6 uncooked whole-wheat lasagna noodles (preferably curly edged)

2 teaspoons olive oil

3/4 cup nonfat ricotta cheese

3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1 (10-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach, very well drained and squeezed dry

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch nutmeg

2 cups low-sodium store-bought marinara sauce

1/4 grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and lay into a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle each sheet with olive oil.

2. While the lasagna noodles are cooking, in a bowl, mix together the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach, egg, oregano, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

3. Spread about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9 × 12-inch baking pan. Add a large spoonful of the cheese mixture on one end of a lasagna noodle. Roll up the lasagna noodle, from the short side into a spiral shape. You should have a roll that resembles a fat burrito. Repeat with the remaining noodles. Arrange the noodles, seam side down in the pan. Pour the remaining sauce over all the rolls. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

4. Bake for 30–35 minutes until bubbly and browned.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Starch; 2 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Protein, lean; 1 Fat

Calories 220; Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6.0 g; Saturated Fat 2.5 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 50 mg; Sodium 300 mg; Potassium 470 mg; Total Carbohydrate 26 g; Dietary Fiber 4 g; Sugars 6 g; Protein 16 g; Phosphorus 260 mg

Sides

Steamed Broccoli

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/2 cup

1/2 cup broccoli

1. Steam broccoli for 2–3 minutes until tender and crisp and serve alongside lasagna roll ups and strawberries.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 25; Calories from Fat 5; Total Fat 0.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.1 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 30 mg; Potassium 230 mg; Total Carbohydrate 6 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 1 g; Protein 2 g; Phosphorus 50 mg

Strawberries

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 3/4 cup

3/4 cup strawberries

1. Serve strawberries alongside lasagna roll ups and broccoli.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Fruit

Calories 40; Calories from Fat 5; Total Fat 0.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 190 mg; Total Carbohydrate 10 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 6 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 30 mg

Skillet Lasagna

Serves: 6 | Serving size: 1 cup | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

Years ago, I gave a class to a group of people who live on boats. They wanted me to come up with ideas for one-pot meals without the use of an oven. Comfort foods were also a requirement. Needless to say, this Skillet Lasagna worked very well in their tight, cramped galley kitchens. This is somewhat similar to the Lasagna Soup, but thicker and richer.

1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added whole tomatoes

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 pound lean ground beef (95%)

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

4 whole-wheat lasagna noodles, broken

3/4 cup small curd, low-fat cottage cheese

1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup sliced fresh basil

1. Add the tomatoes to a large bowl and crush them coarsely with your hands. Add the water. Set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 4–5 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add in the beef and red pepper flakes and sauté 3–4 minutes.

3. Lay the noodles over the beef mixture. Pour the tomato sauce mixture on top. Cover and cook about 15–20 minutes over medium heat or until noodles are soft, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the cottage cheese in dollops over the noodles and then gently mix it in. (You don’t have to thoroughly mix in the cottage cheese.) Top with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, cover, and cook 3–4 minutes until the mozzarella cheese melts. Sprinkle the top with fresh basil.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Starch; 2 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 2 Protein, lean; 1/2 Fat

Calories 210; Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6.0 g; Saturated Fat 2.3 g; Trans Fat 0.1 g; Cholesterol 30 mg; Sodium 240 mg; Potassium 530 mg; Total Carbohydrate 21 g; Dietary Fiber 4 g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 18 g; Phosphorus 235 mg

Sides

Roasted Pepper Salad

Serves: 6 | Serving size: 1 cup | Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes

2 large red peppers

2 large yellow or orange peppers

2 large green peppers

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped or crushed

Garnish

12 black olives, pitted

A handful of small fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the peppers with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and arrange them in a shallow roasting pan. Roast for about 35 minutes or until the pepper skins are evenly darkened, turning them 3 or 4 times. Place the peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave until they are cool enough to handle.

2. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, peel the peppers. Cut them in half and discard the cores and seeds (strain out any seeds that fall into the juice), then cut into thick slices.

3. Measure 1 1/2 tablespoons of the pepper juice into a small bowl (discard the remainder). Add the vinegar and garlic and whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

4. Arrange the peppers on a serving platter or on individual salad plates. Drizzle over the dressing and garnish with the olives and basil.

Exchanges / Choices: 2 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Fat

Calories 100; Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.8 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 85 mg; Potassium 380 mg; Total Carbohydrate 12 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 6 g; Protein 2 g; Phosphorus 45 mg

Spinach

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/2 cup

1/2 cup spinach

1. Steam spinach and serve alongside lasagna and salad.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 20; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 65 mg; Potassium 420 mg; Total Carbohydrate 3 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 0 g; Protein 3 g; Phosphorus 50 mg