New Year’s Resolutions & Sneaky Vegetables

Happy New Year!

As a lover of tradition, I’ve made at least one resolution for 2017: to post fortnightly on the blog. With any luck you will be hearing from me every second Sunday (AEST, so depending where you are it could still be Saturday – hello international friends!).

For many people out in the world, eating healthier becomes a new year’s resolution pretty regularly (and/or losing weight and/or getting fit etc etc). If anything, this isn’t a bad one – the Australian Health Survey 2011-13 revealed that less than 4% of Australian adults were eating the minimum recommended number of serves of vegetables. On average, people had three serves/day, which was higher than I expected tbh, but there’s still room for improvement.

For more info on what is recommended that healthy adults should aim to eat, see the Australian Dietary Guidelines (this brochure is a nice summary).

The modification

After finding some wholemeal lasagne sheets in the supermarket, I decided to turn a recipe for ‘Spinach Lasagne’ from the Australian Women’s Weekly ‘Italian Cooking Class Cookbook‘ into a ‘Sneaky Vegetable Lasagne’.

lasagne pack.JPG

Goldmine

A random overheard comment about how cauliflower puree is delicious inspired me to use it in place of traditional white sauce, and a separate brainwave inspired me to use grated sweet potato instead of the sugar which is usually recommended in tomato-based sauces (at least in many of the cookbooks I’ve seen). I also replaced half the meat with a tin of lentils, which I have done in the past when making burgers.

What difference did it make?

All the extra vegetables lowered the energy content per serve, despite an average serve being slightly heavier than the original. More food for less energy is a win for anyone who is trying to watch their weight for whatever reason. My lasagne had more than double the fibre of the original, and gets you about a third or more of the way to your daily fibre goal. Each serving of lasagne also contains about three serves of vegetables.

lasagne-info

Based on each lasagne serving eight

The recipe – Sneaky Veg Lasagne

Ingredients:

parts-and-layers

  • 250g wholemeal instant lasagne sheets
  • 250g packet frozen spinach, thawed
  • 3/4 cup (60g) cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
Red Sauce:tomato-sauce
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 125g mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 250g lean beef mince
  • 100g sweet potato, grated
  • 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp beef stock powder
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 400g can brown lentils
Cheese sauce:
  • 750g frozen cauliflower
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (120g) cheddar cheese, grated

Method:

  1. Cook onion, garlic, mushrooms and meat with a little olive oil in a saucepan, until meat is starting to brown.sweet-potato-in-mince
  2. Add sweet potato and cook until meat is brown and onions are soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, oregano, stock powder and pepper. Bring to the boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, adding lentils about half an hour in. Simmer uncovered until sauce is thick (approx another 15 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, make cauliflower puree:cauli-puree microwave cauliflower for about 15 minutes, until soft (alternatively you can steam/boil or whatever you feel like – I chose frozen cauli and microwave to make my life easy). Place in a food processor. Season with pepper. Process, adding oil and cheese gradually, until smooth.
  5. Layer your lasagne: start with a thin spread of red sauce, then a layer of pasta. You can pretty much do whatever you want from there, but this is what I did:
    1. Red sauce
    2. Pasta
    3. Cauli puree
    4. Spinach
    5. Pasta
    6. Red sauce
    7. Pasta
    8. Cauli puree
    9. Grated cheddar and parmesanlasagne-on-plate
  6. Bake in a moderate oven (~180°C) for 40 minutes, until top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
precarious topping.JPG

This baking dish is so precariously full

How did it go?

The only thing that was really guessed/obvious was the lentils. I thought the “white sauce” had a noticeably cauliflower-like taste, but my parents absolutely couldn’t pick it. The only real criticism was that it lacked salt, and I’ve always been a bit light on with it – my parents suggested upping the stock powder to at least a teaspoon. So overall a success! 😉

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

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