Happy weekend, everyone!
I hope you started well so far? Isn't it nice outside.. I hope you are enjoying these lovely spring greens and the sun as much as I do!
Back in the days, when I used to lived in beautiful Vienna, we met up every now and then for cooking and watching a movie all together with a big bunch of friends. One of these friends asked me for a healthy recipe for a healthified 'burger lasagana'.
Okay, lasagna not a big challenge. Making a REALLY tasty lasagna - probably a bit harder. Then, keeping it clean, low carb, vegan, gluten free AND tasty - mission very possible (!) as you will see below :)
I am super proud to introduce you to my healthy food porn lasagna.
It is THE state of the art healthy lasagna.
As I said above, I kept it vegan and dairy free. It is noodle-less, low carb and gluten free as I used eggplant and zucchini for the lasagna plates. So, it is practically only made out of veggies. But if you are a cheese and meat lover feel free to add or swop with the ingredients. And I was super surprised how fast it was to make! I used fresh tomatoes to make my tomato sauce as I believe it is a lot more nutritious and richer in taste than a ready made tomato passata.
As everything it is healthy: Lots and lots of nutrients, minerals, vitamins from all the different kind of veggies... blablabla... Just make it - taste it and convince yourself!
Why no diary?
A little statement why I think diary products are not very healthy in general.
I am not vegan. Even though I cook many vegan recipes and dishes. To be honest, I really like chicken, fish and eggs (when they are organic!). However, I try to strictly avoid any kind of dairy products.
Dairy is not meant for humans.
Like most grains and gluten, dairy causes inflammatory responses in our bodies. Moreover, it is considered an acid food which raises our insulin level due to a high amount of milk sugar leading to sugar cravings. It was even found to cause congestion, digestive problem and acne.
Also the dairy industry is not what it used to be. Many hormones and antibiotics are given to the cows in order to prevent infection. These drugs go straight into the cows system as well as the milk. When you consume dairy products you are directly igesting the same antibiotics, hormones pesticides and steroids. Nevertheless, if you are a milk lover - for your own good please make sure that you only buy organic and grass fed milk.
Milk is meant for babies. Only babies.
And actually it is meant for baby cows. For humans drinking milk it is rather unnatural from an evolutionary point of view. Human milk is consumed during infancy. And after a certain time, the children naturally develop a lactose intolerance due to a decreasing amount of lactase (enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar) in our bodies. This makes dairy products indigestible for us humans.
My body feels best without any kind of dairy products. Once in a while I make exceptions as I love the taste of goats cheese. But in my daily routine I swop with dairy free vegan options.
Go plant-based! There are so many dairy-free alternatives. Oat milk, Soy milk, Almond milk, Cashew milk, Qunioa and Pistachio milk.. just to mention a few! You should try make your own too! Its a lot cheaper and tastes even better!
My Vegan Ricotta
The actual recipe was with ricotta cheese. But I experimented a bit and came up with a vegan version made out of cashew, pre-cooked cauliflower and olive oil.
I used the frozen cauliflower. I actually prefer to buy fresh veggies over frozen ones. However, when being in a rush they are great option as they are easy to portion and free from preservatives and additives compared to canned food. Most frozen fruits and veggies are frozen shortly after they have been picked from the fields. So, freezing also locks most of the nutrients and vitamins. If you use fresh cauliflower, make sure to steam it before blending.
ALL YOU NEED:
Lasagna platters and filling
- one large zucchini, thinly sliced
- one or two large eggplants, sliced
- two handful of organic mushrooms, sliced
- two cups baby spinach
- some fresh organic basil leaves
- Roasted sunflower seeds, for topping
Red Tomato Sauce
- 3-4 fresh organic tomatoes, washed and chopped
- one large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- one pinch of cinnamon
- 1/2 teasoon of turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon of garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon of Indian five spices called 'Panch Phoron' (you can get that mixture in any well assorted asian shop for a few pennies - it is a mixture cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek, black mustard seeds and nigella)
- 2-3 large tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil, perhaps a little more
- sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
Optional: add minced (organic!) meat or scrambled tofu for extra protein
- one big bowl of cauliflower, raw, steamed or thawed
- 1/2 cup Extra Vergine olive oil
- 1/2 cup of drained cashew nuts, soaked at least 30 minutes in luke warm water
- nutmeg and sea salt, to taste
Prepare the eggplant
Let rest for at least 30 minutes as a lot of water will be released from the eggplant
Then press out the excessive water from the slices.
before - and after
Best VEGAN Cashew Ricotta.
soak the cashews in luke warm water.
pulse the cauliflower until finely ground
Add the olive oil, soaked cashews and grated nutmeg
blend for at least 5 minutes until nicely smooth and creamy
Homemade tomato sauce -
loving it from ma head to-ma-toes.
skinny minny zuchhini
thinly slice the courgette
last but not least.
mushrooms, basil and spinach
1,2,3,4,5,6,7... step by step.
all about layering!
sprinkle with olive oil and cover with foil.
Its getting hot in here..
Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes
THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Lasagna platters
Place the sliced aubergines on a big board and sprinkle with sea salt. Let sit for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better. Don't be surprised there will be a lot of water coming out the eggplant. Carefully squeeze out the excess water from the platters and place onto a baking tray. In the oven at 180°C roast until the eggplant slices slowly starts to dry and become golden.
Thinly slice the zucchini. I chose not to pre-roast them in the oven as I sliced my super super thin with a shaver. If you don't manage to cut them that skinny, you may want to pre-roast them as well for about 10-15 minutes together with the eggplant.
2. Vegan Ricotta
In a food processor add the cauliflower and pulse until finely chopped. Add the olive oil and cashews and pulse again for at least 5-6 minutes. Only then you will get a nice and creamy texture. Season with salt and nutmeg.
3. Red Tomato Sauce
Fry the onion and garlic in oil until cooked. You may need to add a little more oil as the onion and garlic really needs to nicely FRY. Add the cinnamon, turmeric, marsala and five spices and let cook for about 2-3 minutes until the spices 'pop' and release a nice aroma. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Cover with a lid and let cook well until the tomatoes completely fall apart. You want get a nice 'mash'. At some point you need to add half a glass of water to get it saucy and creamy. Stir well. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
Start with a layer of tomato sauce just to make sure that the platters don't stick. Then continue with the following order:
- Tomato sauce
- Tomato sauce
- Basil leaves
- Vegan Ricotta
- Tomato sauce
Sprinkle with olive oil and cracked pepper. Cover with aluminium foil and cook in the oven at 180°C for about 35 minutes. For the last 10 minutes remove foil and increase heat to 200°C.
Let cool for a while. It will set and will be a lot easier to slice.
Serve with side salad and sprinkle with roasted sunflower seeds.
Make a head! It tastes even better the next day I found :)
Let the lasagna food porn begin!