You may wonder if it’s even possible to find a healthier choice for lasagna, since the typical lasagna includes layers of refined white pasta loaded with red meat draped in creamy sauces and oozing with cheese – mamma mia! But never forget that every food fits, and there is absolutely a way to maintain a healthy diet and still indulge in your favorite foods like lasagna.
When dining out, rely on nutrition information, whenever possible, to really know what you’re getting in a restaurant’s recipe – the numbers will vary widely depending on the types and amounts of ingredients used. To dramatically cut back on calories, set aside half of the lasagna portion for another day and pair your meal with a side salad for balance.
If you want to take it into your own hands and build a healthy lasagna from the ground up, try playing dietitian in the kitchen! Follow these simple guidelines to maximize the health of every delicious layer:
- The Noodles: Whole grain lasagna noodles are available in grocery stores now, even in the convenient no-boil variety! And if you’re looking for even fewer calories and carbs, you can try forgoing the pasta altogether and substituting vegetables instead. Planks of zucchini or eggplant work well, and they’ll get you a step closer to your 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies!
- The Sauce: For the healthiest store-bought sauce, look for jars with less sodium and no added sugar. The sauce is also a good place to squeeze in some extra veggies, whether you stick to the basics like simmering in a little extra onion and garlic or get sneaky with pureed squash or sweet potato.
- The Fillings: Meat lovers can cut calories by choosing proteins with lower fat content, like lean beef or ground chicken or turkey breast. Go a little easier on the cheese and pump up the flavor with lots of fresh veggies: mushrooms, peppers, onions, spinach, kale, eggplant, zucchini, and all of your other favorites will make your healthy lasagna dreams into reality!
Don’t forget to look for these same variations at restaurants! Many chefs are answering the call for healthier versions of these kinds of favorite foods.