A Snowy Night Recipe: Healthy Butternut Squash Lasagna Recipe

healthy butternut squash lasagna recipe

Sometimes you just want something that’s warm and comforting, yet healthy and healing. Popular belief may have you believing that this is a paradox. There’s no way you can enjoy comfort food without the unhealthy factor.

But why not? Why does it have to be all or nothing? Can’t we find that balance of creating and enjoying a dish that’s worth every single bite because it’s not only delicious, but our bodies are absorbing countless nutritional benefits?

healthy lasagna recipeI think so. Actually, let me rephrase that into a ABSOLUTELY! If you know me, you know that I’m not one for that dreaded “d-word” (diet… ugh, it even sounds horrible!) I prefer “living a healthy lifestyle.” It’s about enjoying your life in a way that also supports your life. What does that mean?

Well, if you want to enjoy a radiant glow that makeup just can’t provide, you want to feed your insides a daily dose of healthy nutrients. Or if you want to keep your energy up in the afternoon, you need to provide your body with long lasting, healthy carbohydrates that will provide energy long after you’ve eaten.

Get my drift?

With that thinking in mind, I also don’t deprive myself. Instead, I turn my favorite dishes into healthier versions of themselves that often times taste better because my body feels better after eating them.

healthy butternut squash lasagna recipe
A little picture to show you the easiest way to chop that butternut squash!

Ok, enough talk… on to the food. I love lasagna… I love butternut squash… when you put them together it’s poetic. I used less cheese and subbed out ricotta for some low fat Greek yogurt and then loaded up on the veggies. The result is an even creamier sauce that you could imagine that’s layered with spinach. I hope you enjoy it!

healthy butternut squash lasagna
I’m sorry this picture stinks, but we ate it so fast I didn’t remember to take a picture till the last piece!

Healthy Butternut Squash Lasagna Recipe
Serves 4-6 (depending on how hungry you are!)

1 lb Butternut Squash (cubed and peeled)
1 Onion
2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
4-6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1 tablespoon hot pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 package lasagna noodles (I did no cook because I was lazy that evening, but you can do what you’re heart desires)
Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Bake the butternut squash in the oven at 375F until fork tender, about 45-60 minutes.

Meanwhile saute the spinach and finely chopped onion in a pan until the onions are translucent. Grate some fresh nutmeg right into that beautiful mixture. Let cool, then add salt and pepper to taste, a sprinkle of hot pepper, and the mozzarella cheese.

When the butternut squash is cooked, place in a food processor with a drizzle of olive oil (enough to start making a paste). Let cool for a few minutes then add the yogurt, sage, salt, pepper, red pepper, and more olive oil until it becomes a little thinner than a hummus like consistency. Once blended smooth, add about a 1/2 cup vegetable stock (enough to make the consistency like that of a thicker sauce).

In a lasagna pan, place some of the butternut squash sauce on the bottom of the pan, enough to cover it. (Note: If you’re using the no boil lasagna sheets, you may need to loosen your sauce even more because they need the water in the sauce to cook in the oven). Layer on the lasagna sheets. Then layer on the spinach and mozzarella cheese mixture and lasagna sheets. Continue layering until the top layer and cover with the remaining butternut squash mixture. Sprinkle with some mozzarella cheese and cover the pan with foil.

Bake at 375F for 40 minutes, then uncover, bake for another 15 minutes, and let rest outside the oven for another 10 minutes. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and you’ve got a winner!

Enjoy!

My Visit to Stone Barns

It’s been a dream of mine, well I mean something that I needed to check off the list, ever since I read Dan Barber’s book The Third Plate. I didn’t agree with everything he had to say, but I thought it was a start. I mean, what we’re eating, how we’re eating, and how fast we’re eating it is not sustainable. And if you think it is, take a look at the big picture.

What We Would Love to See, However, it's Not True in Today's Large Farming Culture
What We Would Love to See, However, it’s Not True in Today’s Large Farming Culture

American’s eat, on average, 210.8¬†pounds of meat including red meat, chicken,and turkey¬†per year, per person. It may be lower than the all time high (ever recorded) of 220.2 pounds in 2004, but seriously, that’s still a lot. Do you know how many animals it takes to make that many pounds? Well according to Slaughterhouse, there’s about 500 pounds of meat per cow and about 40-45% of each slaughtered animal is used for meat. Which means, a single cow can be used to make over 2,000 quarter pounders and a typical American eats about 280 of those per year. (I know you’re most likely not eating quarter pounders, but give me a break on the math).

The point? All these animals that are being used for slaughter are not only living in horrible conditions (I won’t touch on that here, but you can look it up yourself), but they’re also responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from ALL transportation. Basically, all those lovely farts from those cute animals, are causing major problems for the environment, not just our health. There are some other great facts here if you’re looking for more information.

Ok, so what about organic? What if I’m a vegetarian? Vegan? Isn’t that helping the planet just a little bit more? Isn’t organic farming what nature intended? Yes and no. We all know that our ancestors were hunter and gatherers, searching for berries, wild vegetables, and then hunting the latest game, every single day. It wasn’t until 10,000 – 13,000 years ago that the domestication of animals first began. Yes, a long time ago. Then soon, villages began cultivating grains, figs in the Jordan Valley, and squash in Mexico. Keep going and soon the potato in South American began being harvested along with tobacco. Natural fertilizers were used and farmers really had to work with the environment. Droughts, torrential rain, and more.

Then came The Green Revolution, which increased agriculture production around the world, modernizing techniques and expanding the distribution of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The good part? Many lives were saved from starvation as yields increased dramatically. The bad part? It was also the start of rice, corn, and wheat providing 60% of the human food supply and monoculture.

monokulturaSo the question is this – we have a situation where people don’t know what to eat that will help save the world while keeping them healthy. Organic is a great option. Backyard growing even better. Buying in season produce from local farmers – right on. However, not everyone can do that and with issues like the California drought, what do people do when watering their backyard vegetables is in conflict with a ever decreasing water supply? And that’s just in America. The population of the Earth continues to rise and feeding everyone without using excess fuel, emitting large amounts of greenhouse gasses and promoting monoculture – can it work? I don’t know.

Stone BarnsBack to Stone Barns. Barber has made a name for himself as a chef that not only cooks with the seasons, but cooks with ingredients that are in season, locally to his restaurant, while also using techniques that promote using every piece of the land, preserving the land, feeding the land, and leaving it better off then when he stepped on it.

This beautiful and peaceful setting includes pasture raised pigs, geese, sheep, and chickens; a half-acre green house; bee hives; and a hilly vegetable plot. Take a walk by yourself and hop on any one of the tours. If you’ve got (a lot of) cash in your wallet, you can book a reservation at the famous Blue Hill at Stone Barns where Chef Barber creates dinners that are especially tailored the the diner and the season. (One day.)

 

The Greenhouse at Stone Barns
The Greenhouse at Stone Barns

As we enjoyed the tour, our knowledgeable guide continued to share Stone Barns philosophy that the system must always give back. That struck me. We take. We take the carrots from the ground, we take the eggs from the chickens that stomp and poop on the ground, and we take the water from the rivers, lakes, and streams. But, what do we actually give back?

I think that’s the answer to our problems in more ways than one.

What do we give back?

When we chop a tree down, do we plant another one in its place? When we dig up the soil to plant and harvest vegetables to nourish ourselves and our families, do we in turn take the time to put nourishment back into the soil? If we just took the time to give back, maybe we’d have a bigger appreciation for what we’re taking and we would only take what we needed to stay healthy and vibrant.

So when you’re confused about what to eat for dinner, what to feed your family, how those who are not as fortunate as you are are surviving, and how the planet will support the increasing population of people – figure out how you can give back to Mother Earth. It may not be The Third Plate, but it’s a philosophy that’s all encompassing.

Enjoying Nature and Giving Back
Enjoying Nature and Giving Back