By Gabriella Lozada
Embrace your Wellness
This week’s installment: Vegetarianism
Vegetarianism and Veganism has become a very popular life choice recently; more and more people are changing their diets. Many make this change because of health, environmental and ethical concerns, dislike of meat, non-violent beliefs, compassion for animals, and economics. Vegetarians are those who don’t eat meat, fish, and poultry. Veganism is not eating anything that has animal product in it such as dairy and eggs. The key to having a healthy vegetarian diet is eating a variety of nutritious foods, but also keeping up with your protein intake. You can become vegetarian instantly or gradually when changing to the diet. There is no right or wrong way to do it; it’s all about your personal preference.
Meat, fish, and poultry are main sources of protein. When you become vegetarian, it is crucial that you eat other sources of protein and maintain a balanced diet. If you don’t maintain a balanced, you can lose muscles mass, strength, and lose weight. Other sources of protein include beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, tofu, chickpeas, tempeh (a soy bread), etc. Common foods such as whole grains, greens, potatoes, and corn can quickly add protein to your daily intake.
If you would like to try out this diet, here is a recipe for a Veggie Lasagna from the website Cookie and Kate.
Veggies and spinach
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 large carrots, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 to 6 ounces baby spinach
Tomato sauce (or substitute 2 cups prepared marinara sauce)
- 2 cups (16 ounces) low-fat cottage cheese, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 9 no-boil lasagna noodles*, preferably whole wheat
- 8 ounces (2 cups) freshly grated low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- To prepare the veggies: In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the carrots, bell pepper, zucchini, yellow onion, and salt. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the veggies are golden on the edges, about 8 to 12 minutes.
- Add a few large handfuls of spinach. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach has wilted. Repeat with remaining spinach and cook until all of the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, to prepare the tomato sauce: Pour the tomatoes into a mesh sieve or fine colander and drain off the excess juice for a minute. Then, transfer the drained tomatoes to the bowl of a food processor. Add the basil, olive oil, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
- Pulse the mixture about 10 times, until the tomatoes have broken down to an easily spreadable consistency. Pour the mixture into a bowl for later (you should have a little over 2 cups sauce). Rinse out the food processor and return it to the machine.
- Pour half of the cottage cheese (1 cup) into the processor and blend it until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to large mixing bowl. No need to rinse out the bowl of the food processor this time; just put it back onto the machine because you’ll need it later.
- Transfer the cooked veggies and spinach mixture to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until they are more finely chopped (but not puréed!), about 5 to 7 times, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of whipped cottage cheese. Top with the remaining cottage cheese, then add ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt (to taste) and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Now it’s lasagna assembly time!
- Spread ½ cup tomato sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9” by 9” baking dish. Layer 3 lasagna noodles on top (snap off their ends to fit, and/or overlap their edges as necessary). Spread half of the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Top with ¾ cup tomato sauce, then sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheese on top.
- Top with 3 more noodles, followed by the remaining cottage cheese mixture (we’re skipping the tomato sauce in this layer.) Sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheese on top.
- Top with 3 more noodles, then spread ¾ cup tomato sauce over the top (you may have a little sauce leftover) to evenly cover the noodles. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded cheese.
- Wrap a sheet of parchment paper around the top of the lasagna (or cover the lasagna with aluminum foil, but don’t let the foil touch the cheese). Bake, covered, for 18 minutes, then remove the cover, rotate the pan by 180° and continue cooking for about 10 to 12 more minutes, until the top is turning spotty brown.
- Remove from oven and let the lasagna cool for 15 to 20 minutes, so it has time to set and cool down to a reasonable temperature. Sprinkle additional basil over the top, then slice and serve.
For more recipes, here is the website: