Healthy-ish Lasagna

Something I sometimes struggle with since I’ve drastically changed my eating habits over the last couple years is having friends stay with me or people over for dinner.

I don’t tend to have “typical” food in my house. I have food that’s typical to the blogging world but not so much to visitors.

For example, you won’t find the following in my fridge or cupboards:

  • cereal, of any kind (we are oatmeal people!)
  • 2% milk (or rarely 1% milk, we usually buy Almond Milk)
  • any juice or pop other then gatorade
  • kraft dinner
  • poultry, pork or beef
  • creamy salad dressings
  • “normal” (i.e. sugary) yogurt
  • chips (other then tortilla chips)

What will you find? Lots of fruits and veggies, beans, salsa, greek yogurt, oatmeal (so much oatmeal), rice, almond milk, eggs, whole wheat bread and pitas, veggie burgers, chia seeds etc.

Even Webster likes to be healthy and drink green smoothies! 😀

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Well, tonight a friend of mine and Eric’s from FSJ came over for dinner. Tom just moved down to Kamloops for school so I thought I’d invite him over to our place for dinner since he’s new to town!

I wasn’t sure what to make because I didn’t know if our typical meals (veggie stirfys, veggie burgers, salads etc.) would be appealing to him. So I decided to go with a staple:

Lasagna

Slightly healthified of course 😀

So here is what I made for dinner. It’s a combination of these two recipes.

Ingredients:

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  • 1 package of lasagna noodles
  • 2 containers ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded marble cheese
  • 1.5 cans of tomato sauce
  • Approx. 5-6 cups of frozen, chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg
  • chopped garlic to taste
  • oregano to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 packages of meatless ground beef

I used this fake ground beef that’s been in our freezer for a couple of months. I don’t use fake meats often because I gave up meat for a reason, the idea of eating it grosses me out, so I don’t feel the need to use it.

Looks real, eh?

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OK, so you brown the “beef” in a pan and add the onions, garlic and tomato sauce. In the meantime, cook the noodles as per the instructions on the box.

In a separate bowl mix the ricotta cheese, spinach, egg and cheddar cheese.

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Now comes the lasagna forming part.

Start with the noodles:

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Then the sauce and cheese mixture:

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And repeat.

Then sprinkle the parmesan on top:

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Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Put tinfoil or a cover on for the first 30 minutes of baking.

All done:

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This recipe made that pan plus another small pan – so we have lots of yummy leftovers. I forgot to take a picture of my plate but we ate this with salad and garlic toast. Yum!

Also, I didn’t tell Tom it was fake “ground beef” until he’d finished eating and he claims he didn’t even notice. Yay!

This actually isn’t really healthy at all. I think the fake “ground beef” makes it healthier as there’s not a lot of fat in it and the spinach definitely adds nutrients. I also only used 1/2 cup of shredded cheese instead of a full cup like both recipes called for. So while it wasn’t exactly healthy it also wasn’t too terrible.

Anyone else struggle with cooking for guests or having people stay with them because they have “weird” food in the house?

34 Responses

  1. H-woman says:

    I find it cuts down on house guests.

    Or they suggest that we go out to eat, their treat!

    =)

  2. You’re much like me! In our house you usually won’t find:

    – cheese
    – bread of any kind
    – white rice
    – desserts of any kind
    – potatoes (unless they are the sweet or red variety)
    – yogurt
    – pasta

    So yeah that totally makes you change the way you eat. But in a good way!

  3. Caz says:

    This is so funny because that’s similar to my problem when having people over for dinner! We tend to eat A LOT of unusual/ethnic/healthy/’gourmet’ foods. I’m always wondering what to cook when people come over. Luckily our friends are pretty adventurous too.

    That being said, James and I have very different eating habits. We do have whole milk, & regular cheese for him.

    People are always most surprised that we “never have anything to drink”. James and I don’t drink pop or juice so our fridge only has milk, water, beer and wine in it. One set of couple friends actually bring juice over when they come since they know we don’t have it 🙂

    We never have ‘processed food’ either. Sometimes we’ll especially buy chips if we know we’re having guests over, but I hate the taste of them myself now. But if we want cookies we make them. If we want granola bars, we make them. I’d say besides condiments, we rarely have any processed food in the house.

  4. steph anne says:

    Wow, I don’t think I could ever survive at your house but that’s sad I’m saying that. I definitely would love to make changes to how I eat but I can’t expect that to happen overnight especially when I want it to be a lifestyle change.

  5. Ashley says:

    It looks delicious! I feel weird having people stay with me, because I don’t really cook and I don’t keep much food on hand that other people would like.

  6. Heather says:

    Please come redo my pantry!

  7. Megan says:

    Mmm, that lasagna sounds good!

    We don’t keep junk food in our house. (Neither of us are fans of candy or things with tons of sugar.) We actually have almond milk AND 2% in our fridge. (I was lactose intolerant growing up, so the almond milk is better on my stomach, and we use 2% for cooking and Husband uses it for cereal.) The only cereals we have in our pantry are Wheaties and Kashi Go Lean, and we also have oatmeal. We also only have water and orange juice in our house. We don’t drink sodas anymore.

    While not everything in our cabinets/fridge are healthy, we’re definitely working on it! 🙂

  8. abbi says:

    I don’t think we eat that weird in our house but I do tend to have this problem when having my husband’s family over to eat. They like the same things for holidays, etc. and I like to try new things. I used to worry about it, but eventually just got over it…it’s good to have other people try new things!

  9. Emily Jane says:

    That Webster picture is the best ever!! Haha, I have one of Rose doing it but only with a glass of water. What a healthy little cat 🙂

    I usually go out and buy food specially when we’re entertaining, because we tend to keep a pretty healthy house too – but I’ve converted D to fake ground beef for shepherd’s pies! 🙂

  10. Kyla Roma says:

    Well it might not be the healthiest meal of your week, but it looks delicious! 🙂

  11. I don’t mind the dinners- I do ok with that. But it’s the snacky stuff I struggle with. I don’t often have tortilla chips or desserts laying around unless I’ve planned ahead and had a major baking session… I have, however, learned to always have beer on hand for such events (not my drink of choice, but often my guy friends aren’t fond of wine or vodka- lol).

  12. BostonRunner says:

    Great idea! I’ve had this problem all my life – both going to people’s houses for dinner and having them to mine (though I rarely have people over, yet). I was always a picky eater growing up so I pretty much never liked anything anyone had. I felt bad because they would always want to make something special for me and I didn’t want them to have to go through the trouble.
    I’d say you did a nice job though, lasagna looks great!

  13. Nora says:

    Try having people over and/or going to eat some where when you have crazy allergies 😉

    When I live alone I tend not to have a lot of food in my house either so I’ll just go buy whatever it is I need/want for dinner. I tend to fall back on things like risotto + spicy chicken with broccoli, or healthful pasta (seriously whole wheat fiber rich penne + broccoli + grilled chicken = yum, especially with a smidge of parmesan cheese dabble on top!).

    The lasagna looks delicious. Glad it went well!

  14. debbie says:

    My problem lives IN my house… and I’m not going to kick him out! My husband can’t live without sweet desserts, ice cream, chips, chocolate bars, cheese, fatty red meat, etc. There’s just no way that’s going to change.

    I have to look past these things every single day and try to eat healthy despite what he is eating. It’s a challenge for sure!

  15. mandy says:

    The lasagna looks incredibly delicious. I havent made lasagna in ages but do enjoy it on occassion. We always have a pantry and freezer full of stuff to make food with, its just deciding what to make.

  16. LG says:

    The lasagna looks good…

    We keep a lot of “healthy” things in our house (but I still have my cupboard of chocolate all to myself…) and it doesn’t seem to clash with us having company. To us, being intentional about having people over for meals is really important, so I try to cater to what people may like (or are allergic to). We keep frozen cans of juice mix around to make on a moment’s notice and I keep some baking in the freezer to pull out whenever. We have some “go-to” meals – a lasgana casserole, pizza, or something barbecued, plus a salad. Low-key but ususally satisfying, and…if I’m cooking, I get to decide whether to use some low-fat ingredients or leave a bowl of ceasar dressing on the side instead of pouring a bunch on and mixing it in. My issues around food are generally being worried about having to eat a large meal and then being served a large piece of cake or something and feeling like I have to eat it, then feeling guilty or bingeing afterwards “because I’ve already blown it”. It’s much easier when folks come over because I let everyone serve themselves and then bring out a plate of squares and fruit, so that nobody (including me!) feels like they have to eat portions that are set out for them by someone else.

    Also! I find that most of our couple friends appreciate healthy choices as much as we do, especially if they are yummy. I recently served some of those “Food Should Taste Good” chip crackers from Costco (get some if you can – they are AWESOME), and though they are “healthy”, everyone loved them and asked where I got them. In my mind, healthy food should taste and look as good or better as less-healthy choices. For casual get-togethers (like a Bible study or Nintendo night), I put out one less healthy choice like cookies, and one healthy choice like carrots and dip, because folks seem to like both! I know I do. :0)

  17. Stephany says:

    We don’t have visitors over often, but when we do, we always use the night to have a sort of “laid back” night (OK, a CHEAT NIGHT!) It’s just easier to know when I’m having a guest and cooking them their favorite meal, or something they like. It’s usually semi-healthy but we also eat meat, so that makes it a little easier for us.

    I wouldn’t say we have too much weird food right now, just normal healthy stuff.

  18. I just don’t invite people over!! Haha… but seriously, I can’t remember the last time I cooked for someone. This makes me think of visiting my dad though — years ago when I would stay there I thought their food was “freaky”, now it’s on-par with what’s in my own kitchen!

  19. Tammy says:

    YUMMY!!!!

    Amber that lasagna looks SO good!! Even though a little heavy on the not so good ingredients, you don’t eat like that everyday!

    I find that I am the one with the ‘weird’ foods when our parents come to visit. I don’t eat meat and potatoes, and both our parents… well that was a staple for them (and for us growing up)

    Things you don’t find in my cupboards:
    kraft dinner
    chips
    chocolate
    white or whole wheat bread (only like the 1000 grain stuff)
    cheese
    farmed fish
    white pasta

    I am sure there are more things that I don’t have. And the reason I don’t have most of this stuff is because I LOVE IT! Well minus the KD and farmed fish.

    So when Kris’s parents come to visit, I made them eggplant Parmesan with a pasta and veggie side. The closest thing to meat and potatoes.
    I have not read the book eating animals (on my list of things to do)
    I would have to say that the hardest people to cook for (company wise) is our parents. Most of our friends are up for trying anything new!

    Great post Ambular!!

    xo
    tam.

  20. Michaela says:

    We are have the same issue! We don’t have any meat in the house, no soda, no cereals, no frozen food, no Pop Tarts — basically nothing you’d find in the “regular” grocery store.

    We’ve only had one person over for dinner. Luckily, she is a runner, too, so I just made some pasta with fresh tomatoes from our garden — turned out great!

  21. Michaela says:

    We have the same issue! We don’t have any meat in the house, no soda, no cereals, no frozen food, no Pop Tarts — basically nothing you’d find in the “regular” grocery store.

    We’ve only had one person over for dinner. Luckily, she is a runner, too, so I just made some pasta with fresh tomatoes from our garden — turned out great!

  22. Lisa says:

    That kitty picture cracks me up!!! How funny!

  23. Looks delish to me! I love lasagna as it makes the best leftovers!

    I don’t have normal food in my house either. I don’t have any wheat products, so for snacks I can offer guests rice crackers, pickles, or tortilla chips/salsa… I also don’t have soda in my fridge. I don’t have beer in my fridge unless I have advanced warning and bought it for my guest since I can’t have it. My fridge is always sort of ‘sad’ looking because I dont’ over-buy as I hate to throw things out and I dont’ really buy much that is non-perishable, you know? So I totally know what you mean!

    I sort of struggle when I have people over for dinner becuase I am worried they will taste that things are ‘gluten free’. Like pasta. But I have found a good GF pasta that I think tastes like the real deal…

  24. Jaime Runs says:

    YUM That looks awesome. We usually go out to dinner rather than make something but I think that your recipe looks to be much healthier than anything you would get at an Italian restaurant.

  25. nicole says:

    that looks tasty!

  26. Kelly says:

    In my house, my food is weird and Eric’s is more normal, so I just have him serve/cook for houseguests haha. Though I’m not much of a hostess anyways so we usually go out to eat. My college roommate stays for the weekend sometimes, but she eats almost the same as me after living together 4 years. I’ll buy a couple of extra things if she’s coming but nothing too different than my normal food.

  27. Leigh says:

    Your lasagna looks so yummy even with the faux “beef” in it.

    We are trying to eat healthier, but it’s hard. Especially when your husband loves bad things like chips, etc. But then again soda is in our house because I am addicted to Diet Coke and just can’t seem to kick the habit..

  28. Lots of people in the southern US drink soda (all of which they call “coke”, SO confusing), and I don’t. If you come to my house you can have water or coffee, end of story.

  29. Lo says:

    Yummo! Sign me up – could you freeze some and mail it to me?

  30. I struggle more with the person living in the house with me than I do strangers. J isn’t really that into eating healthy. He’s hypoglycemic so he’s lucky in that he has a fast metabolism. I, on the other hand, have a normal metabolism so I have to watch what I eat. J is also a very picky eater and doesn’t tend to like “healthy” foods. I like everything, which is both good and bad; I just try to make the healthier choice most of the time. I’m slowly trying to convince him to eat healthy.

  31. I have all kinds of food in my house, weird, not weird … everything! It is never a struggle. I eat a wide variety, including Kraft Dinner because I LOVE it!

  32. Stephanie says:

    Looks tasty! But i struggle to understand why you use disposable trays to cook your food. I thought, given your awesome outlook on food and exersice you would also be big on reducing waste and being good to the environment. Even if it can be recycled it still needed to be manufactured. And to purchase something everytime, where you could spend more and get a reusable one that would last a life time. I just don’t get it i suppose.
    So consider this a friendly poke in the ribs. I understand that this is a nation wide phenomina (i lived in the states for 6 yerars). I doubt you can even buy such things in the UK (easily). Anyway…. just thought you could be as good to the environment as you are to your body. 🙂

    • MissAmber says:

      Hey Stephanie – thanks for your comment.

      I picked up disposable trays because we don’t have a pan that works for lasagna and it was kind of a last minute decision to make it. I will say, however, that I reuse my disposable trays and the two you see in the pictures are currently washed and sitting under my stove waiting for the next time I make lasagna or something like it. I will likely reuse them 3-5 times each before I throw them away.

      Maybe not ideal, but I don’t have the $30-$50 to spend on a lasagna pan right now when I rarely make it.

  33. shoshanah says:

    This reminds me of the Amy’s frozen lasagna that I’ve love. I think mainly because it has spinach in it. I love the way it tastes, but I’ve never actually tried making lasagna with spinach in it, but eventually I’m sure it would be a good idea to try!