I feel like I need to clear something up..what seems to be a common misconception among people I come across. I often post on my facebook page what I am cooking for dinner and 99% of the time it is things that I will eventually post on here. Finally I was asked by someone how I could ‘cook all that pasta and carbs’ and still be healthy? I was actually taken back by the question- So pasta, to you, is un-healthy? It’s true. A carbohydrate-rich diet can inflate appetite and your waistline. Carbs have gotten a bad rap with the fad popularity of low-carb diets that in reality only promote short-term weight loss.
So, let’s talk about the facts! Carbohydrates are the body’s most effective fuel for carrying out it’s functions. They supply the body with the energy needed for the muscles, brain and central nervous system. The human brain depends exclusively on carbohydrates for its energy. A brief chemistry lesson: during digestion, all carbohydrates are broken down into glucose before they can enter the bloodstream where insulin helps the glucose enter the body’s cells. Some glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles for future use, like fueling a workout. If there is extra glucose, the body will store it as fat. What is a Carbohydrate exactly?There are basically 2 main types of carbohydrates: Simple carbohydrates that are broken down and digested quickly and complex carbohydrates (also called starch) thart are structurally more complex and take longer to be broken down and digested. Unrefined or ‘whole grain’ carbohydrates found in products like brown rice, whole wheat pasta and bran cereals are digested slowly. They contain vitamins, minerals and fiber which promote health. These forms of carbohydrate would be your best bet. Fiber and nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and beans which are carbohydrates also have many important functions for the body and are important for good health. Simple carbs, complex carbs, and fiber are found in many foods. Carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, beans, dairy products, foods made from grain products, and sweeteners such as sugar, honey, molasses, and corn syrup.
In all reality, following an extremely low-carbohydrate diet is disastrous, dangerous, and more importantly- super boring! Carbohydrates are NOT the enemy. Including the appropriate amounts and types of carbohydrate-rich foods in your diet is essential for long-term health and weight loss or maintenance.
For this recipe I chose to use whole wheat noodles, and starchy squash as well as the not-so-startchy mushrooms and spinach. Fill up on these healthy whole grain CARBS and feel the satisfaction for both creating a healthy meal and feeding your brain the glucose it deserves
1 pound lean spicy chicken sausage, casings removed
4 cups mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, miced
1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 medium yellow zucchini squash
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (15 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
8 oz part-skim Mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to the package directions. Drain; return the noodles to the pot, cover with cool water and set aside. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add sausage and garlic; cook, crumbling until browned, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms, squash, and broth; cook, stirring occasionally and crumbling the sausage more, until it is cooked through, the broth has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to squeeze spinach well to remove excess water, then stir into the pan; remove from heat. Mix fire-roasted tomatoes and crushed tomatoes with basil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
To assemble lasagna: Spread 1/2 cup of the tomatoes in the prepared baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top. Evenly dollop 1 cup of the ricotta over the noodles. Top with half the sausage mixture, one-third of the remaining tomatoes and one-third of the mozzarella. Continue with another layer of noodles, the remaining ricotta, the remaining sausage, half the remaining tomatoes and half the remaining mozzarella. Top with a third layer of noodles and the remaining tomatoes. Cover the lasagna with foil and bake until bubbling and heated through, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the foil; sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is just melted but not browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 5 up to 1 day ahead. When baking, cook through for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.