Sunday, May 9, 2010

Big Healthy Family Dinner #5 - Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna

Last night we had some friends over that are, sadly, fleeing the Cleve for sunnier skies.  Their move is especially sad for this Healthy Girl because they are friends that I felt unusually comfortable trying new healthy recipes out on.  Why? Because my friend is the (soon to be former) director of the Lifestyle 180 program at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, headed up by Dr. Michael Roizen himself .  So I could always count on them to understand my healthy ways in the kitchen and not turn their nose up!

If you are wondering what the heck the Lifestyle 180 program is, check out these links:

And, dinner was just as I suspected! My guests were willing and appreciative. I will sorely miss them!

Challah and Grape Juice
Green Salad with Roasted Asparagus and Orange Miso Dressing
Raw Kale Salad
Vegan Cholent (Bean and Potato Stew made in a crock pot)
Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna
Raw Mango Cheese Cake

Additionally, for the kids:
Rice Pilaf
Healthy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna
From The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn
serves 10-12

1 onion, chopped
1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 head broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
1 package firm tofu
1/2 tsp cayanne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 jars pasta sauce
1 12 oz. box whole grain lasagna noodles
16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 roma tomatoes, sliced thin
1 cup raw cashews, ground

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain the tofu and wrap in paper towels. Set aside while you begin the recipe.        Saute the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a nonstick pan. (I used 1 tsp of olive oil to saute in, but veggie broth could be substituted here.)  Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid (mine never did). Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon.  Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan (I put some veggie broth in the pan at this point because my mushrooms didn't leave any liquid).
Saute the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl.  Saute the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl. Unwrap the tofu and crumble the tofu into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and stir to combine everything.

To assemble:
Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13 inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy!  Spread the entire vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles.  Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce.  Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles.  Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes.  Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce.  Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes.

Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews (I ground them in a mini Cuisinart), and return to the oven for 15 minutes.  Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.                                                          Note: I actually used a staineless steel pan that is larger than 9x13. It's an heirloom that I received when my Grandma Freda passed away. I really don't know how all of the lasagna would have fit into a regular 9x13, so if that is what you are working with, just be a little cautious when you are loading the pan with the ingredients. You may end up with some leftover filling that would be great served over brown rice! 

Well, that's it for the photos of the lasagna. It's a great dish to make if you are feeding a large crowd or you want to have leftovers for days and days.  The adults at the dinner really loved the lasagna, but I don't think a single kid went near it.  They could sense it was just too healthy! I really appreciate how hearty it is and guilt free at the same time. Now that gets the Healthy Girl stamp of approval!
The Mango Cake dessert that I served was one of my first raw vegan dessert attempts from the e-book Just Desserts: Nutritious, Delicious Raw Delights by Heather Pace. Heather has a wonderful blog where she shares countless raw dessert creations. I have found that when I endulge in a dessert made from ingredients like dates, nuts, fruit, organic raw cacoa and agave syrup instead of processed flour, white sugar and butter it does not have the same effect on my system or psyche. Processed desserts (for lack of a better way of describing them) leave me wanting more simple sugar for days until the stuff is out of my system, whereas raw desserts just do not. They are delicious, but I don't have to fight the leftovers off. Plus, everyone at the dinner loved it. So we all win! I get to eat dessert, so do my guests, and my diet doesn't get messed up for days because of it.


Anonymous said...

Love the blog, but do you have permission from Rip to post his recipes?

Wendy said...

Great question! The answer is yes! You can read all about that in a posting from last week. I try to be very careful about intellectual property rights.

Lori said...

Wendy, I am making the vegan Cholent is the crock pot and cooking away! Never heard of cholent before, never made it, but your brother says he loves it. I would love more recipes in the crock pot. makes life easier. love you! lori

Wendy said...

Fabulous Lori! And can I highly recommend this vegan lasagna the next time you have over a crowd. I just ate the leftovers for dinner again and it just gets better and better and better. You can make it days in advance and then let it sit in your fridge. When you have the party, just reheat it in the oven. Holy cow is it yummy.

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