Guest post from our friend (and member!) Kate at Life of A Ginger, one of our blog faves!

The past few months have been extremely busy with after school activities and work, so we have eaten A LOT of convenience foods. Boxed or frozen dinners that tend to be high in sodium and preservatives and low in nutrients.

So, like most everyone in January, I decided it’s time to get healthy and eat better. This time I decided I’m not doing it by myself, but will also include the whole family. It’s so much easier to stick to a healthy meal plan when you only have to prepare one meal for everyone.

One thing that has made this decision much easier in my very busy life is The Produce Box. The Produce Box is a wonderful service here in North Carolina that brings fresh produce, meats, dairy, and bakery items directly from North Carolina farmers and small business owners, right to your door. Each week there is a different selection, depending on what’s available and in season, and unlike a CSA, you choose exactly what, and how much, you want to purchase. It’s like a farmer’s market, brought right to your door.

Something else that assisted me considerably with my meal planning and “healthyfing” everyday recipes (that my kids will actually eat) is Facebook. I’ve found a few fabulous groups where I not only discovered a plethora of healthier and interesting recipes, I also discovered Meatless Monday.

“Meatless Monday is part of the Healthy Monday initiative. Research conducted by Johns Hopkins concludes that health promotions utilizing…the unique cultural associations of Monday as the beginning of the week, have the potential to positively affect a range of healthy behaviors. People view Monday as a day for a fresh start and are more likely to starts diets and exercise regimes, quit smoking, and schedule doctor’s appointments on Monday than any other day. And a Monday start helps them carry out their healthy intentions for the week.” — Healthy Monday initiative
I have become much more aware of the meals I’m preparing for my family. We are buying fewer convenience items, bringing home more fresh fruits and vegetables, and cooking more from scratch meals. I’ve started eating more salads when I need something quick to make that I can eat while I’m working, instead of grabbing some chips and mindlessly snacking at the computer.

I’ve also started incorporating more fresh vegetables with our meals, like substituting zoodles (zucchini noodles) for pasta. Serving smaller portions of proteins like chicken, pork, and beef and adding a stirfry of chopped veggies. I will also swap out the meat in a main dish for something else, like using chickpeas in place of chicken when I make curry.

This past week The Produce Box sent me a fresh supply of vegetables perfect for a vegetarian lasagna.

Fresh veggies from The Produce Box

Vegetarian Lasagna

I’d never made a vegetarian lasagna before, but I had a good idea of how I wanted to put it together. Fresh, made from scratch tomato sauce, goat cheese instead of ricotta, no boil lasagna noodles, and of course, lots of fresh veggies.
I decided to go the extra mile and roast the vegetables before making the lasagna. I love the way roasted vegetables taste and thought it would give the dish a more interesting flavor. They smelled so good in the oven I knew I made the correct choice!

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Ready to roast

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Roasted vegetables

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Ready to assemble

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 inch pan. (P.S. This tomato sauce is so easy to make and delicious. My girls kept dipping their bread in the sauce. I actually had to make more to finish the lasagna!)

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Place a layer of no-boil lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the pan.

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Top with tomato sauce.

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Continue layering until all ingredients are used, ending with a top of cheese and tomato sauce.

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Spread a layer of vegetables, cheese mixture and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Final layer should just be cheese and tomato sauce. Cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Uncover, and top with some extra Parmesan, and mozzarella, if desired. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Meatless Monday Featuring The Produce Box: Vegetarian Lasagna

Mmmmm

 

Vegetarian Lasagna

Print Shopping List
Preparation30m
Cook Time60m
Serves 18

Ingredients:
Roasted Vegetables:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Penzeys Italian Herb Mix (oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary)
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
6 small multi colored carrots, sliced
1 Stokes purple sweet potato, sliced
Tomato Sauce:
2 – 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp dehydrated minced onion (or 1 small onion, minced)
1 tsp basil
2 tsp Penzeys Italian Herb Mix (oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme and rosemary)
1 tsp garlic and herb no salt seasoning
if needed, 1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
For Lasagna:
1 (16 ounce) package no boil lasagna noodles
2 eggs
12 ozs crumbled goat cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
16 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
 

Instructions:
Roasted Vegetables:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, carrots, and sweet potato with olive oil, and 2 teaspoons Italian herb mix.
  3. Lay on baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until soft, but not mushy.

While the veggies are in the oven make the tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce:

  1. Add olive oil and red pepper flakes to a medium saucepan, cook over medium high heat until aromatic.
  2. Add dehydrated onion (if using fresh chopped onion, add and stir until they begin to “sweat” or become translucent.).
  3. Turn heat to low, and slowly pour in canned crushed tomatoes.
  4. Add basil, Penzeys Italian Herb Mix, and garlic and herb no salt seasoning, stir.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cook for 15-30 minutes so the flavors can meld.
  7. Cool slightly before assembling lasagna.

For Lasagna:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix goat cheese, shredded mozzarella, grated Parmesan, and eggs.
  3. Spread a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 13×9 inch pan. (I always use a glass pan for tomato-based recipes. I feel like a metal pan alters the taste somewhat.)
  4. Place a layer of no-boil lasagna noodles to cover the bottom of the pan.
  5. Spread a layer of vegetables, cheese mixture, sliced fresh mozzarella, and tomato sauce.
  6. Continue layering until all ingredients are used, ending with a top of cheese and tomato sauce.
  7. Cover pan with aluminum foil.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Uncover, and top with some extra Parmesan, and mozzarella, if desired.
  9. Bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.
  10. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

 

Recipe Notes: The tomato sauce in this recipe is delicious and so easy to make. It’s ready in just a few minutes and so much healthier than jarred sauce!
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