Earlier this week, I appeared on The Steve Harvey Show talking about pasta swaps. There are a lot of really great vegetables you can use in place of traditional spaghetti, orzo and lasagna.
Glutenous foods like pasta, bread, wraps and crackers can create an inflammatory response in the body. Not everyone is intolerant of gluten, but a great many of us are sensitive to them. If you already have weight to lose and eat inflammatory foods, shedding the pounds becomes an uphill battle. Cutting out inflammatory foods is a great way to put your body on the fast track to not just losing weight, but feeling great, too!
I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of eggplant. There are dozens of other vegetables I’d rather eat. But when I served this lasagna to my family, not only could they not tell that they were eating eggplant, but neither could I!
A word about nightshade vegetables.
Eggplant is a nightshade vegetable. So if you have arthritis, acid reflux or gout, you may want to avoid eating this, or any other food from the nightshade family, like tomatoes, mushrooms and peppers. Nightshades contain alkaloids that behave like a natural pesticide. These alkaloids can irritate people with existing inflammation. Just a heads up! The last thing I want to do is preach about the benefits of anti-inflammatory foods only to have someone with inflammation feel unwell. Don’t worry, next week I’m dishing about Cauliflower “Orzo” – a great non-nightshade dish. My favorite recipe of all time, spaghetti squash turkey bolognese, is in my book, The Belly Burn Plan. It’s easy, protein-packed and so delicious.
Thin slices are the key!
Moving along…the trick to making this recipe a success is to peel the eggplant and slice (or peel) it very thin. You can do this by using a mandolin or a regular old vegetable peeler.
My slices of eggplant were close to paper thin. Of course, if you love eggplant, thick slices are always an option!
Add this secret ingredient.
I really want my family to get the most nutrition in everything I make, so I added another secret ingredient that is famous for vitamin D. Two cups of finely diced portabella mushrooms (about two mushroom caps) were added to the ground turkey. Mushrooms add a great flavor, and again, no one at the table knew any were added.
Watch the sugar in your sauce.
One of the things I’m most proud in The Belly Burn Plan is that not a single recipe contains refined sugar. The sugar beet is one of the most genetically modified crops in the USA. I don’t want GMO ingredients in my food, so I try to source everything organic. If organic isn’t available, then non-GMO.
My sauce is made with maple syrup from a small Amish community in Wisconsin. My brother gave me a huge container of it when he came to visit. That ought to last a while! When you buy maple syrup, make sure it’s the real deal, not maple “flavored” syrup. Real maple syrup is a little more expensive, but the flavor is much more intense, so it lasts longer.
Now, onto the recipe.
1 eggplant, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 cups portabella mushrooms (about two caps), diced into small pieces
1 cup yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese, shredded
28 ounce can of tomato puree
6 ounce can of tomato paste
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tablespoon fresh basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Peel eggplant, then slice thinly using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin. Cover with a wet paper towel and set aside. Eggplant tends to brown very quickly. The wet paper towel will help keep the color fresh.
2. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add mushrooms, onions, garlic and sea salt. Cook until onions are translucent.
3. Transfer vegetables to a separate large bowl.
4. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the same sauté pan the vegetables were in, then add the ground turkey.
5. Begin making your sauce. Simply add all sauce ingredients together in a medium-size bowl and mix well.
6. After turkey is browned, add to the bowl with the vegetables.
7. Add sauce to the turkey mixture, reserving 1 1/2 cups. Mix well.
8. In a small bowl, combine cheese mixture and set aside.
9. Begin assembling the lasagna in a 9 x 13 pan. Begin with a layer of the turkey mixture, then add a generous layer of the eggplant. Add another layer of turkey mixture followed by the cheese mixture. Repeat again, topping with one final layer of eggplant, the reserved sauce and two tablespoons of parmesan cheese.
10. Bake at 400F for 40 minutes, or until edges become lightly browned. Let sit for 10 minutes and serve with a big mixed greens salad.
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my book, The Belly Burn Plan. It’s loaded with 65 great recipes – all of which are inflammation fighters and full of incredible nutrients. Follow The Belly Burn Plan by eating right for your body type. Not everyone gains weight in the same way, so why eat the same foods to lose weight?