Make-Ahead Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Before I jump right into the recipe, I have to tell you that these next several weeks are going to be pretty busy for me. If you’ve been checking out my posts, you know that I’m heading over to Rome and London next week. Yay! I’ve been writing lists and getting organized for the trip. I am seriously neurotic when it comes to packing luggage, and I am a total carry-on-only warrior. I’ve got my travel journal ready and all my TSA approved snacks and travel size organic toiletries. Anyway, since I’ve been planning everything right down to the smallest of details, I realized I’d forgotten one of the most important things to consider. After returning home from a long trip, the last thing you want to think about is grocery shopping and cooking. I needed to come up with a meal that I can take straight from the freezer and pop in the oven as soon as I set down my bags.

Because farmer’s markets and summer CSAs are in full swing, and because I have more summer squash than I know what to do with, I decided to make a Summer vegetable lasagna. Lasagna is one of my favorite meals, y’all, and this recipe is nothing short of amazing. The Béchamel sauce really makes every bite a cosmic experience. The best part is that you can make this ahead of time and then freeze portions for a quick, healthy, and oh so tasty meal when you return home from your own vacay. You must try this!!!

Summer Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

For the vegetable filling:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 yellow or green summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
  • 3 jarred roasted red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can (28 oz./875 g) plum tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (1 oz./30 g) fresh basil leaves, minced
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the béchamel sauce

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) (2 oz./60 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) whole milk
  • 3 cups (24 oz./750 g) ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 lb. (250 g) no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 3/4 lb. (12 oz./375 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded

Directions

1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. To make the filling, in a 5-quart (5-l) Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Stir in the bell peppers, tomatoes, basil and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Clean the pot.

3. To make the béchamel sauce, in the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly stir in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer half of the sauce to a bowl. Spread the remaining sauce evenly on the bottom of the pot. In another bowl, stir together the ricotta, egg and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper.

4. Cover the sauce in the pot with a single layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them if needed to fit. Spread one-third of the ricotta mixture evenly on top, then one-third of the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with one-fourth of the mozzarella. Repeat the layering 2 more times, starting with the noodles. Top with a final layer of noodles and the remaining béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella. Cover the pot with aluminum foil and bake until the noodles are tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes longer. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm. Serves 8 to 10.

***To freeze, cut it into individual portions. Wrap the portions in aluminum foil and when you’re ready to reheat, just pop them in the oven for about 45 minutes at 375°F.

Source: Williams Sonoma

Try This— 3 Ingredient Creamy Avocado Dip

This creamy avocado dip is just 3 ingredients!

You can add an avocado or two to pretty much anything and it’s delicious. I have tested this theory in dozens of recipes, both sweet and savory, and I have yet to be disappointed. Still my greatest avocado triumphs have come in the form of 3-ingredient-or-less recipes. So as I’m preparing my Memorial Day menu, I’ve been fooling around with some simple, yet highly satisfying avocado recipes.  My absolute favorite is this creamy avocado dip from the Kitchn perfect for entertaining. Use it to dip chips, veggies, crackers, or as a condiment on your homemade grilled veggie burgers. It’s a crowd pleaser, y’all, I promise. You must try this!

3 Ingredient Creamy Avocado Dip

Ingredients

Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 medium ripe avocados
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit.
  • Spoon the flesh of the avocados into the bowl of food processor or blender.
  • Add the goat cheese, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Blend until smooth and creamy, 30 to 40 seconds.

Try This—Blueberry, Avocado, and Chia Breakfast Pudding

Start your day off right with this super healthy blueberry, avocado, and chia breakfast pudding!

I’ve really been on my breakfast grind lately. I find that when I eat a nutrient dense breakfast it pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the day. I have more energy and come lunch and dinner time, I make better choices. I’m an oatmeal and smoothie warrior when it comes to breakfast. Oatmeal and smoothies check all the boxes for me. They’re the quickest, easiest, and most nutritious breakfast staples to make in the throes of a hectic morning. Anyway, I got to thinking how dope it would be to make a breakfast pudding, because, ya know, dessert for breakfast is always the goal. Turns out breakfast pudding is the dopest of dope especially when you combine the antioxidant power of blueberries with the superfood power of avocado and chia. You must try this!

Blueberry, Avocado, and Chia Breakfast Pudding

ingredients

makes 2 servings
one serving= 296 calories, 19 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of protein
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 tbsp non dairy milk (I’ve been swimming in Oatly lately)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, or honey
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground or whole chia seeds

directions

  • combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth
  • divide pudding into 2 small ramekins or cups
  • refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the chia to thicken before serving
  • enjoy!

Source: The Iron You

Try This—Homemade Oatmeal Almond Power Bars

These power bars are packed with protein, healthy fats, and carbs giving you a much needed post workout boost, or midday snack. I’ve spent a small fortune on those Kind bars and Quest bars until I finally figured out that I could make these snacks at home with very little effort. Best part: I actually know what’s in them. No guess work, just a simple healthy snack that tastes great and stays fresh in the fridge and the freezer! Winning! You must try this!

Homemade Oatmeal Almond Power Bars

ingredients (makes about 12 bars)

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 5 medjool dates
  • ½ cup cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp. boiling water

Directions

  • Place almonds and oats in food processor (I use my trusty Nutribullet) and blend until you have a coarse crumb.
  • Add cacao powder, cranberries, and dates and blend again.
  • Begin adding the boiling water, a little at a time and continue blending, until the mixture becomes well incorporated and forms a ball.
  • Press the dough into a baking tin lined with wax or parchment paper and place in the fridge for 3-4 hours before slicing into bars.
  • For grab and go storage, wrap each bar in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

***Because all of the ingredients have a super long shelf life, you can store them on the counter top for several days, in the fridge for several weeks, and in the freezer for up to 6 months. Trust me when I say you’ll eat them all long before you run into any shelf life issues.

***Each bar contains about 200 calories.

Customize It!

This recipe is delicious, but there are so many ways to customize these energy bars. Check out this neat infographic to get you started!

Refuel, Repair, Rehydrate: Post-Workout Eats For Each Exercise

Confession: I didn’t really like working out much… that is until I got my hands on some sports bras that actually got the twins under control. Now I’m really digging my workouts… that is until I’m post-workout hangry and reaching for the most convenient, yet least satisfying crap I can find. I’ll spare you the long backstory and just get to the plant-based protein of the matter. You gotta eat after you workout. More than that, you gotta eat the right stuff in order to refuel, repair, and rehydrate.

Refuel

  • Refuel your glycogen (carbohydrate) stores to avoid muscle tissue breakdown and low energy.
  • Lack of glucose to fuel the brain can lead to decreased alertness and concentration, and low mood.
  • Aim for high quality carbohydrates sources (think wholegrain breads and cereals).

Repair

  • Repair damaged muscles with protein.
  • Consuming protein post-workout will provide amino acids for the building and repair of muscle tissue. This will help you to recover more quickly.
  • Aim for lean protein sources (think eggs, nuts, legumes, tofu and dairy).

Rehydrate

Post-Workout Foods

Here’s a breakdown of what you should be eating after your workout according to your preferred exercise.

Cardio

Cardio includes running, spin class, and any endurance training. It’s important to replenish your carbohydrate stores after any cardio routine. Think foods that are high in quality carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana slices
  • a banana and a handful of nuts
  • 1-2 slices of whole grain toast with either ricotta and fruit or cottage cheese and tomato (try this delicious recipe)

Yoga and Pilates

It’s important to repair tired muscles after any yoga or pilates routine. Protein and low GI carbs are key here. Think foods like tofu, hard boiled eggs, roasted vegetables, or trail mix.

  • Yogurt and muesli that contains fruit and nuts
  • chopped veggies and hummus
  • two hard boiled eggs with a slice of multigrain toast

Resistance, Strength Training, Crossfit

These are the most intense workouts of the bunch. Nutrient dense foods are essential. Think foods that are high in protein and other nutrients, but low in fat (especially if muscle gain is your goal). Smoothies are an excellent choice, but if you need something more think eggs, oats, yogurt, and pineapple. Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme that may help reduce inflammation brought on by exercise.

  • omelet with red or green bell peppers and spinach
  • fruit salad (remember to include pineapple!)
  • overnight oats- simply combine oats, yogurt or non dairy milk, mashed banana and chia seeds and place in the fridge overnight. It’ll be ready for tomorrow’s workout

Source: HuffPost