What Are the Best Tips for Making Healthy Lasagna?

A. Pasbjerg

While traditional lasagna is often high in fat, cholesterol, and sodium and low in fiber and nutrients, there are many changes that can be made to the recipe to create a healthy lasagna. Low-fat varieties of cheese can be used to decrease fat and cholesterol, and egg whites can be substituted for whole eggs. Lean meats can also be used for this purpose, or the lasagna can be made without meat. Adding vegetables such as onions, spinach, or broccoli can add nutrients and fiber, as can using whole wheat noodles. Low- or no-sodium tomato sauces can be used in place of higher sodium varieties to cut salt content, and salt in the recipe can be replaced with spices to add flavor.

Basil is a common ingredient in lasagnas.
Basil is a common ingredient in lasagnas.

Finding ways to reduce fat and cholesterol content is often a part of making a healthy lasagna. Part-skim or non-fat versions of mozzarella, ricotta, or cottage cheese are all good substitutes for their full-fat counterparts. Some cheeses such as Parmesan are already normally lower in fat than other options and add plenty of flavor. For recipes that require eggs, one may choose to use just the egg whites instead. Lean beef, ground turkey, and other lean meats can also make for a lighter dish, or one can simply opt to leave out the meat completely and make a vegetarian lasagna.

Grated Parmesan cheese is often added to lasagnas, and doesn't add much extra fat.
Grated Parmesan cheese is often added to lasagnas, and doesn't add much extra fat.

Another way to make a healthy lasagna is to add vegetables to the recipe. Some people may prefer to stick with more traditional options such as spinach, onions, or garlic, while others may wish to try less standard choices such as broccoli, butternut squash, or eggplant. Fresh vegetables can be used if they are available, or frozen ones may be substituted; both are high in nutrients, fiber, and flavor.

Mozzarella with tomatoes and basil leaves.
Mozzarella with tomatoes and basil leaves.

Using whole wheat pasta can also make lasagna healthier. Typically, the dish contains noodles made from processed white flour, which has little nutritional value. Switching them for the whole wheat type can boost nutrients and fiber content.

Courgettes, or zucchini, adds flavor to traditional lasagna.
Courgettes, or zucchini, adds flavor to traditional lasagna.

A healthy lasagna recipe often calls for a reduction in sodium, which can be very high in regular recipes. Those who use canned or jarred tomatoes or sauces will want to look for varieties that have little or no sodium added. The amount of salt added to the recipe should also be kept to a minimum; other spices like basil, oregano, and parsley, either dried or fresh, can be used if extra flavor is needed.

Lasagna can be made with spinach instead of ground beef.
Lasagna can be made with spinach instead of ground beef.
Vegetables such as butternut squash can be used in a healthy lasagna.
Vegetables such as butternut squash can be used in a healthy lasagna.
Lean beef can be used to make a lighter lasagna.
Lean beef can be used to make a lighter lasagna.
Using pasta made with wheat or whole wheat can help make lasagna healthier.
Using pasta made with wheat or whole wheat can help make lasagna healthier.
Fresh broccoli, peppers, and onions add a nutritional punch to low-fat lasagna.
Fresh broccoli, peppers, and onions add a nutritional punch to low-fat lasagna.
Low- or non-fat cottage cheese can be substituted for ricotta to make lasagna healthier.
Low- or non-fat cottage cheese can be substituted for ricotta to make lasagna healthier.

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