Spinach 4-Cheese Lasagna

1 package (16 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 pint (15 oz) part-skim Ricotta cheese
1 large egg, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, or seasonings to taste
1 clove crushed garlic, optional or to taste
1 pound shredded part skim Mozzarella cheese (4 cups)*
1 pound shredded Provolone cheese (4 cups)*
1/2 pound shredded Parmesan cheese (1 1/2 cups)*
2 packages (8 oz ea) oven ready lasagna noodles
1 bottle (26 oz) favorite spaghetti sauce (3 cups)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9×13 pan (or two 9×9 pans) with non-stick spray, set aside.

Thaw and drain spinach; mix with Ricotta cheese, egg, Italian seasoning(s) and optional garlic.

If needed, thin thick spaghetti sauce with 1/2-cup water.

Layer ingredients in prepared pan in the following order:
a single layer noodles, 1/3 the spinach, 1/4 the shredded cheeses, a single layer noodles, 1/3 the sauce; repeat for a total of 3 layers. Top with remaining shredded cheese. (NOTE – evenly spread ingredients across noodles; sauce should be spread to the edges of pan). Cover with foil and bake 45-50 minutes, remove foil and bake 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and edges are beginning to brown.

Cool 10 minutes prior to serving. Cut 9×13 pan into 12 portions. Cut each 9×9 pan into 9 portions.

This recipe is shared by my friend Libby Lovig. It is a hearty recipe which uses whole natural ingredients to satisfy taste and appetite. Because it is filling a smaller portion is all that is needed or wanted (note – Nutrition analysis was calculated using two 9×9 pans cutting each into 9 servings.)

Italian seasonings may be replaced with a combination of favorite herbs and spices such as garlic powder, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, etc. Begin with 1-2 teaspoons dried herbs (or 2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh) and adjust to taste.

* Pre-shredded Italian cheese blend may be substituted for Mozzarella, Provolone and Parmesan cheeses.

Tips for Healthy Eating:
Rule 1 – Taste Always Rules.

If we don’t like the taste we ain’t gonna stick to it. This is a flavorful whole foods lasagna.

This recipe uses whole ingredients, the taste integrity is intact.

Mix spinach w/egg, ricotta, garlic, Italian seasoning
Layer ingredients in 9×9 pan (have one 9×9 pan ready to show)

Noodles, spinach, cheese, noodles, sauce

We’re not short cutting the flavor or quality of the recipe by using fat free cheese (layer on cheese) or other ingredients:

Full pound mozzarella cheese

Full pound provolone cheese

Half pound parmesan cheese

Rule 2 – Make small changes.

Experts agree – if you want to make lasting changes, including diet changes, be reasonable and make small manageable changes. For example keep the original recipe flavor but reduce the portion size. Because this lasagna is hearty and satisfying you do not want (or need) to eat as much.

Instead of cutting the usual 9×13 pan into 10-12 servings, I divide the ingredients into two 9×9 pans and cut each pan into 9 servings for a total of 18 servings. BONUS – cook once, eat twice! Freeze or refrigerate the other pan for later, or send to a neighbor.

Rule 3 – Keep the big picture in focus.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We live in a nation that is overweight – but undernourished. We are failing to see the bigger picture. Read nutrient labels and look for the nutrient rich foods. This is a nutrient rich recipe. To name a few nutrients – it provides 70% of the daily calcium, it’s an excellent protein source, and is a great source of fiber. Focus on consuming those food we are not getting enough of – like dairy, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and make all foods a part of the daily nutrient budget. When this lasagna is served as the main entrée with a leafy green salad, perhaps a sliced tomato, and a fruit cup it provides 1/3 of the recommended daily nutrients needed in our diet. It’s in budget for fat and sodium and delivers on flavor and satisfaction. A perfect fit for a healthy diet.

For delicious dairy recipes and nutrition information go to www.UtahDairyCouncil.com or www.NationalDairyCouncil.org visit us on Face Book www.facebook.com/DairyUTNV

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