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Low & Slow: Vegetable Lasagna Fit for Your Family and Your Waist-Line

We’re back with Holley Grainger, the “Mommy Dietitian in the Kitchen,” who is here to share her favorite slow-cooker lasagna, perfect for both winter and our new-year’s resolutions of eating more healthfully. Take it away, Holley!


The new year = new dinner ideas! My Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna is the perfect fix-it and forget-it dish. Packed with protein, veggies, and flavor, this good-for-you twist on the classic Italian dish is soon to be a new family favorite.

As a busy mom, I am always trying to find new ways to create fast and easy meals that are practical, doable, and delicious (and of course that my girls will eat). Achieving this without compromising flavor and nutrition can be challenging. My slow cooker has become my new best friend. I’ve always used it for party appetizers, soups, and chili, but now I have a new favorite dish to cook — lasagna!  Simply layer all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, turn it on, and forget about it. Prep the lasagna ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it. Best of all, there is minimal clean up.

My veggie lasagna has the flavor of the classic comfort food, but with a fraction of the fat and calories. That’s a win-win in my book!  Adding zucchini “noodles” for two layers of the pasta helps to add more veggies while cutting back on the calories and carbs. It also boosts the total nutrition of the dish. To make this a gluten free meal, simply replace the lasagna noodles with zucchini noodles. I add extra protein to the dish by cutting the ricotta cheese in half and replacing with cottage cheese since cottage cheese is higher in protein and lower in fat than ricotta.

Now, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Veggie lasagna has the tendency to be watery because vegetables give off quite a bit of moisture as they cook. In order to keep this recipe from becoming too runny, be sure to follow the three tricks I’ve outlined in the recipe: salt the zucchini before cooking to remove excess moisture, use no-bake lasagna noodles to absorb liquid, and allow the lasagna to sit for 30 minutes after cooking to reabsorb extra moisture. Thee three tips will ensure that your veggie lasagna has the delicious texture you’re craving. 

Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

Cook Time: 2-3 hours
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 medium zucchini
Salt
1 24-oz jar of high quality tomato sauce
2 eggs
8 oz low fat cottage cheese
8 oz part skim milk ricotta cheese
1 ¼ cup mozzarella cheese
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp Italian seasoning
9- 12 no boil lasagna noodles
2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 small diced yellow onion
Fresh basil for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. With a very sharp knife slice the zucchini length wise into long, thin (¼-inch strips). Spread slices on a layer of paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt to remove excess moisture. Let sit for 15-30 minutes then rinse under cold water to remove excess salt. Pat dry.
  2. Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Pour ½ cup tomato sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker. 
  3. In a small bowl, mix together eggs, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.
  4. Create the first “layer” of the lasagna by layering 3 sheets of lasagna noodles on top of the tomato sauce in the slow cooker. You may need to break them in half to fit. Top the lasagna noodles with 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture, 1/3 of the chopped spinach, 1/3 of the chopped onions, and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese. 
  5. Make the second layer by layering ½ cup tomato sauce, 4 slices of zucchini, 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture, 1/3 of the chopped spinach, 1/3 of the chopped onions, and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
  6. Create the third layer by layering ½ cup tomato sauce, 3 sheets of lasagna noodles. You may need to break them in half to fit. Top the lasagna noodles with 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture, 1/3 of the chopped spinach, 1/3 of the chopped onions, and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
  7. Add the fourth layer by layering ½ cup tomato sauce, 4 slices of zucchini, 1/3 of the cottage cheese mixture, 1/3 of the chopped spinach, 1/3 of the chopped onions, and ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
  8. Make the final layer by layering ½ cup tomato sauce, lasagna noodles, remaining tomato sauce, and ½ cup mozzarella cheese.
  9.  Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or until the cheese is melted and the noodles are tender. Turn off the slow cooker and let sit for 30 minutes before serving to set up. (Lasagna may be runny if you skip this step.) Garnish with fresh basil.

Do you have a slow cooker recipe that you love? My Easy, Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili is a family favorite and my Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Meatballs are ideal when entertaining a crowd. Leave your favorite recipes in the comments below or pop over to my Facebook page to share what you’re cooking! Add all of these ingredients to your cart by shopping the new Slow Cooker Category and get all of these products delivered straight to your door with Shipt!

Holley Grainger, MS, RD is a nationally recognized culinary nutrition expert and “Mommy Dietitian in the Kitchen” who instructs families on how to make doable and delicious meals. She’s been featured in hundreds of televisions, print, and radio segments nationwide including The Dr. Oz Show, The Doctor’s, NBC’s Today Show and Weekend Today, CBS’s The Early Show, Fox News Channel, CNN, The New York Times, Travel Channel, Cosmopolitan, MyFitnessPal.com, HGTV.com, and MSN.com among others and is a regular contributor to the Birmingham, Alabama, news outlets. 
Holley lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband and two young daughters, Ellie and Frances, and blogs at Holley Grainger Nutrition. Connect with Holley on social media: InstagramPinterestTwitterYoutube, and Facebook.


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