Making the Most out of Garden Bounty

The Link, Summer 2017
| by Louise Racine |

One of the best things about summer is the variety of fresh produce available from our gardens and local markets. If you have your own vegetable garden you may even find yourself with an abundance of certain crops, especially tomatoes and zucchini. Sometimes Mother Nature provides us with so much that we’re not sure what to do with it all!

While we often think of salads and barbeques for meals during the summer, there are times when a hot-hearty dish is more appropriate or convenient. Especially on cool days when it’s fine to have the oven on. On a rainy summer weekend a few years ago, I created this issue’s recipe at a retreat where the clients needed some comfort food.

“What’s not in a dish is as important as what is.”

When time and temperature come together, it’s a good opportunity to prepare meals that can be frozen and enjoyed on days that our work schedules and activities have us rushing about.

Lasagna is not usually considered one of the healthiest meal options. However, there are ways you can make this favourite more nutritious while still being satisfying.

First, being meatless means less fat and more room for those fresh veggies you want to use up, which is what we’re trying to accomplish here. Not only are vegetables accessible and inexpensive when in season, they are also important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fibre, folate (folic acid), vitamin A and vitamin C. Dietary fibre as part of an overall healthy diet helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease, plus fibre is important for proper bowel function. Fibre-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.

What’s not in a dish is as important as what is. In this case the white sauce if made with rice flour, rice milk and broth will also be lighter than regular cream sauces. And by using part-skim cheese the fat content is further reduced.

There are so many more options on the market for lasagna noodles these days, so if you want this dish to be higher in fibre or gluten-free these alternatives are available in most grocery stores. I find the oven-ready lasagna noodle products most convenient and they actually work really well, especially when using fresh veggies that tend to have a high water content.

The tofu in this recipe provides bulk and adds protein. As I’ve stressed before, with any soy product it’s important to choose tofu made from organic soybeans. If you don’t have or wish to use tofu you could replace it with Romano beans that are lightly mashed or cooked turkey sausages.

Lasagna really is one of those dishes allowing you to be creative if you’re open to trying something that might not be what you’re used to. It provides the comfort of pasta and cheese with the potential for incorporating your family’s favourite seasonal vegetables.

The following recipe is from our first Thirteen Moons cookbook. Enjoy!