Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Sneaky Mom

Spinach & Butternut Squash Ravioli Lasagna
I hear it over and over again --What do I do for my PICKY eater? Maybe you have a child that puts up a fight at the dinner table over the carrots, or your husband swears that he is allergic to anything green. Let me offer you a glimmer of hope: it can take as many as ten to fifteen tastes before a person (not just a child!) will learn to appreciate a new flavor, so don’t give up just yet. Sometimes, it’s okay to be sneaky in the kitchen.

Grate your way to goodness. Cube, shred, or grate fruits and vegetables down, or puree them up and see how creative you can get with your favorite recipes. Grated zucchini and carrots do wonders for turkey burgers, meatloaf, and meatballs adding both moisture and beneficial nutrients to the dish. Puree cooked cauliflower, winter squash, or red peppers and stir them into sauces, or mashed potatoes, even into the glorious macaroni and cheese. The bonus is that you’ll be adding a new twist to an old favorite recipe.

Try this vegetable enthused recipe for a delicious weeknight meal- a sure guarantee for raves courtesy of the sneaky mom:

Spinach & Butternut Squash Ravioli Lasagna

2 cups fat-free tomato basil marinara sauce
1 ½ (12oz) packages square cheese ravioli, frozen      
6 cups fresh baby spinach
1 (8 oz) container mushrooms
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups butternut squash, cubed (fresh or frozen)
½  cup reduced fat Italian 4 Cheese Blend
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
¼  cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°. Heat a large dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add spinach; sauté 1-2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Add mushrooms and continue to sauté until soft and vegetables have released their juice. While spinach-mushroom vegetables soften, place cubed squash in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and cook on high 5 minutes or until tender.  Toss 2 tablespoons of basil with the Italian cheese, reserve. Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray. Spread ¼ cup marinara in the bottom of one prepared dish. Arrange frozen ravioli evenly in rows over sauce; sprinkle with 1/4 cup basil-cheese mixture. Arrange squash over cheese; spread ½ cup sauce over squash. Repeat ravioli layer, arrange spinach-mushroom mixture over ravioli; sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup basil-cheese. Spread ½ cup sauce over spinach mixture. End with remaining ravioli; spread remaining sauce evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover pan with foil, bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes, or until bubbly and parmesan has browned. Serves six.  

Nutrition Information: *Calories: 258 *Fat: 6.5 g *Carbohydrate: 37.5 g *Fiber: 7.7 g *Protein: 15g

Amber Massey, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian
Executive Health Program
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth

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