Not Your Nona’s Lasagna

I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting recipes. But when I saw a recipe for pumpkin and kale lasagna, I shuddered and moved on. However, it kept calling my name and I looked at it more closely.

It certainly intrigued me. After all, I love pumpkin, and I love lasagna. I even love kale, with certain reservations. But the recipe was loaded with heavy and calorie-laden ingredients that seemed unnecessary, and kale sauteed in garlic added to pumpkin was too much for me to even think about.

I had a few other misgivings as well, so I incorporated a few of my sneaky ninja moves, as well as substituted almond milk for whole milk to come up with something that might be palatable.

One weekend afternoon, it was time to test it. However, before tying on my apron, I warned my husband that we might be doing take-out at the last minute. We didn’t. The lasagna was delicious, and we ate the entire pan in 3 days. It’s not your typical Italian lasagna, which is why I call it “Not Your Nona’s Lasagna.”

2 15 oz cans 100% pumpkin puree

2 eggs

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp white pepper

10 oz fresh baby spinach, chopped

2 TBSP butter

2 TBSP flour

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp ground nutmeg

8 oz mozzarella cheese

1 cup Parmesan cheese

2 1/2 cups sliced almonds

About 8 ready-to-bake lasagna noodles (Or, you could boil traditional noodles, but who’s got the time)?

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. In a small bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese with the Parmesan and mix well. Lightly spray a large baking pan with non stick spray or olive oil. Spread half of the pumpkin mixture in the bottom of the pan. Top with 1 cup sliced almonds, followed with half of the spinach, and then half of the cheese mixture. Add a layer of ready to bake lasagna noodles.

Spread the remaining pumpkin mixture over the noodles, followed with 1 cup of sliced almonds, the remaining spinach and then the rest of the cheese mixture. Add another layer of noodles.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk well. Slowly add the almond milk, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Add nutmeg and white pepper, remove from heat, and pour evenly over noodles. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to taste and remaining sliced almonds. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in a 350 degree over for 1 hour. Enjoy!




Episode #16 You can have your kale and chocolate, too!

Are you ever confused about what to eat, what not to eat, what is going to kill you long before your time, and what is going to make you live forever? Do you feel guilty that you’re not following a kale-only diet and you prefer a piece of dark chocolate every now and then? Then this episode is for you!

There is so much conflicting information regrading nutrition, and a lot of crazy fads and bizarre beliefs that can actually be harmful to our health, let alone our mental and psychological well-being. There can even be a lot of public shaming surrounding food choices. Seriously, what’s up with that?

Download this fun and informative episode that helps clear up some of the confusion, and discover why it’s possible to have your kale and chocolate, too!

Licorice, lollipops,chocolate and health fairs….

I attended a health and wellness expo last week to promote my business and share the methods I use to help people move better, feel better and get out of pain. I don’t participate in many events, but when I do, I always place a lovely basket of high quality dark chocolate at the edge of my table.

Just the thought of chocolate brings a smile to my face. And the smell! Is there anything more comforting than the smell of rich, dark chocolate wafting over you? Especially when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. As much as I enjoy getting out in front of the public, these big health expos make me incredibly nervous. I’m always afraid of feeling inept, or out of place.

As I organized my table, I set out my basket of chocolate. The heavenly aroma combined with the pretty wrappings began to work it’s magic. A few more deep breaths and I was home free. The other exhibitors were filling the room. One of them walked past me, so I gave her a bright smile and greeted her with a chipper, “Good morning!” She looked derisively at my table, sneered, and said, “Candy… a health fair! That hardly seems appropriate.”

Sheesh! I wanted to educate her on the many benefits of dark chocolate, but she didn’t seem interested in friendly conversation. She breezed past me to set up her table, which was across from me. To make matters worse, the nice young lady next to me was pulling out fresh produce and setting it out just a hair’s breath away from my chocolate.

My nerves started to kick back into overdrive, and the familiar feeling that I didn’t belong there threatened to take over. To pass the time and to avoid the condescending looks from my neighbor, I walked the floor to introduce myself to the other exhibitors. After all, if I was going down, I might as well go out in style.

I saw all kinds of people representing all kinds of businesses. I also saw bags of chocolate, bowls of licorice, and even a basket of gourmet lollipops. Yes, all at a health fair! Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt it was okay to bring a few treats to the table, so to speak. Maybe I wasn’t out of place, and maybe I did belong there. My confidence started to return, along with my sense of humor and my incomparable stubbornness. I was ready for action.

It was a terrific event. I ran out of chocolate before the day was over. The gourmet lollipops were gone within a few hours, and so was the licorice. My next door neighbor never did run out of kale. And the lady across from me never ran out of opportunities to scowl as people walked past her with their licorice, lollipops and chocolate. I felt bad for her, because she didn’t seem to be having much fun, and she didn’t seem particularly happy. A small piece of chocolate might boost her spirits a bit.

Remember, everything in moderation. Including chocolate. And kale. It’s good for your health!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP