For those of you that follow my blog on a regular basis, I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I’m always looking for ways to make not-so-healthy favourites (like lasagna!) healthy, delicious and easy. It’s pretty much one of my main goals in life. So when my sister-in-law gave me the idea of using sweet potato and chia seeds in a lasagna, I couldn’t resist the temptation to make a delicious, healthy version of this favourite comfort food using these healthy ingredients.
Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate, which means they’re high in fibre and our bodies can use the calories from sweet potatoes longer than a refined, white lasagna noodle. The chia seeds work two ways in this recipe: one, they provide a protein and healthy fat component and two, they absorb excess moisture from the vegetables so you don’t end up with lasagna soup! A quick note about chia seeds: they’re a great addition to vegetarian food because they are a good source of iron, which is important to get enough of it you’re not eating animal protein (the best source of heme iron).
The beans and vegetables really “beef” up this recipe, and the cheese and tomato sauce provide you with those classic flavours of lasagna. There’s a bit of prep work involved with this meal, but it can be done the night before when the kids go to bed, and the assembly only takes about 10 minutes. Than you set your slow cooker and forget it!
Super Easy Veggie Chia Seed Slow Cooker Lasagna
2-3 medium sweet potatoes
1 package sliced cremini mushrooms
1 650-700 mL jar organic tomato sauce
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 tub ricotta cheese
1 tbsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried basil and oregano
1 can organic chick peas or navy beans, drain and rinse
3 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (optional)
1/2 cup shredded white aged cheddar cheese
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Chop sweet potatoes into large slices: cut potatoes in half, place the flat side down on the cutting board, and chop into 1-inch thick slices. Dice mushrooms and zucchini into small cubes.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese with lemon zest, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and drained beans. Shred your cheddar cheese and combine with the feta.
Spray slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray (I use coconut oil spray), and start layering your lasagna (season with salt and pepper as you layer):
Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of the slow cooker and sprinkle a third of the chia seeds. Layer on your sweet potato slices (enough to cover the bottom) and top with about one third of the ricotta mixture, zucchini, mushrooms and cheese mixture. Repeat this process two more times (sauce, chia seeds, sweet potato slices, ricotta, veggies and cheese) for a total of three complete layers.
Top with three, uncooked lasagna noodles (you can break the noodles so they fit – it doesn’t matter how they look!), cover with a thin layer of sauce and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Cover your slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5-6 hours. Turn the crockpot off and let the lasagna sit for about an hour. This will allow the chia seeds to absorb the excess moisture from the mushrooms and zucchini.
Cut lasagna and scoop out into bowls. Top with fresh ground pepper.