A Vegan, Gluten-Free and Paleo Lasagna recipe that’s healthy, satisfying and delicious! Sliced zucchini and sweet potato act as noodles and a creamy cashew “ricotta” acts as the cheese. It’s comfort food made healthy!
When I think of lasagna, I think: comfort food. And bloating, and gassiness, and feeling super weighed down. Sorry if I deflated your lasagna daydream! But let’s be real: all those layers of pasta and cheese can be problematic for many people’s digestion and everybody’s waistline.
But what if we could save lasagna from all its negative side effects but keep its yummy flavor and warm elation? Well, I’m glad you asked, cuz I’ve done just that. Say hello to my little friend: Grain and Dairy Free Lasagna!
Grain and Dairy Free Lasagna
Veggies as Noodles?!
Most people know they need more veggies in their diet, but don’t know how to incorporate them in a tasty and tempting way. I have a friend who only ate chopped veggies dipped in hummus for her daily veggie intake. Let me tell ya, that grew old for her real quick! In my Vegan, Grain-Free Lasagna recipe, I’ve ditched the pasta and replaced it with layers of sweet potato and zucchini. Boom. More veggies in your diet, and yet you still get a savory, warm, traditional dish.
Wanna know what else I replaced in this dish? Cheese. Ok, close your eyes and take a journey with me to the Mediterranean. Picture whitewashed buildings overlooking turquoise blue water. Yep, I’m talking about Greece! Ever heard of Blue Zones? Ya know, those areas in the world where scientists have discovered a high number of people who live past 100 years of age? If you haven’t read about them, look them up. Very interesting stuff. Ok, back to Greece: a Greek island named Ikaria happens to be a place deemed a Blue Zone. It has a large number of people who live to be quite old, even past 100! And guess what the people of Ikaria get a lot of in their diet? Fat. I know, crazy right?!
Meanwhile in America, consumers are still chowing down on low-fat this and non-fat that. What’s even more boggling is that even though these Grecians consume a lot of fat, they still maintain low cholesterol levels and experience minimal cases of heart disease. So how is this possible? On a closer look, it’s the type of fats the people of Ikaria consume that are noteworthy. Most of their fat intake comes from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These include: fatty fish, olive oil, safflower oil, avocados, sunflower seeds, and nuts. They do consume some feta cheese, but in small amounts. This is in high contrast to America’s main sources of fat: animal fats (like cheese and cured meats) and partially hydrogenated vegetables oils, which can be found in many highly-processed foods and fast foods.
Grain and Dairy Free Lasagna
Fats are important!
Now, just to be clear, fats are important for our health, especially brain health. But looking at the people of Ikaria as an example, it seems that the type of fat our body digests makes a big difference in our overall health and longevity.
So…what can we take from all this? First, Greece seems pretty cool. Second, fats are necessary and good for us, but not all fats are created equal. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats seem to have the overall best effect on the human body. And lastly, it explains why I’ve cut out the cheese in my Vegan, Grain-free Lasagna and replaced it with cashew “ricotta” cheese. Cashews have a slew of nutrients, including a healthy amount of fat. Not only is this a much better swap for actual cheese, but my clients also love the taste of the cashew “ricotta”. So what are you waiting for? Let’s make some lasagna! And then let’s book a flight to Greece, ASAP.
A couple quick notes:
A high-powered blender like a Vitamix is the easiest way to get silky, smooth cashew cheese. However, this is a big investment. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, just use patience. Keep stopping and scrapping down the sides with a mini spatula and add more filtered water, if necessary. Soaking your cashews in filtered water for a least 1 hour before preparing will also help get your “cheese” smoother.
Finally, I prefer Kudzu Root in this recipe over arrowroot or tapioca starch, however you can use all of these ingredients interchangeably. Kuzu is a little more expensive, but has more medicinal properties and is thought to be soothing to the intestines. For these reasons, I prefer it.
Specialty equipment and ingredients:
Grain and Dairy Free Lasagna Recipe
Grain and Dairy Free Lasagna
Vegan | Gluten-Free | Paleo | Dairy-Free | Sugar-Free
For the Cashew “Cheese”:
- 1 cup raw cashews*
- 1 Tablespoon kuzu root tapioca flour or arrowroot
- Juice of 1 lemon about 1 Tablespoon
- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 – 4 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup filtered water or more if necessary
For the lasagna:
- 2 large sweet potatoes sliced thin lengthwise
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt divided
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper divided
- 1 medium sized zucchini sliced thin lengthwise
- 1 medium sized yellow squash sliced thin lengthwise
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- 1 jar tomato sauce** at least 15-ounces
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Prepare the Cashew Cheese by placing all of the ingredients into a high-powered blender. Starting on low speed, blend slowly working up to high. Blend until smooth and creamy. You may have to stop and scrape down the sides occasionally. Set aside.
Place sliced sweet potatoes on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and a pinch of black pepper. Using your hands rub all the sweet potatoes to make sure the oil and seasoning is distributed evenly. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes.
When sweet potatoes are done, assemble lasagna in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Spread a layer of tomato sauce along the bottom of the dish. Place one layer of sweet potatoes, I like them to overlap just slightly, then a layer of zucchini or yellow squash. Spread a layer of Cashew Cheese, top with a layer of spinach and pour some tomato sauce over the top. Repeat layering in the same order until you run out of veggies or you reach the top of your casserole dish. I like to end with a layer of spinach and a drizzle of tomato sauce. If you have leftover Cashew Cheese, place a few dollops on top. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
Place the lasagna uncovered on a baking sheet (in case there are drippings) and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes, (this step is important, as it allows the cheese to set).
Serve on a bed of fresh spinach and enjoy.
*Option to soak raw cashews in filtered water for 2 – 4 hours before using. This step is optional, but will create a creamier “cheese”.
**I prefer using Trader Joe's canned, plain tomato sauce for this since it is sugar free.
***I've adapted this recipe from one I found on Yum Universe many moons ago. 🙂
Did you make it?
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Lasagna photos courtesy of the very talented Bobak Radbin: www.bobakradbin.com
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