A Lasagna That’s Mexican and Good for You!
You might think I’m LOCO, but there is such a thing and it’s this Lasagna Azteca recipe which I adapted from The Rancho La Puerta Cookbook and tweaked to be high fat, low carb and to suit ingredients found in Australia. The result is this amazing, cheesy, spicy delicious dish that tastes just as good the next day in your lunch box. So read the information below about the Keto diet to understand why I did away with the tortillas in the original recipe and how eating this way can improve your mental and physical performance. Oh, yeah, and your surfing!
Introduction To Keto Diet
The basic premise behind the Keto Diet is that you eat fat to burn fat. I’ll say this crazy idea over and over to you in my recipes and posts. However, the Keto way of eating goes back farther than your latest diet fad and requires a bit of scientific knowledge. Basically, by eating a high fat, low carb diet the body enters a state called “ketosis,” whereby the body uses ketones produced by the liver as energy.
Ketosis is a process used by the body since the days of the caveman. When food is intake is low, the body starts producing ketones to use as energy.
Since we are not starving by any stretch, we have to create the environment to produce ketones by restricting our diet and lowering our intake of carbs. In order to digest high carb foods, your body produces insulin and glucose. Since glucose is the easiest molecule for your body to convert into energy, you body will use it as its main source of energy and store fat elsewhere.
If you take away those glucose producing carbs, your body has got to use something else as fuel. That something else is fat! Thus by excluding carbs from your diet and relying fat for energy, you enter a state of ketosis.
The benefits of ketosis for the average surfer include weight loss, energy, mental focus and physical performance.
There is a lot of interesting research right now about how ketosis can improve physical performance and breath-hold in athletes and Navy Seals (Check out this article about the Seals on Ben Greenfield Fitness). Breath hold is especially interesting for surfers because increased breath hold = more confidence = bigger waves.
High Fat, Low Carb Lasagna Azteca
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 20 minutes
Adapted to suit the keto diet from a recipe in the Rancho La Puerta Cookbook.
- 4-6 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
- 10 tomatillos whole, peeled (prefer fresh, but canned are suitable in Australia)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 serrano peppers or other spicy chili
- 1 whole yellow onion cut into quarters
- 3 mild to sweet peppers such as Anaheim
- 1 bunch cilantro (corriander)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tbsp water or vegetable stock
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius (400 fahrenheit). Place all ingredients except stock, salt and pepper and olive oil on a baking paper lined cookie tray. Coat with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake 15 minutes or until browned and blistering.
Remove tray from oven and let cook to room temperature. Place all ingredients from tray plus cilantro with stems and water or stock into blender. Blender for 30 seconds or until smooth. Season to taste. Reserve.
- Reserved salsa
- 4-5 medium zucchini or squash (choose long but wide ones that will be easy to cut into lasagna “noodles”)
- ½ cup ricotta
- ½ cup parmesan cheese plus 1 cup for sprinkling
- 1 egg
- 3 cups spinach
- ½ yellow onion chopped
- 1 cup portobello mushrooms chopped
- 1 ear of corn
- 1 tbsp ghee or butter
Place ghee or butter in frying pan over medium heat, add diced onion, saute for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and corn, cook for 2 minutes. Add spinach and cook for 2 minutes longer. Remove pan from heat.
Meanwhile, slice the zucchini or squash lengthwise into pieces about a half a centimeter thick being sure not to make them too thick. These are your lasagna noodles.
Place ricotta, ½ cup of parmesan cheese, egg and a generous amount of salt and pepper in medium bowl and mix.
Now you’re ready to assemble. Place baking paper in medium glass pan and fold into corners, spray with avocado or coconut oil. Start by spreading ⅓ of your salsa on the bottom. Next make a layer of zucchini “noodles.” Top with the cheese mixture, half of your sauteed vegetables,1/2 cup parmesan. Finish layer with half of remaining salsa.
Repeat with zucchini “noodles,” cheese mixture, sauteed vegetables, cheese and salsa. For the final layer, use remaining zucchini “noodles,” salsa and top with cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes at 200 C (400 C) or until the top is golden and the zucchini is cooked through.