Veggies By Candlelight A journal devoted to the art of healthy eating Wed, 01 Mar 2017 03:27:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce Tue, 28 Feb 2017 11:26:36 +0000

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four.” ~ Nora Ephron

The post Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce appeared first on Veggies By Candlelight.


“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six.  If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four.”    ~ Nora Ephron

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By night I work for corporate America in the field of I.T .. and lead a team of people based both in the U.S. and in India.  One of the Indian women I work with told me once about her arranged marriage

“It took me twelve years to fall in love with him.  I was deeply unhappy for most of those years”

“What changed?  What made you start to love him after all of that time?”

“I simply changed my mind about him.  That's all”

— — —

It's hard work to change your mind about someone (or yourself)

It's easy to survey your spouse at their worst and grow resentful   (or listen to the tape recorder in your head .. that whispers you're not good enough)

It's easy to watch grand sweeping romantic gestures in the movies .. or on your Instagram feed .. or your neighbor's front porch and wonder what it would be like to have a love so beautiful .. so romantic .. so celebratory   (or see beautiful fitness models .. or your best friend who wears a size 2 .. and wonder what it would be like to truly be free of the weight)

It's easy to stop noticing the one who takes the puppies for their morning walk .. and start wishing he'd bring home flowers more often  (or stop realizing just how far you've come on your weight loss journey .. and think you'll never be able to make it the rest of the way)

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce - Quick, glamorous, from-scratch vegetarian lasagna? Yes, please!

Today .. Part II of a short series devoted to “I can” vs “I can't”   A series inspired by a friend and coach who's on a mission to prove to her clients that “Yes .. they can!”  Turns out the girl who's usually gung-ho tells herself “I can't” more often than I ever realized.

I thought it might be fun to share how I've handled a few of my can'ts these past few weeks .. and found answers to the question

“So if you can't do that .. what can you do instead?”

— — —

I can't remember to track my food and I don't have time

Listen .. it's never an ideal time to start a new habit.  It's never a good time to have a baby .. to make the move .. to join the gym.  There’s always tomorrow .. until there isn’t.  Start where you are .. start today.

Tracking our food doesn't have to look like dedicated time to sit down and write it out

Instead .. take a step back and look outside the box.  You'll be surprised by all of the little chunks of time there truly are in our days.   A few ideas?  Maybe you have a long commute on the bus .. or a train stops you every morning and you find yourself sitting at a railroad crossing.  Or you're standing in line at Target or the grocery.

Any time you're waiting .. you have time

These apps can help

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I can't work out .. I'm injured

Rely on your ritual

There is nothing tidy about life and injuries are bound to happen.  As those of us who have coached others will attest .. this is a time that's easy for people to unravel (probably because we attach exercise so heavily to weight loss)

For the times your body fails you .. take deep breaths .. re-emerge gently .. pour some tea .. and let your mind take over instead

Every day at noon I drop the puppies off at for their afternoon play date .. stop at the Co-Op for a smoothie (a scoop of protein powder, please) .. drive the same route through campus .. and wave to the kids working the front desk while I search for my pass.  Even on the weekends .. I feel the itch to go for a walk in the early afternoon

“If I can't work this body part .. what other parts can I do instead?”

There is a man who's a paraplegic and happens to be on a similar schedule.  If you want to know how to work your upper body .. he's you guy

Maybe you're too physically sick to go to the gym?  You can focus on your food instead.  In this moment what's the most nourishing thing I can feed my body?

It’s easy to see your limitations if that’s what you choose to focus on

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce - Quick, glamorous, from-scratch vegetarian lasagna? Yes, please!I can't work out .. I don't have time

A pair of shoes and only a few minutes. This is perhaps all you need to exercise.  Forget the fancy software .. the convoluted methods.  Find what works for you .. then whittle it down to the bare essentials

“I can't go to the gym for my hour-long workout .. but no worries .. I can .. ”

Do three push-ups in the morning.  Walk around my office building every time I go to the bathroom.  Park farther away from the office and walk.  Do one extra circle around the grocery while I'm shopping.  Do five extra air-squats whenever I let the puppies out.

Like your body.  Respect it .. treat it well.  Go easy on it.  Don't demand too much from it .. nor too little.  Enjoy its company for the time you spend together.  Don't limit yourself.  If there are days when you aren't able to do what you normally do:

“What can I do instead?  Where can I squeeze a little extra bit of movement into my day?”

Let that be your mission .. instead of throwing up your hands in defeat

These apps can help


I can’t lose weight while I'm on vacation

There is nothing tidy about losing weight or developing healthier habits .. especially when you're on vacation.

It's messy .. and like most good things .. it gets harder before you find your rhythm.  Wade deep anyway .. there's a sea of different ways it can be done.  Try them out.  Learn from them.  Use what worked.  Wear boots.

You can lose weight (or at the very least maintain)

There's a big difference between being focused .. and saying “who cares” while eating everything in sight.  You're looking for that sweet spot somewhere in the middle .. the place where you're feeding your body well the majority of the time .. while still allowing a few treats and indulgences and keeping your weight the same

A new paradigm of sorts.  One in which the middle ground will be your point of focus (if it hasn't been before).  Therefore .. devote your attention to daily actions you can take.  Losing weight is a byproduct of all of these little decisions

“What can I do through healthy habits while I'm on vacation?  I can .. “

Take control of my actions at each mealtime.  Drink enough water.  Eat vegetables at each meal.  Feed myself consistency throughout the day.  Allow for one small treat every day

— — —

What if people or circumstances in your life cause you so much stress and anxiety that it's triggered dysfunctional eating?  What can we do then?

( .. to be continued .. )

Photo Credit: Everyday People Cartoons

I've been participating as part of the  Iowa Food and Family Project‘s blogger team in this year's annual Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Challenge

My progress report after week 5?

Total minutes of activity this week = 240    and Overall = 2650   (a combination of walking, kickboxing, yoga, resistance class, and weight lifting)

Total pounds lost this week = -1.9  and Overall = 11.3

If there was ever was a challenging week .. this was it.  It's been a long time since I've been this sick .. for so many days.  My goodness .. every time I thought “I've rounded the corner” .. I realized .. “Nope .. not yet .. go back to bed”

( .. to be continued .. )

Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce - Quick, glamorous, from-scratch vegetarian lasagna? Yes, please!

When you live in a neighborhood like ours .. word spreads quickly when someone is in need of a helping hand.  It wasn't long before hot bubbly casseroles and homemade bread started appearing on our doorstep.  Along with them .. stories of others in the neighborhood who've also been struggling with this terrible bug

So today .. when I finally felt well enough to be in the kitchen .. I spent that afternoon paying forward a fraction their kindness.  By late afternoon .. delivering a couple hot & bubbly pans of my own .. to others who haven't yet to made it to the other side.

The next time you are in the mood for something creamy, rich, terribly decadent and uncompromisingly delicious .. without it being a complete nutritional train wreck .. this is your recipe.  Roasted butternut squash is blended with ricotta .. shallots .. garlic .. and parmesan.  It's then tucked into individual rolls and baked in brechemel sauce.

Rather than making a large tray .. I like to make them into rolls for better portion control.

Flash forward third minutes and out of the oven comes a beautiful .. golden-topped pan of something that is lasagna-esque in nature .. or close enough.

They're a tad off-beat .. and they're great.

A few notes about the recipe:

To save time .. you can always buy pre-cut squash from the freezer section at the grocery

The pine nut gremolata is also amazing sprinkled on roasted veggies .. veggie pizzas .. or even ricotta toast



ps:  I'm participating as part of the  Iowa Food and Family Project‘s blogger team in this year's annual Live Healthy Iowa 10 Week Challenge.  More stories from the Challenge can be found here 

~ Adapted slightly from GFF Magazine | Fall 2016

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Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce
  • Lasagna Rolls
  • 3 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced into ½ inch cubes (~ 4 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
  • 9 lasagna noodles (to make this gluten free, use gluten-free noodle of choice)
  • 15 oz whole-milk ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp lemon zest
  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp coarsely grated fontina cheese
  • 1½ cups béchamel sauce

  • Green Béchamel Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup firmly packed baby spinach
  • 1½ cups béchamel sauce
  • 1 recipe Pine Nut Gremolata

  • Béchamel Sauce
  • 5 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 5 Tbsp flour (I used whole wheat pastry .. although any gluten-free flour of your choice will work great)
  • 4 cups milk
  • fine grain sea salt
  • pinch or two of nutmeg

  • Pine Nut Gremolata
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ tsp orange zest
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  1. Lasagna Rolls
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 450 deg F
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

  4. On the prepared baking sheet, toss the squash with olive oil, a strong pinch of sea salt, and a grind of black pepper. Roast, stirring halfway through cooking, until tender and browned in some places, (~20-25 min)
  5. Set aside to cool

  6. Turn the oven down to 375 deg F.
  7. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. (Have a bowl of ice water at the ready)
  8. Cook the noodles until al dente and plunge them into the ice water
  9. Drain, placing one layer on a baking sheet, and cover with a damp towel until needed

  10. In a bowl, mix together the butternut squash, ricotta, egg, nutmeg, lemon zest, and Parmigiano-Reggiano until combined.
  11. Season with a pinch of sea salt

  12. Spread ¼ cup of the squash mix on each of the lasagna noodles, leaving a 1" border on both ends
  13. Sprinkle each noodle with 2 Tbsp of the fontina cheese

  14. Spread ½ cup béchamel on the bottom of a 9" square baking dish or cake pan.
  15. Roll each noodle lengthwise and place it seam side down into the dish
  16. Drizzle 1 cup béchamel over the rolls, cover loosely with foil, and bake until bubbling and brown (~ 40 min)
  17. Turn on the broiler and broil for ~ 3 minutes and let it rest for 5 minutes

  18. Green Béchamel Sauce
  19. In a small saute pan, melt the butter with the sage over medium-high heat
  20. Add the spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until the spinach is wilted and soft (~ 1 to 2 minutes)
  21. In a blender, puree the spinach mix with the béchamel sauce
  22. Gently reheat the sauce just prior to serving and season to taste with sea salt

  23. To Serve
  24. Place a few spoonfuls of green béchamel on each dinner plate
  25. Top with a lasagna roll, sprinkle with gremolata, and serve

  26. Béchamel Sauce
  27. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat
  28. Add the flour and thick for 90 seconds to combine
  29. Whisk in the milk, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly
  30. Lower the heat and simmer while stirring, for 10 minutes longer
  31. Season with sea salt and the nutmeg

  32. Pine Nut Gremolata
  33. In a small bowl, add the parsley, garlic, pine nuts, and orange zest.
  34. Stir to combine

The post Butternut Squash Lasagna Rolls with Green Béchamel Sauce appeared first on Veggies By Candlelight.

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