find your perfect blend
Hi, my name’s still Tess, and I’m still a blendaholic and even more convinced that the blender’s the greatest tool for making delicious, beautiful, healthy fast food. And, it’s the power of plants to energize and revitalize, in endless blended combos, that gets me most excited. My readers, in e-mails by the truckload, have asked for recipes geared to specific health outcomes. They inspired me to choose my top twelve ways of looking at food, and to create recipes to help us achieve those goals.
I’m a cook, not a nutritionist, and because I enjoy virtually all plant-based foods, deciding which ones to feature posed a challenge. I went with ingredients I love and that help me stay in optimal health. Rather than serving up a comprehensive analysis of the nutritional properties and virtues of each of these hero foods, I’ve shared a few top-line takeaways—practical information on their health benefits, and how to prepare, blend, and cook them for amazing textures and tastes. All my heroes boast more than one special power, and they work in combination, not just on their own. Many of them belong in multiple categories, or even in all twelve. The main food chart, on pages 2 and 3, serves as a guide, covering diverse nutrient-dense foods that create a balanced, healthy diet.
The variety of foods and kick-ass recipes in this book aim to inspire us to eat well and have fun. As cooks, eaters, and bodies, we’re all unique, with different needs and preferences. This food is functional and geared toward flexibility, so you can tailor the recipes to your own taste and requirements.
The optional boosters listed for each recipe enhance flavor and/or nutrition. I’ve chosen them to work on their own or together, so you can supplement any base recipe with one, two, or all three.
Grab your blender, choose your own adventure, and discover what makes the perfect blend . . . for you.
Since lasagna’s ubiquitous, why cook up yet one more version if not to make it spectacular? I revel in the raves from everyone who’s tried this healthier take on mamma’s classic. (Check out the photo on page 132.) Meaty and cheezy, moist but not runny, the dish holds together beautifully—just let it cool for 15 minutes before cutting. Like most lasagnas, it’s a 3-hour traipse through the Italian countryside. A perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, so I’ll mention one unlisted optional booster: the last glass of red from Saturday night to sip as you slave!
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
16 firmly packed cups (704g) baby spinach
3 cups (750g) Really Good Ricotta
1 large eggplant, peeled lengthwise every 1⁄2 inch (12mm), and then sliced into 1⁄4-inch rounds
1 1⁄2 teaspoons natural salt, plus more to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 medium zucchinis, sliced into 1⁄4-inch rounds
7 cups (1.75k) Terrific Tomato Sauce
24 gluten-free vegan oven-ready lasagna noodles about 1 1⁄2 (10-ounce/280g) packages
1⁄2 cup (25g) firmly packed finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33cm) baking dish with olive oil.
In a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sauté the spinach for 5 to 7 minutes, until completely wilted. You may have to do this in batches. Allow to cool. Squeeze the liquid out of the spinach until it’s as dry as possible. You should have about 2 cups (220g) of spinach. Roughly chop the spinach, stir it into the ricotta, and set aside. You should have about 4 cups (960g) of the spinach-ricotta mixture.
In a large bowl, toss the eggplant slices with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1⁄8 teaspoon of the pepper, and the oregano, thyme, and basil boosters.
In another bowl, toss the zucchini slices with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt, and 1⁄8 teaspoon of pepper.
Spread 1 cup (250g) of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the baking dish. Then, lay one-third of the noodles in a single snug layer on top of the tomato sauce. Spoon half of the spinach-ricotta mixture over the noodles and spread evenly. Next, lay half of the eggplant rounds (so they are touching but not overlapping) in rows, filling the surface with one layer. Layer half of the zucchini rounds on the eggplant. Top with 2 cups (500g) of the tomato sauce and spread evenly. Place another layer of noodles on top. Spoon 2 cups of the spinach-ricotta mix on top and layer on the remaining eggplant rounds, the remaining zucchini rounds, 2 cups of the tomato sauce, and the remaining noodles. Top with the remaining 2 cups (500g) of sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 11⁄4 hours, or until the vegetables are cooked through.
Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and cut into eight pieces.
nutritional facts (per serving)
calories 448 kcal | fat 21.7 g | saturated fat 3.2 g | sodium 1884 mg | carbs 53.3 g | fiber 11.1 g | sugars 14.7 g | protein 17.1 g | calcium 280.6 mg | iron 7 mg