Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My kids devoured this, not even knowing it was squash and spinach.

Once you have the sauce prepared, it comes together quickly. You can make a large batch of the Butternut Garlic Sauce and freeze for future use.

Spinach Butternut Squash Lasagna

(Serves about 10-12)


Olive oil for drizzling
1 ¼ lb ground turkey or lean ground beef
½ tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tsp chopped, fresh sage leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
12 whole grain lasagna noodles, cooked
4 cups fresh, baby spinach leaves chopped
3-4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


-Preheat the oven to 350 and have a 12”x 10”x 2” (roughly) baking dish on hand.

-Place a large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat, add 2 Tbsp oil, add the meat into the pan next, add in the Italian seasoning, the salt, pepper and the garlic and stir to incorporate. Cook meat for a few minutes until cooked through and no longer pink. Remove from heat and stir in the fresh sage. Set aside to cool.

-To assemble the lasagna, add about 1 cup of the Butternut Sauce (recipe below) to the bottom of the baking dish. Next, add a row of cooked lasagna noodles over the sauce and then add another 1 cup of the sauce over top of the noodles. Next, add about half of the cooked meat, followed by 2 cups of the baby spinach leaves. Then sprinkle over about 1 cup worth of the mozzarella cheese, repeat the layering process. Finish the lasagna by adding the remaining lasagna noodles and the remaining sauce over top. Next, smooth sauce over the noodles and finish by sprinkling the remaining 1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese over the top. Add the remaining ½ tsp of Italian seasoning over the cheese. Place the lasagna into the oven and bake for roughy 30-35 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly golden. Serve while hot!

Creamy, Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Sauce


(Can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated and/or frozen)

Olive oil for drizzling
3 heads garlic roasted
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
4 lbs butternut squash
1 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
1 ½ cups low sodium chicken stock, warm
1 ½ cups low fat milk, warm
4 ounces low fat cream cheese, warm
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese


-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

-Slice butternut squash in half, remove seeds and baste with olive oil and pinch of salt. Turn face down on baking sheet. Toss garlic heads in oil, pinch of salt, then wrap in foil and place along side butternut squash. Roast along side for about 30-35 minutes or until a fork can be inserted into the squash. Remove from the oven and allow squash and garlic to cool slightly. Peel skin from squash and discard skin. Place 1/3 of squash and 1/3 of garlic into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Place puree into a large pot. Repeat steps with remaining squash and garlic. *Note- you may need to add 1/2 cup of chicken stock to blender if puree is too thick.

-Place the pot with the puree on low heat, add in (remaining) chicken stock and milk, stir to incorporate. Next, add cream cheese, parmesan, the remaining 1 tsp of salt and stir to combine until cheese is melted. Remove from heat. Use immediately or refrigerate/freeze.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

“Save your pennies” was a phrase commonly heard in my house growing up. “If you want it badly enough, you’ll need to use YOUR money.” It made me stop and think how long it would take to earn that money or is the wanted item/s really what I wanted.

Whether on the radio, watching TV or on the Internet, we are inundated with advertisements for things we just have to have: the newest electronics, the latest fashions and coolest toys.

It is hard to push aside the common desire for immediate gratification and pleasing others through “things”. In an era of credit cards, we don’t often “feel it” until the bill comes. When we give into impulse spending and overspending, what message are we giving our children and reinforcing in ourselves?

“The worst aspect of overspending at Christmas is that it can educate children to expect funding from their parents, at the cost of real love. There is a term in psychology about creating 'hungry children'. The child says: 'Can I have...?' and you give them what they ask for. But, instead of satisfying them, you create a hunger in them. You can't feed them enough." Dr. Michael Carroll: Bristol University.

I get excited when I see a good deal. I love finding a great bargain, paired with a coupon, and a rebate (utilize rebate and coupon apps!). How much do I really need? Ask yourself, “do I/they really NEED it?”

Making an impulse purchase is like taking a bite of a favorite food. We indulge and savor the flavors, but when the excitement is over, we look for something else to bring back the “high”. Repeated spending doesn’t bring lasting happiness, just a cycle that potentially leads to unwanted debt and stress.

Here are 5 ways to make healthy spending choices during the holidays:

1. Set a realistic budget and keep a finance sheet: Don’t try to “keep up with the Jones”. Try a cash only budget vs. using a card. Track all purchases so you can monitor your spending.

2. Service project or donate gifts: Choose to donate some of your budget to buying gifts or doing service for others. This turns the focus from “what do I get” to “what can I give”.

3. Make your gifts: The internet is full of $10 and under DIY gifts. We love giving “service” coupons in my family (i.e. “coupon–good for a foot massage.”).

4. Clean house and avoid impulse buys: For each item you plan to purchase or bring home, donate two items to charity. Don’t bring it home just because it’s a good deal.

5. Make a list of needs vs. wants: Make lists with your children with wants and needs, then, as a parent, decide the number of gifts each will receive.