Healthy recipeI love December, it’s the only month of the year when you feel justified in eating and drinking until your heart’s content (or your stomach at any rate!).

So when January rolls around it’s inevitable that we all start thinking about losing those pounds recently gained. Today my blog article has nothing to do with being a VA, but more to do with being a woman (apologies to our male readership!) and the annual weight-loss ritual we seem to put ourselves through.

What I love about January, is the fact that I seem to search out healthier alternatives to those classic dishes, and if you haven’t already come across this Skinny Beef Lasagna recipe by The Hairy Bikers*, then you’ve been missing out! It’s not only delicious and heart-warming (great for this time of year), but healthier and contains a lot fewer calories to the classic version.

Here’s what you need: (and sorry as I wanted to add my own piccie here, but it just didn’t do the dish as much justice!):

  • Skinny Beef Lasagna2 large leeks
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 carrots
  • 500g/1lb 2oz lean minced beef
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 150g/5½oz chestnut mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 150ml/¼ pint red wine
  • 200ml/7fl oz beef stock
  • 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 heaped tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500ml/18fl oz semi-skimmed milk
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g/2oz grated extra-mature cheddar
  • 25g/1oz finely grated Parmesan
  • 3 sliced vine tomatoes
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Here’s what to do:

  1. Trim the leeks so they’re the same width as the dish. Cut them length-ways through to the middle and open them out.
  2. Remove the inner narrower leaves from the centre of each leek and slice them up – pop them to one side.
  3. Separate the outer larger leaves as these will become your pasta.
  4. Finely chop half the onion and cut the other half into wedges. Thinly slice the celery and dice the carrots.
  5. Put the minced beef in a large non-stick frying pan with the sliced leeks, chopped onion, celery, carrots and garlic.
  6. Place the pan over a medium-high heat and fry without added fat for about 10 minutes until lightly coloured.
  7. Stir in the chopped mushrooms and cook for 2–3 minutes more. The pan should look fairly dry at this point.
  8. Sprinkle over the plain flour and stir in thoroughly to the mince and vegetables. Slowly stir in the red wine and beef stock.
  9. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato purée and dried oregano, and pop a bay leaf into the pan bringing it to a simmer. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
  10. Turn down the heat slightly and leave the mince to simmer for 20–30 minutes until rich and thick, stirring occasionally.
  11. While the mince is cooking, put the onion wedges in a saucepan with the remaining bay leaf. In a small bowl mix three tablespoons of the milk with the cornflour.
  12. Pour the rest of the milk into the pan with the onion wedges and set it over a low heat. Bring to a very gentle simmer and cook for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the milk to infuse for 10 minutes.
  13. Half fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the leek ‘lasagne’ and bring the water back to the boil.
  14. Cook the leeks for five minutes or until very tender. It is important that the leeks are tender or the lasagna will be tricky to cut later.
  15. Drain in a colander under running water until cold. Drain on kitchen paper or a clean tea towel.
  16. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  17. Remove the onion wedges and bay leaf from the infused milk with a slotted spoon and return the pan to the heat. Give the cornflour and milk mixture a good stir until it is smooth once more and pour it into the pan with the infused milk.
  18. Bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, stirring regularly until the sauce is smooth and thick.
  19. Season the sauce with a good grating of nutmeg and plenty of ground black pepper.
  20. If the sauce is a little too thick to pour easily, whisk in a couple more tablespoons of milk.
  21. Spoon a third of the mince mixture into a 2.5 litre lasagna dish. Top with a layer of blanched leeks. Repeat the layers twice more, finishing with leeks. Pour the white sauce over the leeks and top with the sliced tomatoes. Mix the cheddar and Parmesan cheese and sprinkle all over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden-brown and bubbling.

Then serve with a freshly dressed green salad or some steamed veggies. Enjoy!

* Recipe taken from The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight