Lightened Up Lasagna Cups

Makes 6 Servings

Often times, when we think of Italian food, rich, heavy, starchy dishes with pasta and cheese come to mind. Lasagna is a perfect example, and oftentimes is accompanied by garlic bread on the side. Many recipes reduce the meat or cheese in lasagna recipes to decrease calories, however these ingredients are full of valuable protein. Protein is an essential nutrient that has many important functions, most commonly known for being the building block of our muscles. It also helps to build antibodies to protect us against infections. In addition, protein is more effective than carbohydrates in decreasing hunger and providing satiety. It promotes stable blood sugar, so it is beneficial to include some protein at every mealtime. However, many protein rich foods are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, so be sure to choose low-fat varieties when available and avoid consuming too much protein overall. Speak with a registered dietitian to find out how much protein you need to reach your personal health goals.

Ingredients:

1 lb. Southern Foods At Home All-Natural Ground Beef
¼ cup jarred tomato sauce
2 bell peppers, assorted colors, cut into thins strips
½ yellow onion, cut into thin strips
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese
1 cup liquid egg whites
1 tsp. crushed fennel
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
12 cup muffin tin
Nonstick cooking spray
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a nonstick skillet, sauté peppers, onions, and garlic. Add balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until onions become translucent. Set aside.
2. Cook ground beef in same skillet. To reduce fat, drain beef in a colander, and then move to a plate lined with paper towels. Let sit for one minute, and blot ground beef with paper towels.
3. Move ground beef back to skillet on low-heat, and add tomato sauce and spices. Cook 1 minute or until warm.
4. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray. Add a thin layer of egg whites to each cup. Top with a layer of ricotta cheese, followed by a sprinkle of mozzarella, and a spoonful of the ground beef. Repeat starting with the egg whites. Top with the sautéed pepper and onion mixture, followed by a sprinkle of mozzarella.
5. Baked for 20 minutes covered with aluminum foil, followed by 10 minutes uncovered.
6. Enjoy lasagna cups with a salad and a slice of garlic bread if desired.

Nutrition Information (per 2 cups): 250 calories, 9 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 35 grams of protein

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