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Healthy Comfort Food

It's been a rough week. Cook up a little something you can curl up with — without hardening your arteries.

Butternut squash, cut and cubed, ready to be cooked for a lasagne.
Butternut squash, cut and cubed, ready to be cooked for a lasagne. Photo Credit:nungning20 for Adobe Stock

No matter which side you're on (or if you've decided playing ostrich is the way to go), this has been one of the most stressful weeks in a year full of them. Turning to autumn recipes that keep us warm and cozy is a knee-jerk reaction to such anxious times — but the foods tend to be so loaded with calories and unhealthy fats that we're giving ourselves a temporary fix with long-term bad consequences. The internet comes to the rescue here, with numerous rejiggered recipes that bring comfort and cut out much of the bad. MDLinx recently compiled 10 Healthy Comfort Foods for Fall, including oven-baked chicken parmesan, chicken tikka masala, healthy meatloaf, fish and chips, and healthy pumpkin pie. The below from Longevity Live also sounds delish:

Butternut Squash Lasagne

(Makes one 9-by-13-inch casserole.)


1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into medium dice
1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fennel seed
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Béchamel sauce

4 cups whole milk
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
3 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
5 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour

For assembly

1 10-ounce package lasagna noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Make the filling:

Combine the squash, oil, cinnamon, fennel, salt and pepper in a large bowl and toss well. Transfer the squash to a baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven until squash is soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Return the squash mixture to the bowl and stir in the thyme. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the squash well but leave some chunkiness. Set aside.

Make the béchamel:

Heat the milk on medium temperature with nutmeg, salt and pepper until warm. In a separate small, thick-bottomed pan, melt the butter, being careful not to burn. Slowly whisk in the flour and sauté for a minute on low heat. Slowly whisk the warmed milk into the flour and butter mixture, making sure there are no lumps. Simmer on very low heat to ensure it does not burn while you are preparing to use it.

Prepare the noodles:

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Cool slightly.

Assemble and bake the butternut squash lasagna:

In a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, layer in béchamel sauce, then noodles, then the squash filling, and then the mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers using the remaining ingredients.

Pour the béchamel sauce on the top layer of noodles, spreading it to the edges. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top. Cover with parchment paper and foil. Bake for 40 minutes in a 350-degree oven. Uncover and bake 5 minutes more. Then let rest for 10 minutes.