Since January, I have been training for the full Toronto Marathon in May. In the past I’ve run a 15 and a half marathon without too much training, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to get away with that for a full marathon. So, I locked myself into full training mode for 19 weeks, including a strict diet that is based on what has worked best for my body during detoxes, and the kind of food my body needs to energize and repair itself. For me, this meant no alcohol, coffee, processed sugar, gluten, chicken/beef/pork – for various reasons but for the most part based on digestion and energy. At first, I was going to avoid all red meat, but later decided that a little bit of lamb would be very beneficial throughout the training period. While red meat is hard on my digestion system, it is also important to build strong, lean muscles and to help the body absorb vitamins. Besides the fact that my husband loves lamb, lamb is the best kind of red meat you can have. Although it is high in cholesterol (hence, “a little”), it is the lowest in sodium and is rich in zinc and iron.
During this time, I have also been taking the Culinary Arts 1 course at George Brown College and have since discovered the secret to making the perfect lasagna. By alternating between horizontal and vertical noodles, mixing the parmesan and mozzarella together and adding the ricotta to the sauce – all these elements fuse together to prevent the unfortunate “lasagna spillage “that often occurs. I switched up some of the ingredients to make the lasagna marathon-diet-friendly, and came up with a delicious post-run meal, full of good carbs and protein to replenish and comfort the tired body. And, as a bonus, my husband was so happy to finally eat some meat he didn’t complain once about the brown rice pasta!
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water - approx 7 minutes, being careful not to overcook; brown rice pasta tears very easily.
Spread a couple of tablespoons of olive oil onto a baking sheet. When pasta is ready, drain and spread sheets of pasta flat on baking sheet.
Heat saute pan to high. Flatten meat and place in pan, turning down the heat to medium low. Slowly break up the meat with a wooden spoon until just cooked. Meat should be greyish in colour, not brown, so that the vegetable flavours can marry with the meat.
Add all vegetables and garlic, turning heat back up a bit. Saute until just cooked, shiny but still a bit crunchy.
Sprinkle flour over meat and vegetables. Mix well.
Add tomato paste and mix well.
Add herbs and chilis and mix well.
Add diced tomatoes and simmer over low to medium heat until sauce thickens, but still has some liquid. Add more tomato paste if necessary.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Turn off heat and stir in ricotta.
Cover the bottom of a large casserole dish with a thin layer of sauce. Trim noodles and place vertically across the casserole dish. Layer 1/3 of the sauce over top.
Combine mozarella and parmesan cheeses together. Layer 1/3 of the cheese over top of the sauce.
For the next layer, place noodles horizontally across, followed by another layer of trimmed, vertical noodles.
Layer 1/3 of the sauce over top, being sure to cover the noodles well. Layer 1/3 of the cheese over top of the sauce.
For the top layer, place noodles horizontally across followed by the rest of the sauce, being sure to cover the noodles well. Shake casserole dish slightly to disperse sauce evenly.
Top with the rest of the cheese.
Bake at 375F for 30 minutes, covered. Then uncover and bake at 325F for another 15 minutes until browned. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving.