Monday, February 4, 2013

Lasagne with Bean Sauce

I've been embarking on a personal exploration of the world of beans. I want to educate myself on this yummy, diverse, and cheap source of protein. My mother cooked beans as I grew up, mostly pinto or black beans in soups or refried, occasionally white beans in a baked bean recipe, split pea soup, or green lentil soup. That's already a pretty good repertoire. But I have realized there are so many more kinds of beans and pulses beyond that. As it happens, since my husband is Indian I have a connection to a whole world of beans and pulses of which I had previously no idea. I'll be posting some Indian recipes, but for now here is a Lasagne with Bean Sauce recipe that I have adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Book, a wonderful healthy cook book that has been around for 27 years and is a good staple in a crunchy kitchen. I need to start using it rather than Pinterest all the time! I served this recipe to some other crunchy friends and they enjoyed it.
This is actually the leftovers-- I forgot to take a pic when it was fresh. You can see a garbanzo on the top.
Some notes about the sauce. You can use a combination of fresh tomato puree or canned tomato sauce. You can also choose to add mushrooms, eggplant, or zucchini in place of or in addition to the beans. I added zucchini, stir-frying it with the onions first. If you plan ahead it is easy enough to soak 1 cup of dried beans in the morning, boil them in the afternoon, and use them in the sauce rather than using canned beans.

Bean Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • optional mushrooms, zucchini,or eggplant
  • 2 cups cooked beans (red, brown, or chickpeas, home-cooked or canned), drained and coarsely chopped (or given short pulses in a food processor)
  • 4 cups tomato puree or 2 cups tomato sauce and 2 cups puree. You can use canned tomato sauce. Fresh gives the sauce a lighter and fresher flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • black pepper and salt to taste
Prepare the sauce by heating the oil in a medium saucepan and sauteeing the garlic and onions and any other optional vegetables you may have added. Add the chopped beans and cook and stir for a couple more minutes. Add the tomato puree or sauce with the herbs and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes (make sure it thickens especially if you used tomato puree, which is more watery.) Salt to taste.

Remaining ingredients:
  • 3/4 pound lasagne noodles. Brody recommends quick noodles if you don't want to cook them. I used 16 regular noodles and just soaked them in hot water rather than boiling them.
  • 2 cups ricotta or small-curd cottage cheese
  • 8 oz. mozarella, grated
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan

To assemble the lasagne, spread a thin layer of the bean sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Arrange a layer of noodles along the bottom of the pan to cover the sauce. (I squeezed in three lengthwise and one horizontally at the bottom.) Cover the noodles with half the ricotta, one-third of the mozzarella, and one third of the remaining sauce. Repeat this layering with the noodles, ricotta, mozarella and sauce. Finish off the third layer with the remaining noodles, sauce, mozarella, and Parmesan on top.

Cover the pan with foil. Bake at 350 for 40-60 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. (On the shorter end if you pre-soaked the noodles.) If there is too much liquid remaining in the pan, remove the foil and bake another 10-15 minutes.

Our Elimination Communication Experience: Part Two

 Right after writing my last post about EC, I had a bunch of "misses" with Jedidiah. God has a way of keeping me humble, haha! Sometimes we intentionally let him poop in his diaper, such as when we are out of the house traveling. When we went to my parents' house over Christmas, this disrupted our schedule and communication somewhat and we had to re-adjust upon coming home. Misses are a part of EC, obviously, but even now when we have misses, much of the time it is because I didn't follow a cue, neglected a timing, or ignored my intuition that he is going to "go."


What are the cues like? Cues include grunting, doubling up a bit, looking focused or red in the face, fussing suddenly when he's not probably hungry, squirming, plucking at the nipple or suddenly losing interest while breastfeeding. This may sound like it includes a lot of normal baby activity, but that is where intuition comes in. Usually if I think or wonder "does he have to go?" It is a good time to take him. Of course, there are "pooportunities" where he doesn't go.  Those have grown somewhat less as we have gotten better at it.

Timing involves knowing when are likely times that he will poop. Most mothers will easily come to know her baby's natural schedule, including when he needs to eat and sleep. His needs to poop fit in with eating and sleeping, as he usually poops soon after eating or waking up. He usually poops at some point in the night between 4 and 6 am, and I know that is what he wants because he is not interested in the nipple and fusses and squirms. Sometimes at one of these opportunities where he goes a little but is not able to get everything out. When I set him on the changing table and let him stretch and move his legs, this sometimes loosens him up so that when I offer again he is able to go.

Sometimes Avinash and I wonder out loud "does he have to go?" and then we remind each other -- "follow your intuition!" Intuition is part of the whole art of EC. There is no formula for it, but sometimes we can just know when our baby has to go.


The potty that I use is called the the Pourty, which has a nice lip for pouring without dripping. It is too large for Jedidiah to sit on himself and he feels uncomfortable when I try sitting him on it. He is not yet sitting on his own anyway, so I still have to hold him. I hold his thighs with his back against me so he is facing out and rarely get anything on my clothes. The Pourty works pretty well for this except that I have to hold him above those prong-like things. It is not perfect for EC but it is working for us.

There are a couple books out there about EC or Infant Potty Training. I read an e-book from I liked the author Charnda's approach and attitude, though some of the material was repetitive. She shared various tips and perspectives that I found helpful. also has help and ways to contact mentors in your area.


The author of Part Time Diaper-Free stresses that you can practice EC in whatever form you choose. Some people try to go all the way diaper-free. We have chosen to focus on poop rather than all his elimination. Of course, sometimes when we give him an opportunity he pees rather than poops, but we don't aim to catch all his pees. Being relaxed with how much you want to practice EC is important. This can become a way to put undue expectations on ourselves as parents and, at a very early age, upon our children. "Getting" the baby to behave and poop where we want him to is not our mentality. When there are misses, of course we wish we had caught them, but they are not his fault and we need to just relax and be ready for the next time.

In line with this, the reason to practice EC is not primarily to use less diapers. Of course I hope this happens, but I think we use a similar number of cloth diapers or even perhaps more. This is because we tend to change a wet diaper whenever we open his diaper and that happens more often when we give him opportunities. It should not be primarily to help Jedidiah be potty-trained early, even though I hope that happens once he can walk. The biggest disadvantage of EC is that takes more time than just changing dirty diapers, and though I hope that time will be repaid if he is trained early, it can't be my main motivation. My purpose and motivation has become the pleasure of communicating and bonding with Jedidiah and of keeping him clean. The satisfaction of helping him go in the potty is enough for now.