Butternut squash and arugula lasagna | Diabetes recipe

No matter what time of year it is, everyone could use a good comfort meal every now and again. Unfortunately for people with diabetes, those meals usually carry very real health implications. They’re usually very high in carbs, fats or sugars, making them tricky to work into a balanced diabetes diet.

10 February 2021

What if we told you there’s a vegetarian diabetes recipe that checks all the boxes of a good comfort meal, without spiking your blood sugar? This vegetarian Italian lasagna gives you the best of both worlds: it’s hearty and satisfying, with all the nutrition of a vegetarian meal.

Why this is a great dinner for people with diabetes

Lasagna is a classic comfort food, but it can be remarkably high in fat and sodium. Here we substitute pasta sauce for the healthier and heartier option of mashed butternut squash. Butternut squash is a dietary all-star, packed with fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C, among others. It will leave you full and content, and give you a good deal of vitamins and minerals, too!

A little low-fat cheese never hurt anyone, but what makes this recipe particularly crave-worthy is the addition of chopped pecans. They add a satisfying texture and subtle flavor in between the layers of noodles and butternut squash. Pecans are also a low-glycemic food that reduce your “bad” LDL cholesterol and keep your heart healthy. It’s a win for your taste buds and for your health!

While this is a filling meal on its own, it’s even better when served over a bed of mixed greens. You can get several servings of veggies all in one hearty sitting — truly a comfort meal you can take comfort in eating!

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 6 lasagna sheets
  • 2 small butternut squashes, peeled and cubed or 1 ¾ lb butternut cubes
  • 1 ½ tsp vegetable or chicken bouillon
  • 45 c water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 ½ c fresh arugula leaves or, for a milder flavor, baby spinach leaves
  • 1 oz pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 c low-fat mozzarella cheese, coarsely grated
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ground nutmeg

Nutritional values per serving:

Calories 372
Protein 15 g
Fat 12 g
Carbohydrates 57 g
Fiber 6 g
Cholesterol 20 mg
Sodium 481 mg

How to make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Place lasagna sheets next to each other on a sufficiently large baking sheet, and cover with boiling water to soften the pasta. Set aside.
  3. Place the cubed butternut in a glass bowl and sprinkle with the vegetable or chicken bouillon. Add the water, cover with a microwave-safe lid and microwave for 15 minutes on high until tender enough to mash. Or boil in a saucepan on the stove until tender.
  4. Mash the butternut together with the stock and season lightly with salt and pepper. It should be quite sloppy. If not, add a little more boiling water.
  5. Spoon one third of the butternut mash into a lightly greased 2 qt oven-proof serving dish.
  6. Remove the lasagna sheets from the water, pat dry with a paper towel, and place two sheets of the softened pasta on top of the butternut mash and top with a generous layer of fresh arugula (about half of the leaves).
  7. Spoon another third of the butternut mash, add another two sheets of pasta and sprinkle with half the chopped pecans.
  8. Top with the other half of the arugula and then the last two sheets of softened pasta.
  9. Spread the remaining butternut mash over the pasta and sprinkle with the rest of the pecans.
  10. Cover and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Or microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  11. Remove the lasagna from the oven or microwave and top evenly with the mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with a little nutmeg. Turn the oven to broil and place the lasagna back in the oven until the cheese is lightly browned.
  12. Serve on a bed of mixed greens as a complete meal.


For a little extra flavor, try adding chopped, sun-dried tomatoes to the first layer of butternut mash. Non-vegetarians can count this as the starch and vegetable or simply add a portion of grilled lean meat for a complete meal.

Recipe and picture taken from the low GI, low fat recipe book by registered dietitians Gabi Steenkamp and Liesbet Delport, Eating for Sustained Energy 4 (Tafelberg).