This beef moussaka recipe is healthy comfort food at its best. It's packed with veggies & protein and free of gluten and dairy.
I love this recipe for several reasons.
First, it's delicious. Moussaka has been a big hit with my own family and I love introducing my little ones to different spice blends and flavor profiles!
Second, this recipe feels special to me because it came directly from a subscriber request and went on to be a huge hit on our meal plans. We love asking our subscribers for feedback and suggestions and last year someone requested we add moussaka to the meal plans. Well, we did and many told us it was one of their new favorite Prep Dish recipes!
If you've never heard of moussaka, don't worry. While it's Greek in origin, it's full of familiar ingredients like beef, eggplant and tomatoes. The recipe then calls for spices like cinnamon and allspice that give it its signature flavor profile.
Finally, I use cashew cream in place of bechamel to make this version totally dairy-free and paleo-friendly. I hope you love it!
Healthy Beef Moussaka Recipe
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 small onion
- 1 # grass fed ground beef
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 15 oz diced tomatoes
- 1 eggplant
For the Cashew Cream:
- Heat 2 cups water in a kettle until boiling. Pour over 1 cup cashews in a small bowl and allow to soak for ~30 mins.
- In a blender add cashews & ~1/4 cup cashew water.
- Add 1/4 tsp garlic powder & 1/4 tsp salt. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
For the Moussaka:
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Slice eggplant thinly, longways, ~1/4 inch thick. Roast on a sheet pan for ~10 minutes until lightly browned.
- Mince 3 cloves garlic and dice 1 yellow onion.
- In a large sauté pan, add 1# ground beef, 1T minced garlic and diced onion. Cook for ~5-6 minutes, breaking apart meat.
- Add 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp allspice, 1 tsp paprika and 1/2 tsp salt and cook an additional 1-2 mins.
- Stir in 15 oz can diced tomatoes, cook an additional 1-2 mins.
- Remove from heat.
- In a 3-quart baking dish or 9-inch square pan, layer ½ of the eggplant, top with ½ of beef mixture, then layer the other ½ of eggplant and the other ½ of beef. Top with cashew cream.
- Bake ~25 minutes until bubbling and hot.
What is the nutrition like in this Beef Moussaka recipe?
As you can probably tell by glancing at the ingredient list, this beef moussaka recipe is packed with nutrition. Here are some of the nutritional highlights:
Cashews (Copper, Magnesium, Manganese, Antioxidants)
While generally thought of as nuts, cashews are actually seeds. Their nutrients make them good for bone health, brain health and immunity. Cashews are also high in antioxidants and may benefit weight loss efforts, blood sugar levels and heart health.
Frequently used in traditional medicine, cinnamon is good for your heart and also may help stabilize blood sugar. Research also suggests that cinnamon may help lower cholesterol.
Garlic (Beneficial Sulfur Compounds, Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Selenium)
Garlic has been used in homeopathic remedies for thousands of years and is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and some types of cancer. Eating garlic may also help prevent colds and other minor illnesses.
Scientists believe these substantial health benefits may stem primarily from garlic's sulfur compounds such as allicin, diallyl disulfide and s-allyl cysteine.
Onion (Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Antioxidants)
Did you know that the humble onion is actually packed with antioxidants? Yellow and red onions offer the highest antioxidant content. Eating onions may support blood sugar regulation, increased bone density and reduced cancer risk.
Grass Fed Beef (B Vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Phosphorus, Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
All beef is of course packed with protein, but there are real nutritional differences between grain-fed and grass-fed beef. For instance, grass-fed beef actually has 5 times as much omega 3 fatty acids as its grain-fed counterpart! Moreover, grass-fed beef has more vitamin A and vitamin E.
Tomatoes (Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K1, Potassium, Folate)
Due to their high antioxidant content and their high lycopene content, in particular, eating tomatoes may help reduce cancer risk. Redder tomatoes tend to have more lycopene so make sure yours are nice and ripe. Furthermore, eating tomatoes along with a source of fat, like the olive oil and pine nuts in this recipe, can help you absorb up to four times as much lycopene.
Eggplant (Manganese, Folate, Potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C)
Because it contains many antioxidants, eating eggplant may help prevent heart disease. Due to their high fiber content, they may also help support blood sugar control. Eggplant also contains a plant compound known as SRGs (solasodine rhamnosyl glycosides) that may help fight cancer.
Does this easy Moussaka work for meal prep?
Yes! Moussaka is great for meal prep. Think of it as a sort of Mediterranean lasagna, a classic prep-ahead meal.
To prep ahead, follow the recipe up to step 8 and then store. All you'll have to do on the day you wish to serve is bake in the oven and enjoy!
How can I turn this into a vegan moussaka recipe?
Because I've already replaced the traditional bechamel sauce with cashew cream, you can easily convert this to a vegan moussaka recipe.
All you need to do is replace the ground beef with 1 can (1 1/2 cups) of green or brown lentils. Follow the rest of the recipe as written and you have a great vegetarian / vegan moussaka!
What if I don't like eggplant?
Don't like eggplant? Not a problem!
While eggplant is traditional in moussaka, you can certainly use other ingredients to suit your taste. I recommend trying zucchini or a mix of zucchini and thinly sliced potatoes.
If you're on the fence about eggplant though, I definitely urge you to give this recipe a try as written. Because the sauce and spices are so flavorful, many find they love this dish even if eggplant isn't usually a favorite.
What are some other healthy eggplant recipes for dinner?
Looking for more eggplant recipes for dinner? In my opinion, this is an often overlooked ingredient full of nutrition and flavor so I'm happy to help you out! Here are a few of my favorite recipes featuring eggplant:
Lasagna is a great way to serve eggplant if you have some family members who are less than enthusiastic about the ingredient. This classic comfort food dish makes eggplant more accessible to young palates. Including eggplant is also a nutritious way to lighten up what can sometimes be a heavy dish.
If you haven't had baba ganoush, this Lebanese eggplant dip should go right to the top of your “must-make” list. Similar in texture and use to hummus, it has a deep earthy flavor that's hard to beat. Try grilling the eggplant to add a bit of smokiness to the dish. Serve as an appetizer with pita chips or veggie sticks or use it on a wrap for some extra flavor and nutrition.
Okay, this is an older recipe and the picture doesn't do it justice but please don't let that deter you! The simple homemade pesto gives it so much flavor and it's pretty much the perfect summer meal. Serve with some crusty bread, gluten free pasta or a green salad.
Looking for more dairy free recipes? Check out my Tips on a Dairy Free Meal Plan!