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In a Nutshell

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One of my favorite veggie dishes- an Italian classic but in this case it´s vegan and can easily be adapted for paleo, keto and whole 30 diets as well. Made with a vegan cheesy sauce from cashews quickly whipped up in the NutraMilk- its such a flavorful and nourishing dish- we love it!


  • 3 medium eggplants sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for brushing

For the marinara sauce:

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 small zucchini and or summer squash, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (optional – omit for keto diet)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tbsp. bread crumbs or almond meal (for keto) for sprinkling

For the vegan cheese sauce:

  • 3/4 cups raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juices
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil


  • Preheat the oven to broil, set to high. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets.
  • Generously salt the eggplant and place in a colander. Let sit and sweat for about 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce by heating oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and zucchini and let cook for 1 minute. Add red bell peppers, tomato sauce, thyme, oregano, basil, balsamic vinegar, and granulated sugar. Cook and stir for a few more minutes.

  • Wipe or dab the eggplant with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Arrange the eggplant on the baking sheet and brush with oil. Broil for 4 to 6 minutes until browned on top.

  • While eggplant is broiling, make the mozzarella sauce.
  • In the NutraMilk, combine cashews and water. Process until very smooth. Add lemon juice, salt, garlic onion powder, and corn starch.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 350F degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch pan.

To assemble the casserole:

  • Arrange half of the eggplant slices, overlapping the slices, in the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of bread crumbs or almond meal. Layer half of the cooked quinoa (optional), half the tomato sauce, and half of the mozzarella sauce on top of the bread crumbs.

  • Repeat the layers. Bake, uncovered for 20-30 minutes, until hot and bubbly. Top with fresh basil and serve. Enjoy!

Prepared and photographed by NutraMilk nutritionist, Florencia Tagliavini.

Recipe inspired by Layers of Happiness.