Homemade marinara has always intimidated me. While it’s so easy to buy pre-made sauce at the store, if you look at the ingredients list, the jars are often full of sugar and preservatives. When we took a cooking class in Italy a few years ago, I discovered that making my own sauce is not nearly as difficult or time-consuming as I thought it would be.
This is not the recipe we learned how to make in Tuscany, but a variation I created one day while trying to use up some extra veggies I had in the fridge. This version gives the opportunity to add more flavor and some sweetness by using vegetables in the sauce. Since it all ends up pureed, this is an easy way to serve your unsuspecting kids more veggies. I love that it makes an easy, all-in-one-dish meal.
- two 16-oz cans of organic tomato sauce
- 1 organic zucchini
- 1 organic red bell pepper (seeds & core removed)
- 2-3 organic carrots (peeled)
- 1/2 yellow onion (peeled)
- 6 cloves of garlic (peeled)
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
- 5-6 leaves of fresh basil
- Roughly chop the veggies, onion and garlic.
- Add the veggies to a deep pot with the olive oil and cook over medium-low temperature until soft. This usually takes around 15 minutes; the smaller your veggie pieces, the faster they will soften.
- Add the tomato sauce.
- Use an immersion blender to puree the veggies into the sauce.
- Add the salt and crushed red pepper to taste and let simmer on low until you are ready to serve.
- When you remove from heat, add some chopped fresh basil.
- Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash with fresh mozzarella or Parmesan cheese.
To add some protein, make it a ragu / bolognese by adding cooked Italian sausage to the sauce. I also love to add in even more veggies at this point by mixing in some chopped kale or spinach that I have sauteed with shallots.
This delicious dinner takes under 30 minutes to prepare and is perfect for a weeknight meal. The tender steak with a sweet Asian sauce and crisp snow peas will be a crowd pleaser – both my husband and my 6 month old liked it!
A healthful adaptation of the Pioneer Woman’s Beef with Snow Peas recipe.
- 1/2 cup organic coconut aminos (say no to soy sauce with this perfect alternative!)
- 1 tablespoon ground organic ginger
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed beef bone broth
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Optional: you may add a tablespoon of non-GMO cornstarch or arrowroot powder to thicken your sauce, but since I was serving over rice, I didn’t feel I needed it.
- 1 1/2 pounds grass-fed flap steak, sliced thin against the grain (can also use flank steak)
- 3 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
- Couple handfuls of fresh organic snap peas, trimmed
- 5 scallions, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Combine the coconut aminos, ginger, bone broth, coconut sugar and crushed red pepper in a bowl. Put the sliced steak in a bowl and pour 1/3 of that liquid over the beef, saving the rest in the bowl. Toss the beef and let sit for a few minutes while you prepare the snap peas.
Put the oil in a large skillet and heat over high heat. Add the snap peas for half a minute to get them bright green, then remove them to a separate plate.
Next, add half the steak to the skillet. Spread it out and let brown for a minute. Add half the scallions, turn the meat over and cook another half minute to brown that side. Remove to a separate plate.
Let the skillet get hot again, then add the rest of the meat and brown both sides again. Once you flip the beef pieces to brown the second side, add all the ingredients back in – the reserved sauce, the previously cooked meat and snap peas. Stir for a few seconds, then remove from the heat.
Serve by itself or over jasmine rice or quinoa!
Wow… is it really almost 2017!?! As I look forward to the huge life change that 2017 will bring, I wanted to take some time to reflect back on 2016. If you’ve missed any of my blogs this year, this will be the perfect opportunity to catch up!
2016 was certainly a roller-coaster for my health. The year started off with me still trying to figure out what was causing my random high cortisol responses and unexplained weight gain. Then, in May, we found out we were expecting, even though doctors had told me I wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant. Pregnancy brought on constant nausea and exhaustion that kept me down and out for a few months, and then a gestational diabetes diagnosis rocked my world.
Here’s a recap of the blogs I wrote in 2016:
I’m a huge believer that vacations are super important for your overall health and well-being. We all need to take a break and relax, and traveling to experience different foods and cultures is great way to relieve stress. The past couple of years, we have taken two trips to Europe that were incredible. I got so many requests for advice, I just decided to write all about our itineraries and recommendations right here:
My Favorite Natural Products & Organic Grocery Deals
Highlighting the benefits of some of my favorite essential oils to both your overall wellness and to creating and keeping a natural home.
Happy New Year!!
I was recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes (I’ll be sharing more about that soon) and it’s pretty much the worst news to receive right before the holidays. I’ve been craving pumpkin pie lately and while the real thing isn’t the most unhealthy dessert you can choose, it is certainly loaded with sugar and simple carbs that I can’t have right now.
I experimented a bit this past weekend and came up with a delicious option that would satisfy my pumpkin craving and help keep my blood sugar low. Two of the ingredients are powerful at lowering blood sugar – cinnamon & stevia – and it makes the perfect bedtime snack to keep your morning fasting levels low. Plus, as with all recipes you’ll find on this blog, it’s super easy and quick to make.
- 1 can (15 oz) organic pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup organic heavy whipping cream
- 4 soy-free, free-range eggs (beaten)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoons pumpkin spice (I make my own and just re-fill the container each fall to keep it fresh: 3 parts cinnamon, 2 parts nutmeg, 2 parts ginger, 1 part allspice and 1 part cloves)
- 2-3 teaspoons liquid stevia
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl or with your stand mixer until smooth and combined.
- Use a bit of coconut oil to grease your ramekins (6 small ones or 4 large ones)
- Pour the mixture evenly into your ramekins
- Bake for 45 minutes (if a knife comes out clean, they are set)
- Let cool then place into the fridge – best served cold!
Topping Options: homemade whipped cream sweetened with stevia, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon roasted walnuts/pecans, soy-free 70% dark chocolate chips, whipped coconut cream (recipe here). You can also create a grain-free crust by chopping up nuts with some butter and pressing into the bottom of your ramekin before pouring in the pumpkin mix.
Looking for a simple summer snack that will keep you swimsuit ready? Today, I’m sharing the easiest 2-minute guacamole recipe perfectly paired with veggies like celery, carrots or zucchini slices.
Did you know that you actually need to eat fat to burn fat? Well, certain fats that is – unsaturated fats. That’s the fat in fish, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, butter, seeds and avocados. They help remove LDL cholesterol from your arteries and promote a healthy heart. And these real foods are soo much healthier than the low-fat processed foods loaded with sugar and salt to add flavor from the removed fats. These healthy fats actually help break down the stored fats in your body and contain the building blocks to building muscle, all working together to help you slim down.
Avocados pack in healthy monounsaturated fats that contain oleic acid and give you protein and fiber. They actually help reduce cravings and keep you feeling full so you don’t over-eat.
Shopping Tip: How do you pick a perfectly ripe avocado? Peeling away the stem and if you find green underneath, take that one! If you find brown, then it’s overripe. If the stem won’t come off at all, it’s not yet ripe, but you can take it home to be ready in a few days!
- 1 avocado
- 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (omit if AIP)
- juice from 1/4 lime
Mash the avocado with all other ingredients in a bowl with a fork and it’s ready to serve! If you don’t plan on eating it all right away, save the avocado seed and put in the bowl with the guac to keep it from going brown for a day or two.
I recently made dinner for a friend who is following the Auto-Immune Paleo diet. The AIP diet basically removes anything inflammatory so that your immune system has a chance to heal. It’s very restrictive (depending on what you’re currently eating, of course), but great for people with auto-immune diseases or for anyone suffering from unexplained health issues and not seeing results from anything else. Since it avoids foods that are most often problematic, it can also help people understand what kind of food allergies they may have without taking the expensive tests. Another thing about the AIP diet is that everything must be organic to avoid reactions to pesticides, additives, hormones, etc in non-organic foods – see why organic is always the better choice here.
One of my favorite anti-inflammatory, healing foods is bone broth. It is super easy to make and I always have some on hand to drink or make soups with. So, when I was challenged to make a meal that was AIP-friendly, I knew I wanted to start there. Today, I’m sharing the delicious Cilantro Lime Chicken Soup I concocted by taking the tomatoes and peppers (nightshade veggies are a surprisingly common allergen) out of my Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe. Even if you’re not following an AIP diet, I promise you’ll love this one!
Prep time: about 5 minutes, Cooking time: 35 minutes
- Put all the veggies (first 5 ingredients above) into a food processor and blend until puréed.
- Add olive oil and puréed veggies to soup pot and sauté over medium heat for 3 minutes.
- Add broth and salt to the pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add chicken, lime juice and cilantro to the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- Serve with fresh avocado slices on top for added texture.
Hope you enjoy!
As I’ve been planning our upcoming trip to Italy, I’ve found my cooking quite inspired by the cuisine. Last night, I needed a quick dinner and happened to find fresh baguettes on sale at Whole Foods for just 99¢, so I went with one of my favorite go-to 5 minute recipes: bruschetta!
- 1 package organic cherry heirloom tomatoes
- 1 package organic mozzarella cheese
- 5-6 basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 1 teaspoon organic olive oil (my favorite brand is Kasandrinos)
- drizzle of balsamic vinegar
- Put tomatoes into food processor and pulse just a couple times until tomatoes are broken up.
- Cut mozzarella cheese into small pieces.
- Add all ingredients into a bowl and mix together. That was so easy, right?!
4 Easy Serving Options:
Toasted Baguette – the most traditional way to serve… cut a baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange on a cookie sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle some garlic and ground pepper on top. Put in a 425 degree oven for 3-5 minutes depending on how toasty you like your bread. Top with the bruschetta and serve.
Pasta – prepare your favorite pasta (I recommend Organic Einkorn Grain Spaghetti for a more digestible form of gluten) and toss with olive oil. Instead of a sauce, top with bruschetta for a fresh version perfect for a hot summer day!
Grilled Chicken – for a healthier, gluten-free version with some protein, marinate some chicken with balsamic vinegar for an hour and then grill. Top with the bruschetta mixture and serve.
Salad – another gluten-free option – get your veggies for the day by serving over some mixed greens; plus, you won’t even need to add dressing.