Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Healthier Bolognese Sauce

Eating healthy does not mean bland and boring.  If I had to eat grilled chicken and steamed veggies everyday I would cry...literally bawl into my hands.  Actually, I just wouldn't do it!  I'm a foodie at heart.  I love complex flavors, textures, and ingredients - but I NEED simple recipes to incorporate into my busy life.

Ever had pasta bolognese? Its one of my hubby's favorite Italian dishes to order out.  At most restaurants I've been to, it's greasy and heavy (although quite delicious) and my stomach doesn't always  like that.  So I went on a quest to make a healthier version to enjoy in my home, even while eating clean.  The key is to drain your ground beef and also let it sit on some paper towels to soak up the extra fat.  The other secret???  An entire bottle of red wine!!!  Yup, that's full bottle.  It cooks down and adds so much flavor.  And of course you'll need an extra glass (or two) to drink while you enjoy your masterpiece. :) 

So please give this recipe a try today!  I think you will love it!!!

Happy Cooking!

Healthier Pasta Bolognese
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1lb 90% lean ground beef
1 can tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, blended
1 bottle red wine
Salt & pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Start off with browning your beef in a large pot (I use my dutch oven) over medium heat.  Cook until no longer pink.   Drain it on a large plate lined with several paper towels. 
Then we need to start building the sauce by sauteing the vegetables.  Saute the onion, carrots, and celery until translucent.  Then add the garlic and cook only until fragrant.  Do not burn the can happen super fast.  So be careful. 

Next, add the can of tomato paste and allow that to cook a little.  It should start to develop a darker color and deep colors mean rich flavors in the end.  Yummy!

Now you can add the bottle of wine and deglaze the pan (scrape up all the yummy brown bit stuck on the bottom of the pan).  Then add your diced tomatoes, herbs, salt, pepper, and beef back in to the pot. 

Now you have to be patient and allow this to cook down over time...I'm talking 2-4 hours.  The more patient you are, the better the flavor will be.  Here is what it looks like after 3 hours on medium -low heat. 

After 3 hours?  A nice, thick, rich, and hearty meat sauce.  Delicious!!!  If your sauce starts to get too thick, add a little water and put the cover on the pot. 
Now the pasta...for a restaurant quality pasta dish, DO NOT OVER COOK THE PASTA!!!  You are better off with aldente pasta and finishing it in the sauce, just like they would at your favorite Italian spot. 

Cook the pasta in very salty water according to the package (if it doesn't give you a time for aldente then cook it 1-2 minutes under the time listed).   Please reserve 1-2 cups of the pasta water before you drain it...this helps to bring the dish all together. 

So here we go - back to our beautiful sauce...turn the heat to low.  We will finish the pasta off in the sauce. 
Add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water to the sauce.  Toss it together and add more pasta water if necessary until its to a consistency that you like (and this is personal preference - please note that the pasta absorbs more sauce and liquid as it sits so keep that pasta water around just in case). 

Yummy!!!  Looks so good!  Serve with some parmesan cheese and a large salad. 

I want to eat some right now...


The 21 day Fix Review

The 21 day Fix is amazing!  I can't get over how awesomely easy this program is for anyone to follow - whether new to exercise and eating clean, or looking to step up your game, you will not be disappointed.  Honestly, I've been working as a fitness instructor for 4 years and this program did things for my body that I haven't been able to on my own.

Why do I like this program?  The eating plan is simple - lists of foods you can eat and a way to portion them out throughout the day.  Plus I am not hungry - in fact it's quite the opposite.  I have a hard time eating everything I'm supposed to.  I feel full and amazing.   My digestive discomfort and bloating is gone, I have an increased energy level, and I feel strong.  The workouts are great - only 30 minutes and totally manageable as a busy mom (or dad).  They are challenging but not too crazy, and there is a modifier for moves I need to work on.  Love it! 

If you or someone you know have questions for me about my experience with the 21day Fix please email me at .  

In the meantime, I'm getting back to my challengers on Facebook to help them stay accountable, motivated, and successful along the way.  Want to join my challenge group?  Email me or find me on Facebook.  :)

Enjoy your day!!!
My salads for the week - meal prep is the key to success!!!

Slow Cooker Vegetable Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes

There is nothing better than a warm, comforting bowl of hearty soup in the fall or winter months - unless that soup is made in the crockpot!!!  Yes!  If you haven't discovered a crockpot or slow cooker, then get yourself will change your life. 

This recipe, like many crock pot recipes, can be prepared the night before.  Just chop up all your veggies and pre-measure your ingredients.  Then you can just dump everything in the crockpot the morning of and let it cook away all day.  

This Vegetable Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes is a great Meatless Monday treat and the leftovers make great lunches!  Enjoy!!!

Happy Cooking!
Slow Cooker Vegetable Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes
recipe based on

4 large carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, diced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1.5 cups chopped green beans
2 cups green, brown, or black lentils
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
64 oz vegetable broth
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper

Chop and mince up all your veggies and throw them in the crockpot (a.k.a slow cooker).
Measure out your lentils...I only had a little green lentils left, then I used black big deal.  Any color should work.
Dump in the tomatoes, seasonings, and lentils. 

Then add the vegetable broth.  Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  These lentils are not pre-soaked or pre-cooked, so they need time to plump up.  Besides, I think the longer you cook it the better for soups. 

And it magically turns into this masterpiece!!!
Yummy!!!  Look at all that hearty vegetable goodness!  I love lentils!!! 
Serve immediately and enjoy!