Ragu is a delicious pasta sauce that complements nearly all noodle types. This easy to prepare recipe amounted from many trials and is much healthier than the store-bought equivalent. If you look at the ingredients list on store-bought pasta sauces you will see everything from sulphites to corn starch, to dehydrated vegetables and of course meat. Who knows what grade of meat goes into these mass-produced jars, and who really wants to eat dehydrated vegetables?! I encourage you to try this recipe, which is full of fresh vegetables and easily stores in the freezer. It even tastes better the next day, once the flavours have a chance to marry.
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 10 baby carrots
- 8 brown mushrooms
- 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dired basil
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 turkey sausages
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 can of whole tomatoes
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Heat olive oil in a large pot and sautee chopped onion, garlic, carrots and jalapeno for 5 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and spices, continue to cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove casings from turkey sausages and add to the sautee. Break up the meat as it cooks for another 3-5 minutes.
- Crush fennel seeds using a mortar and pestle, add to the pot and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoe paste and brown sugar, mix thoroughly.
- Crush the whole tomatoes and add the entire can to the pot.
- Bring to a boil, then lower temperature and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Add balsamic vinegar and continue to simmer for 12-15 minutes.
- Salt and pepper to taste. *Don’t forget to remove the Bay leaves.
Most people are aware that carrots are rich in beta-carotene which gives the typical orange carrot its colour (Martinez-Tomas et al., 2012). However, most people probably didn’t know that the orange carrots only became popular in the 17th century because of their taste, adaptability and nutritional value. Thousands of years earlier, the first wild carrots, which were purple and red, were domesticated in Afghanistan (Stolarczyk and Janick, 2011). There have been many studies on vision health related to carrot consumption, although only a few have actually been conducted on humans. One particular study by Coleman et al. (2008), observed that women who consumed more than 2 servings of carrots per week had a lower risk of developing glaucoma when compared to those who ate less than 1 serving of carrots per week. Additionally, this root vegetable is an abundant source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A which is well known for its role in maintaining healthy vision (Bobroff, 2011). Another interesting longitudinal study completed in 2011 by Griep et al., found that higher intake of deep orange and yellow coloured fruits and vegetables may protect from coronary heart disease. Thus to ensure a healthy diet it’s important to consume a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, so enjoy your carrots since they come in a rainbow of colours.
By: Samantha Goren, RD
This spinach and pepper pasta bake is a healthier version of the traditional cream based pasta bake, using vegetable broth instead of cream and light cream cheese for extra “creaminess”. Pair this dish with a fresh green salad to make it a complete meal!
- 250 grams of any pasta noodle (I recommend penne rigate)
- 3 generous cups fresh spinach, chopped
- 1/2 cup roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 125 grams light cream cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 400 °F.
- Cook pasta until al dente, drain and set aside (Tip: follow instructions on pasta box).
- Add olive oil to a large frying pan (medium heat). Add garlic and cook until lightly golden brown. Add green onions, cook for an addition 30 seconds. Then add spinach and roasted red peppers (or sun-dried tomatoes), cook for approximately 1 minute.
- Stir in vegetable broth, ¾ of parmesan, cream cheese, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Stir until cheese is melted.
- Add pasta and stir gently until combined.
- Transfer pasta mixture into baking dish.
- Sprinkle with remaining parmesan.
- Bake uncovered for approximately 15 minutes.
Tip: Double up recipe and divide pasta mixture between two baking dishes. Freeze one for later use and simply bake from frozen.
- 1/2 pound whole wheat elbow noodles
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups 2% milk, fortified with vitamin D
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 large egg
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
- 6 ounces gruyere, shredded
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh black pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (tip: do it yourself with day old whole wheat bread)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Blend day old whole wheat bread in electric blender until blended into fine crumbs
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
In a separate pot, melt the butter on low heat. Whisk in the flour and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of each cheese. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Let sit for approximately 5 minutes prior to serving.