Growing up in an Italian family, Sunday always meant “la famiglia.” It was a grand, social occasion. I got to visit, bond, and play with my relatives every week, especially my cousins. My grandparents would have everyone congregate to their home for a traditional “real Italian” spaghetti dinner. I don’t know how much you know about old traditional Italian families, but everything revolves around food. According to my grandmother, a good spaghetti and meatball dinner will bring people together and make everyone happy.
I do agree with the whole philosophy of families connecting around food, unfortunately traditional Italian grandma food can clog every artery in your body. As much as I love it, too much of it will kill you. A good Italian meat sauce (known by the pisans as gravy) is made with veal, beef and pork (and I’m not talking about the lean kind). So, I decided to put a healthier twist on Grandma’s favorite – I turned it vegetarian.
This is another one of my favorite go-to recipes for family events or parties. It’s a healthier version of my childhood Italian favorite. Plus, it doesn’t take long to prepare using my kitchen friend, the NutriBullet. I love to use fresh herbs in my sauce, but dried work as well. If using dried herbs, I recommend using quarter to half the amount of fresh.
Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 2 zucchinis, chopped
- 1 small green pepper, chopped
- 2 14.5 oz cans of tomatoes with juice
- 1 12 oz can of tomato paste
- 1 32 oz can of tomato sauce
Note: I prefer to use low sodium tomato products
- 2 tsp of fresh basil
- 1 tsp of fresh oregano
- ¼ tsp of black pepper
- 1 tsp of salt
- 4 Cups of water
In a large stockpot, sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini and green pepper for 10 minutes. Add the balance of the ingredients and simmer stirring occasionally for 1 hour until vegetables are tender. In small batches pour into the large NutriBullet cup and blend for 20 seconds each.
This recipe makes an excellent wholesome sauce that is great on pasta or lasagna. It’s also a terrific sauce to keep on hand for last-minute dinners. It makes about a gallon and can be broken down into smaller batches for freezing.
So gather your loved one’s around the dinner table for a good ol’ Italian feast. They’ll know how much you love them by how good it tastes. You’ll show how much you love them by how healthy you made it. Make sure there’s plenty left, because they’ll be coming back for seconds. Be careful though, this sauce is so good that you’ll be tempted to mangiare fino a scoppiare! (eat ’til you burst!)
Raw'kin Snack of the Week
We’ve got a doozy for you this week folks, with a delicious ‘Roasted’ Garlic and Red Pepper Soup from G Living. A few red peppers, some white onion, and some garlic dressed up with a dash of Himalayan sea salt and sunflower oil, blended in your NutriBullet, and you’ve got a delicious snack, appetizer soup, or full-on meal.
Check out this recipe as soon as you can. You won’t want to miss out on this raw, creamy, vegan treat.
Click here for the full recipe.
I wrote in a previous blog about a summer vacation I took to attend a family reunion in Minnesota. Besides reconnecting with my extended family, I was also able to introduce them to my newest family member – the NutriBullet. At first, they didn’t think the NB was all that special. But, after a couple rounds of my famous NutriBlasts, they all welcomed the NutriBullet with open arms – especially my cousin Kerrie.
Kerrie was very taken with the NutriBullet, but as the week progressed, she became a woman obsessed. After only a couple of days, she was already working NutriBlasts into her morning workout regimen. By the end of the week, she was singing its praises like a paid spokesperson. She decided that she had to get one of her own. She ordered it online along with express shipping so it would be waiting on her doorstep when she returned to Oklahoma.
When she arrived home, there it was shiny and new, in all its Nutri-glory. She ripped the package open and hit the ground running (she was already a pro from using it so much in Minnesota). The girl could not get enough and started creating her own recipes with combinations of fruits and vegetables that even I hadn’t thought up. She now sends me weekly text messages on her newest concoctions and on how the NutriBullet has really changed her life. She has all the added energy that comes with the NB and she isn’t hungry. The fruit and veggie NutriBlast do a great job filling you up. And the best part? She is noticing the inches/weight disappearing.
Kerrie is an avid runner and part of a women’s running club. Recently she sent me an email saying, “This morning after my run, my group told me they wanted me to stop running with them because I have too much energy. I said it was from my NutriBlast; it really does give me extra energy.” She also said she just started incorporating two NutriBlasts a day and loves it.
Here is one of her favorite NutriBlast recipes:
- 1 Cup of kale
- ½ Cup watermelon
- Handful of grapes
- Handful of blueberries
- 3 Strawberries
- 2 T of hemp seed
- 2 T protein powder
- 2 Ice cubes
- Water to the line
Add all ingredients into the large NutriBullet cup and Blast – ENJOY!
Kerrie is a true example of just how the NB can change your life. It can make you look and feel better in just days. It also gets you excited to see what new things you can whip up. Kerrie has transformed her life thanks to the NutriBullet. She is now an unstoppable Nutri-nator!
Raw'kin Snack of the Week
It’s Raw’kin Snack of the Week time! This week, it’s brought to you by Choosing Raw. Four ingredients and four easy steps and you’ll not only end up with a delicious, chocolatey snack bar, but you’ll end up with one in five minutes.
Simply ground cashews in your trusty NutriBullet, add figs and cacao powder, ground some more, and finally add cacao nibs, pulsing just to get them incorporated, and voila! Refrigerate and you’ve got the perfect study snack or brunch time treat!
Caffeine is considered an ergogenic aid in many sports – meaning it can be used to improve an athlete’s performance. Some ergogenic aids are not safe and may have harmful side effects (think steroids or human growth hormones), but caffeine, if used in the right dosage, has limited side effects and can be a beneficial part of an athlete’s training diet. It is the most widely studied performance aid and perhaps the most widely used, as well.
Many endurance athletes rely on caffeine to improve speed, agility, endurance and, interestingly enough, decrease the feeling of pain during intense bouts of exercise. It has also been shown to increase the release of free fatty acids in the blood, which, in turn, help the body utilize fat stores. Utilizing fat as a source of fuel increases the time one can exercise before becoming fatigued. In the long term, it will positively improve an athlete’s body composition by increasing lean muscle mass and decreasing fat stores. Caffeine can also benefit those who are susceptible to exercise-induced headaches by dilating blood vessels in the brain, allowing for increased blood flow.
I am one of those people who are at risk for post-exercise headaches, so I choose coffee as my source of caffeine intake. Typically, I drink one cup of coffee before my workout, along with a large glass of water so I don’t get dehydrated. I follow my workout with either another cup of coffee or a coffee smoothie, depending on the weather outside. If it’s cold, I drink hot coffee. In the summer time, I prefer a coffee smoothie. The following smoothie is a post-workout recovery smoothie, which provides protein for muscle recovery, simple sugars to replenish blood glucose stores, and caffeine to help prevent post-exercise headaches.
Vanilla Coffee Smoothie
¼ cup Vanilla bean low fat frozen yogurt
¼ cup soy milk
1 scoop whey protein powder
1 packet Starbucks Via – Italian roast
¼ cup crushed ice (optional)
Combine all ingredients into NutriBullet and blast!
Yes, it’s that easy!
-Jennifer O’Donnell-Giles MS, RD, CSSD