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Thursday, 17 February 2011

Nutrish and Delish -- Super Sauce

Every single recommendation to eat healthy in every country of the world that puts out recommendations is emphasizing increasing fruit and vegetable intake. The '5-a-day' campaign in the UK will shortly change to '8-a-day' and the new Dietary Guidelines in the US specifically mentions making half your plate vegetables and fruits. This is good advice, as fruits and vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and are low in kcalories, thus yielding intense nutritional value without all the 'baggage' of artery-clogging fats, liver/pancreas/kidney/brain/blood-busting simple sugars, and excess kcalories. The anti-oxidants and phytochemicals found in vegetables and fruits scavenge and cleanse our bodies of mutating substances and really do protect against various cancers as well as diabetes, CVD, hypertension, and obesity.

What we all must realize is that we don't have to turn into rabbits in order to increase our intake. We just need to choose fresh foods and be more adventurous about trying new things. We must GET AWAY from the burgers, pizza, subs and oversized sandwiches, meat/cheese laden Mexican foods, or meat and cheese laden ANY type of food -- be it Italian, Greek, whatever. Actually, Mediterranean type foods that are well-made and FRESH should NOT have so much cheese and fatty meat -- if it does, it's probably the Americanized version of it.

Here's a recipe that will help you get a good dose of your daily vegetables as each serving yields 3 vegetables. The best news is -- it's easy and delicious. It's a sort of vegetable 'bolognese' sauce without the meat. You CAN also add cooked, lean beef mince, if you like, for a richer sauce, but, will only need to add half or a third of the meat that you usually use to make a bolognese sauce. That actually can save you about 300 kcals and 30 grams of fat per serving! Not a bad idea!

Here's the recipe -- make it today!

Super Sauce

1 small onion or 2 medium shallots, chopped
2 garlic gloves, chopped
1 T olive oil
2 cups (500 g) mix of cubed or diced butternut squash and sweet potato -- can use all of either one
1 can chopped tomatoes or 2 cups fresh chopped pomodori tomatoes
generous portions of herbs, to taste, like basil, thyme, oregano -- can be fresh or dried
salt and pepper -- to taste, but be easy on the salt -- the goal is to try to reduce sodium as much as possible, which is why you need to have a freer hand with herbs!

Add olive oil to a relatively deep non-stick fry pan on medium heat and let spread a bit. Add onion and garlic and sautee` until soft and transparent -- can add water so as not to brown the onion/garlic. Add cubed butternut, sweet potato and stir fry until just slightly caramelized and then add water to cover. Bring the vegetables to a simmer for about 15 minutes until the butternut/sweet potato starts to soften. Add tomatoes (at this point,you can add more water to mixture -- about a cup -- I add another canful from the tomato can to get out all the tomato -- about that much), herbs, salt and pepper and simmer whole mixture for another 25-30 minutes on low heat until butternut/sweet potato are soft and melding through tomatoes.
This mixture is now ready to serve over cooked pasta of your choice -- preferably WHOLE GRAIN for maximum nutritional yield. Add chopped fresh parley or basil, as edible garnish.

You can choose to blitz the sauce through a blender if you want it smooth and 'creamy'.

Serves 4. Can be easily doubled to serve 8-10.

Sprinkle grated sharp pecorino or parmesan cheese and tuck in!

Sometimes, I add a few dollops of fat-free plain yogurt through the mixture just before serving, for extra calcium and protein.

Optional (for another interesting 'kick' to the sauce): After you've added tomatoes, spoon in 2 T reduced-fat hummus to mixture -- this gives a very interesting delicious hint of flavor to the sauce and is also packs a bit extra protein and fiber without adding TOO much fat.


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