Make Your Own Tomato Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes!

Here is a healthy life hack for you, it will only take a few minutes to prepare and will save you from hidden nasties added to your favourite childhood condiment… Tomato Sauce.

I made this in the slow cooker, and let it simmer away all night. It reduced down to a beautiful, rich soupy mix that I blended together.  I would encourage everyone to try this easy peasy recipe. It has no sugar, no preservatives, no colours, flavours,  or anything else. Just good old tomatoes, and a few other natural enhancers.

Even more attractive about this recipe is NO SUGAR. I did a quick bit of research in my local supermarket on the sugar content of tomato sauces and ketchup. The average bottle had about 1 teaspoon of sugar in every tablespoon of sauce. So for 17 grams of tomato sauce, 4-5 of those grams is sugar! I’m going to reiterate it again, it means that between 23-29% of the average bottle of store bought tomato sauce is SUGAR! Ugh.

Okay, off my high horse and back to the recipe:

slow cooked tomato sauce

Ingredients

10 fresh tomatoes,  seeded and crushed
1⁄2 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1⁄4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions:

Step 1: Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and olive oil in a slow cooker.

Step 2: Season with oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon.

Step 3: Cover, and cook 10 to 15 hours on Low. The longer you simmer it, the richer the flavour  becomes.

Step 5: Turn the slow cooker off between 10-15 hours. At 10 hours it’s really good, but at 15 its even better. Blend together (I used a stick blender) and place in a sterilized glass jar. Let it cool, and refrigerate. The sauce can also be frozen.

 

Golbaki (Cabbage Rolls) in the Slow Cooker

I stumbled across this recipe, after having some left over cabbage and feeling like using it in cooking. Usually I would make sauerkraut but I thought I should try something I hadn’t done before.

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This is a traditional Polish recipe, which can be baked in the oven or slow cooked. It is gluten free, dairy free and manages to be the most amazing comfort food you’ve ever had.

Ingredients

1/2 head large cabbage

Filling:

1/2 cup of rice

1 cup of green peas

1 onion

1kg of Pork Mince

1 egg

2 teaspoons garlic

salt and pepper to taste

golbaki

Sauce:

750mL Pasata

2 tablespoons raw sugar

4 tablespoons of white wine or vinegar

Instructions:

Step 1: Pull off the waxy, outer leaves of the cabbage and discard. Pull of the leaves, working carefully to keep them as in-tact as possible. The bigger the leaf- the easier the process is.

Step 2: Boil some salted water in a large saucepan and gently place the cabbage leaves in for 3 minutes. Place on some paper towels to cool and dry.

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Step 3: Cook rice in some water, and add green peas at the end of the cooking time if using frozen peas.

Step 4: In a bowl, combine raw mince, garlic, diced onion and some herbs (if you prefer), salt and pepper, rice, peas and egg.

Step 5: Mix the meat mix until it starts to come together and form a large ball in the bowl.

Step 6: Place the sauce ingredients in a saucepan on the stove and gently warm, until it starts to simmer.

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Step 7: Roll little handfuls of the meat mixture in your hands and place in the center of the partly cooked cabbage leaves.

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Step 8: Gently roll up the cabbage leaves around the meat mixture and lay them in a baking tray, or in the bottom of your slow cooker. Repeat the process until all the meat and cabbage is used up.

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I ran out of cabbage leaves, so just made meat balls- placing them on top of the cabbage rolls.

Step 9: Pour over the tomato sauce and add some extra salt, pepper and herbs. Cook on high for 6-8 hours in the slow cooker, or until the meat is cooked through.

golbaki7Serve warm, extra salt and pepper with some sour cream if you eat dairy, or cashew creme if you are dairy free. Delish!

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4 Ingredients: Slow Cooked Apricot Jam

I was given an abundance of fresh apricots by a friend, last week. What better way to start the new year than with a large batch of apricot jam?

I made this in the slow cooker, for ease and because the days have been so hot that I really didn’t feel like slaving over a hot stove all day.

Ingredients

3 kg of apricots

1 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of water

1/4 cup of lemon juice

 

Instructions

Step 1: Cut the apricots in half, and remove the pit.

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Step 2: Place the halved apricots in your slow cooker and pour over the rest of the ingredients.

Step 3: Turn the slow cooker on high and cover. Cook for 24 hours. The apricots will release a lot of liquid while they cook. Check back every 1-2 hours to scrape off any foam that forms on top.

Apricots after 2 hours, scrape the foam off
Apricots after 2 hours, scrape the foam off

Step 4: To reduce the liquid, uncover and leave on for another 8-12 hours. It should be a rich amber colour, and thick in consistency when it’s ready.

Apricots after 24 hours covered, and 6 hours uncovered
Apricots after 24 hours covered, and 6 hours uncovered

Step 5: If it needs to be reduced further, simply place on the stove and stir for 15 mins or until the desired consistency is released. Pour into sterilized jars and enjoy!

Reducing it further on the stove
Reducing it further on the stove

How to Sterilize Jars (Oven Method)

Be careful with sterilizing glass jars, as if they change temperature too quickly they may smash.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 120*C

Step 2: Wash empty jars and lids in warm soapy water, remove any labels if required. Don’t use a jar with a plastic lid.

Step 3: While the jars are still warm from being washed, place them in the oven with their lids. I place my jars in a cake tin so that they’re easier to remove when they’re done.

I was short on time, so I multi-tasked and roasted some veges at the same time
I was short on time, so I multi-tasked and roasted some veges at the same time

Step 4: Carefully remove the jars after 15 minutes.

The rule with putting jam in the jars is: HOT jam in HOT jars (so put the jam in straight after removing from the oven) or COLD jam in COLD jars (let the jam cool and let the jars cool from cooking and sterilizing).

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If you fill the hot jars with hot jam, make sure you leave them on the bench to cool a while, before putting them in the fridge.

 

Paleo Beetroot Soup – Nourishing and Tonifying

This is a soup to nourish the body. It is absolutely flavourful and easy to eat. The vibrant colour makes this an impressive dish and would the be perfect addition to a Paleo dinner party. With its potent nutritional benefits, this is definitely one I have added to my repertoire of healing soups, when my body is in need of some TLC.

Research found that beetroots contain anti-carcinogens and can increase the uptake of oxygen by as much as 400 percent, due to the red pigmentation matter in the root. This helps our bodies fight against infection, cancerous cells and increase our cardiovascular system’s health.

Nutritionally, beetroots are full of folate, iron, potassium and vitamin C. There are only 36 calories per 100g of beetroot, which make it a great choice if you are looking for food containing high fibre and low calories.

beetroot soup

Ingredients

1 large onion

2 teaspoons of garlic

1-2 beetroots

700mL of stock (or homemade bone broth)

1/2 cup of fresh herbs (I used parsley, basil and thyme)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

2 carrots

2 cups of baby spinach

A good pinch of Salt and Pepper

2 tablespoons of butter/coconut oil

Roasted beetroot
Roasted beetroot

 

Instructions:

Step 1: Drizzle the beetroots in a little oil, salt and pepper and roast the beetroots in the oven for around an hour. I didn’t take the skins off at all for this recipe, but if you feel the need- they can be peeled while raw or the skin can be cut off after roasting.

Step 2: Roughly chop up the onion, garlic, and carrots.

Step 3: In a warm saucepan melt the butter/coconut oil, and gently cook the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and fragrant.

Step 4: Add the herbs to the saucepan, along with the carrots. After about 2 minutes add the stock and cinnamon.

Step 5: Roughly chop the beetroots and add them to the saucepan. Cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrots are cooked through. Alternatively, slow cook for 3-4 hours on low. Turn the heat off and add the baby spinach- it will wilt really quickly, this is perfect.

Step 6: Blend (I used my Bamix hand blender) and serve with fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of Greek Yoghurt, feta or goats cheese if you eat dairy.

 

Cherry Sauce – Slow Cooked

Our neighbour called us over to help her with a job in her yard, about a week ago. When we went out the back, we saw a huge tree, laden with cherries. She had pulled the protective net off, and told us to pick what we wanted because the birds would have the rest in the morning.

So, up the ladder we went, picking for about 2 hours. We filled bags and bags with red, juicy cherries and left the branches as bare as possible.

The cherries had never had pesticides, sprays or any other human intervention. The harvest was shared around with the other neighbours and we took a bag home for ourselves.

We spent the next night pitting cherries, and our kitchen looked like a crime scene. Juice splattered everywhere. But after a few more hours of labour, we had a crock pot full of pitted cherries.

cherries

 

We cooked the cherries down for almost 2 days. A few flavour ’embellishments’ were added for enhancement.

We went with some festive and warming additions. Cinnamon, maple, and some lemon juice.

We had hoped to make jam, but the cherries were so juicy and already so sweet that condensing it down even further wouldn’t have done them justice. After 2 days, we blended it all together with the Bamix and turned it into a cherry sauce.

We bottled it up into sterilized jars and we have some gorgeous gifts for our friends!

 

Paleo Spicey Pumpkin Soup

This recipe is loaded with Vitamin C. It is perfect for the winter months, and just as good to have for the transition phases between seasons, when our immune systems can feel susceptible to colds and flu’s.

I made this in the slow cooker- it was so easy. I pre-roasted my vegetables, as I was already using the oven. But you could skip the roasting step and add them raw.

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I mixed my own spices instead of using a curry paste, and the flavours were vibrant and fresh. You could use alternatives to suit your taste.

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Ingredients

1kg butternut pumpkin

1 onion

1-2 carrots

1/2 large sweet potato

4 cups of stock

Red curry paste or dried spice mix of: 1 tsp each of corriander, tumeric, paprika, garam masala

Tin of full fat coconut cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Corriander leaves to garnish

Instructions

Step 1: Roughly chop the vegetables and place all ingredients, except coconut cream in slow cooker

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Step 2: Turn slow cooker on high, and cook for 4 hours or 6-8 on low

Step 3: After soup has cooked, add coconut cream and blend together all the ingredients. If the soup is very thick, add some water.

Step 4: Top with corriander leaves and serve.

Paleo Roast Cauliflower and Bacon Soup

This soup is so hearty! It was so simple in my slow cooker. I roasted everything off in the oven, and popped in the slow cooker with some stock = perfection.

Spices really made this soup amazing. I used paprika, corriander and cumin. This gave it a smokey, spiced flavour but it could be made to your own tastes. Experiment with it!

caulibacon

Ingredients:

2 Onions

1/2 large sweet potato

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 medium head of cauliflower

1L of stock (I used my homemade stock)

Herbs of choice

300 grams of bacon

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

Step 1: Place all the vegetables on a baking/roasting tray, sprinkle herbs (I used paprika, cumin and coriander) over vegetables and spray with a little olive oil if desired.

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Step 2: Roast in a hot oven for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are starting to brown.

Step 3: Place bacon on a lined tray in a hot oven for about 10 minutes.

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Step 4: Place all ingredients, including the bacon juices in a slow cooker with stock.

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Step 5: Cover with a lid and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Step 6: Blend all together with a stick blender, serve and enjoy!

Bone Broth Recipe

Homemade vs Store Bought? 

I would say that it’s very worth making your own beef stock. There is such a huge difference between the beef stock that you can buy, and the stock that you make, it’s amazing. And when you cook it for a few days, some of the bones end up soft and all of those minerals go into the broth. It can be intensely satisfying to drink just a cup of broth, especially if your body is low on minerals. Times when I’ve felt run down especially in the winter I’ve made beef stock instead of taking vitamins. I’ve found that my body seems to respond to ‘food vitamins’ better, which I guess makes sense since that’s how we were made to take in our vitamins. Beef broth is a great way to manage afternoon hunger between lunch and dinner and a great alternative to coffee if you’re trying to kick the caffeine habit.

People that don’t typically eat a lot of beef will potentially do really well with a bit of meat in beef stock, or just beef broth alone. All of the minerals and gelatin in the stock help the body digest meat more efficiently.

A Few Points on Making Bone Broth

  • Brown your meaty bones really well on both sides before putting them into the pot, this enriches the flavour and gives it a dark amber colour.
  • Save bits of meat in a bag in the freezer to add to the stockpot. Label your bag though so you know what it is for!stock 2
  • Do NOT skip the vinegar step, it draws the minerals out of the bones
  • Freeze your carrot, garlic, onion and celery (I save all vegetable cuttings, except onions) trimmings in a bag, and add to the potstock
  • Let the pot sit for longer than you think is possible, it will be fine over 2 or even 3 days. Turn the stove off at night if you want and then turn it back on in the morning.
  • OR Cook in a Slow Cooker- switch it on low and leave it for 30 hours (this is actually more energy efficient that using gas or an electrical element)

Equipment:

  • Knife
  • Fine strainer
  • Stockpot or Crock Pot / Slow Cooker
  • Glass Jars or Ice-cube trays for storage
  • Roasting tray

Ingredients:

  • 2 kg of stock bones
  • 2 liters of filtered water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar, apple cider vinegar or kombucha
  • Vegetable scraps (I often use kale stems, pumpkin seeds or ends of zucchini)
  • Chop up some staples, like onion, carrot and celery.
  • Herbs
  • Himalayan salt optional – for after broth is completed

Preparation:

  1. Optional: Place all of your bones that have meaty bits on them on a roasting pan and brown in the oven at 200*C degrees until well-browned (30-60 minutes usually). Or you can just put them in raw.
  2. Meanwhile, throw all of your non-meaty marrow bones into a stockpot/slow cooker, add the water, vinegar and vegetables.
  3. Turn the slow cooker on high.stock4
  4. Add the browned bones to the pot, deglaze your roasting pan with hot water and get up all of the brown bits, pour this liquid into the pot. Add additional water if needed to cover the bones.
  5. Bring to a boil on high and remove the scum/foam that rises to the top. Checking back every hour or so, until no more foam appears. No need to remove the floating fat.
  6. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for at least 12 hours and as long as 72 hours. The longer you cook the stock, the more rich and flavorful it will be.stock3
  7. After a 2-3 hours you will want to ‘rescue’ any of the meat you need for recipes or marrow that you’d like to eat. Using tongs find your marrow bones, pop out the marrow with a small knife and return the bone to the pot.
  8. After you simmer for 12-72 hours, Nourishing Traditions describes it perfectly:

You will now have a pot of rather repulsive-looking brown liquid containing globs of gelantinous and fatty material. It doesn’t even smell particularly good. But don’t despair. After straining you will have a delicious and nourishing clear broth that forms the basis for many other recipes in this book.

9. Remove the bones with a slotted spoon and/or tongs. Strain the stock into a large bowl, and allow to cool. Distribute the stock amongst the jars, or ice-cube trays, then freeze or refrigerate.

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10. You can remove the congealed fat after refrigerating or even freezing and use it for  cooking.

BoneBroth

Meatballs: Slow Cooked

This post is for my younger brother, who recently bought a slow cooker. Ever since I can remember him in a high-chair, spaghetti and meatballs has been his favourite food of all time.

So, in honour of his new slow cooker, I have tweaked the classic meatball recipe with a few healthy additions to create a dish that is delicious, effortless and satisfying.

Sauce Ingredients:

1 tsp Olive Oil
2 Brown Onion
2 Carrots
2 Zucchini
3 Clove of Garlic
2 tins Crushed Tomatoes
2 Bay Leaves
2 tbs dried or fresh herbs (I used fresh rosemary and parsley)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Optional: 1 cup of red wine

Method

Step 1: Turn the slow cooker on high to pre-heat while you prep the vegetables.

Step 2: Dice the onions and garlic; grate the carrot and zucchini.

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Step 3: Place the vegetables in the slow cooker, with the 2 tins of tomatoes.

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Step 4: Chop up the herbs, add them to the vegetables.

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Step 5: Add salt and pepper and red wine (if using).

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Step 6: Cover with lid and leave on high for 1 hour. You could start to make the meatballs here.

Step 7: After 1 hour, mash the vegetables together in the slow cooker, or use a stick blender- to combine all the ingredients and to even out the texture.

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Meatballs Ingredients:

400g of minced meat (beef or chicken works well)

1 onion

1 egg

100g Parmesan or grated mozzarella

1 cup of almond meal (could replace with breadcrumbs)

salt & pepper

 

Method: 

Step 1: Finely dice the onion up.

Step 2: Add egg to a bowl and lightly whisk.

Step 3: Add the onion, mince, almond meal (or bread crumbs), parmesan and salt/pepper to the bowl and mix it together well.

Step 4: When the mixture comes together, use your hands to roll them into balls a bit bigger than the size of a golf ball.

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Optional: Brown off the meatballs in a pan with a little bit of butter to give a richer flavour and to help the meatballs stick together. If you brown them off, decrease cooking time by 1.5 hours.

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Step 5: Carefully place the meatballs (raw or browned) in the slow cooking sauce.

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Step 6: Cover with lid and leave to cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.

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Regan’s Thoughts: “Om nom nom!!”

SIDE NOTE: This didn’t turn out with well formed meatballs for me. I think perhaps the almond meal wasn’t enough to hold it together and I should have added a little flour. I think the bread crumbs would work better for this recipe and help form the meatballs. Even though the meat fell apart in the slow cooker, it formed an amazing bolognese sauce which I served over zucchini pasta or steamed vegetables. It was so tasty!

French Onion Soup: Slow cooked

French onion soup is one of those delicious classics that has worked its way into many homes, not only as a meal but also used as a base flavour for many dishes. Recognised for its caramelized smell and umami affect on the taste buds, French onion soup is comforting and delicious.

Often times, when a recipe calls for a rich savoury taste, you will find a packet of French onion soup on the ingredients list. However, many packet soups contain preservatives, colours, flavours, loads of salt and can be quite inauthentic. For me, this is an unsatisfying means to an end- especially when the soup can be easily and cheaply made.

I made this in my slow cooker- prep was quick and easy and I love the fact that I can turn it on, and leave it, while the magical slow cooker fairy makes my soup. I also roasted my onions in the oven (skin on) and just peeled them and popped them in with all the other ingredients. I thought this gave the soup heartiness and a rich depth of flavour. This can also be cooked, and then frozen in usable portion sizes, for later on.

Ingredients

8 medium brown onions

3 garlic cloves, chopped

4 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 1/2 cups of white wine

2-3 cups of stock

3/4 cup of water

1 teaspoon fresh thyme/rosemary (I used both)

salt and pepper

 

Method

Step 1: Roast off onions in oven (I did mine with skin on).

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Step 2: While the onions are roasting, turn the the slow cooker on high and add butter, garlic and herbs.

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Step 3: After the onions have roasted and cooled, peel off onion skin and put them in the slow cooker. I didn’t cut mine up, because I’ll blend it all together at the end.

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Step 4: Add the liquids, and salt and pepper.

Step 5: Cook on high, with the lid on for 3-4 hours and add flour to thicken if necessary. Mine was really thick at this stage, and didn’t need any flour.

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Step 6: After the soup is at your desired consistency, blend together (a stick blender works well).

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This recipe can be frozen. It is a good idea to pre-portion the soup before freezing. The best way I have found to do this is to freeze in ice-cube trays. Enjoy!

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