I’ve just gotten the little one settled down for his afternoon nap and figure its about time to get some things organized for dinner tonight. I like to get the chopping done before he wakes up because if I don’t its a bit crazy because he is at his grumpiest just before dinner and wants to be held the whole time. I can usually stir and do other things while holding him, but if the chopping isn’t done its either me guiding the older boys to chop or a lovely caucaphony of bouts of screaming while I am trying to chop as quickly as I can and soothe him for a minute before putting him down again to get back to chopping.
So anyway, as I’m getting ready to prep a bit for dinner I realized the chicken that I had planned for dinner was still in the freezer. I was going to have to come up with something different. Sound familiar? It happens more often than I’d like to admit in my house, I blame it on my baby brain. Does it ever come back?
Often times, it is this reason that many turn to the bottled prepackaged sauces that are everywhere these days. You only have 15-20 minutes to prepare dinner and think there is no other option. If you plan right and always have a quick and easy healthy option for your super busy days, you don’t need to rely on the ease of ready meals or jarred sauces that are loaded with sugar and other harmful chemicals. You can have your own ready meals on the go that are not only healthier and tastier but less expensive as well. I always have something in my freezer that I can throw together quickly for these kind of days.
Luckily, a few weeks ago I had made a double batch of Bolognese sauce to serve over spaghetti and stuck the other half in the freezer. All I had to do was pull it out, dump in a pan to defrost and cook down a bit. I always find that defrosted tomato based sauces are always a bit runny so I like to let them simmer for a while to reduce before serving it. Sometimes I’ll even toss in a few more veggies at this step and another bit of tomato puree just to bulk it up. If you do this you may want to add a bit more balsamic vinegar, Italian seasonings and salt.
Whenever I make Bolognese sauce, I make at least a double batch. It ends up saving time and money. I use the same Bolognese sauce for a variety of recipes–spaghetti, lasagne, and the base to my minestrone soup that way my family doesn’t feel like they are always eating the same thing and its less recipes I have to remember.
My recipe is meat based but loaded with all sorts of vegetables–tomato, kale, green peppers, mushrooms, onions and zucchini. This sauce is a great way to get your kids to eat their vegetables. While my kids don’t mind the chunkier vegetables, I know some kids would just try and pick around them. If yours are a bit fussier, just brown the mince separately and cook the vegetables in a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil or butter. When the vegetables and tomato sauce is done cooking, use an immersion blender to puree it into a smooth consistency and then add the meat (and juices/fat) in. Your kids will have no idea all of the vegetables they will be eating.
If you go with the blended version, I do advise to gradually introduce your kids to chunkier vegetables because we want them to learn to love vegetables not just eat them because they are hidden in the recipe. You can do this by gradually blending less and less of the vegetables each time you make it. But if your kids are older and less daring when you begin introducing them to more vegetables, it might take a very gradual plan over a very long time. But don’t ever give up getting your kids to eat vegetables because it is the best thing you can do for their overall health!
Bolognese Sauce Recipe
Double Batch (serves 10)
500 grams mince (turkey or beef)
1 large onion, minced
6 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 green peppers, diced
2 zucchinis/courgettes, grated
300 grams mushrooms, diced
200 grams (1 large bag) kale, stalks removed and chopped
400 grams tomato paste/puree
4 cans chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian herbs
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt to taste
- Brown the meat and the onions together with a bit of healthy oil or butter(we use extra virgin olive oil and just not cook at a very high heat, but if my husband didn’t hate coconut so much I’d use that instead).
- Once the onions begin to become translucent, add garlic and cook until fragrant. Garlic burns easily so make sure the heat is turned low.
- Add in the peppers, zucchini, kale and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes.
- Once the vegetables begin to become soft, add in the puree and stir for a minute. Then add in the chopped tomatoes, Italian herbs, bay leaves, and balsamic vinegar and simmer for 15-45 minutes. The longer you let it simmer the tastier it becomes, but if you are in a rush, 15 minutes will do the trick and still taste nice.
- Taste the sauce and add a small bit of salt at a time and continue to taste until you reach the saltiness that you want. I usually add about a 1/2 teaspoon, but you make like less or more than that. Just experiment.