Versatile Red Veggie Sauce

Recipes from a variety of cuisines call for canned tomatoes or tomato sauce. While originating in South America and Central America, tomatoes have become integrated into the food landscape around the world. After having been brought to Europe, likely by Spanish explorers in the 1500s, tomatoes were then introduced to China, India, North Africa, and of course, North America.

Because of the tomato’s presence on the world wide stage, tomatoes and tomato products are a staple in American pantries. We reach for a can of the red stuff when making pizza sauce and pasta sauce. Comfort food like casseroles, chili and soups. Shakshouka, curries, tacos, jambalaya, Greek braised lamb, enchiladas and more. And this doesn’t even begin to address all the applications for fresh tomatoes. In fact, the tomato has become so ubiquitous on the American dinner plate, it is consistently one of the most common vegetables eaten.

While this is wonderful in some regards, it’s not optimal for everyone. Tomatoes are affordable, accessible, nutritious, and as already discussed, versatile. However, it is partly because of these positive attributes that sometimes we get in a vegetable rut so-to-speak. And that isn’t a rut the vast majority of us can afford to be in. According to the CDC, only about 1 in 10 adults eat the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables daily. For optimal health, we would at least meet, if not exceed, this recommendation by eating a variety of vegetables. Vegetables of different colors, starchy and non-starchy, raw and cooked. By eating the same short list of vegetables routinely, we miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits other vegetables have to offer. Benefits such as different vitamins and minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, and of course, taste.

In addition to eating tomatoes to the exclusion of other vegetables, there can be some other issues. For the 18-28% of Americans who experience heartburn or acid reflux, avoiding tomatoes may help relieve or improve their symptoms. Also, people with autoimmune conditions may experience an improvement in their symptoms through the avoidance of tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables.

So move over tomatoes! I’d like to introduce my Versatile Red Veggie Sauce. Use it as you would tomato sauce or diced tomatoes in recipes. I’ve used it as a base in a range of dishes from chicken tikka masala, pizza, chili, spaghetti bolognese, chana masala, sloppy joe’s, minestrone soup, tacos, casseroles and so on. I intend to share some of these recipes in the future as well.

While eating different vegetables can sometimes be a challenge, it doesn’t have to be. One way to add more variety to your veggie intake is by swapping tomato sauce for this red veggie sauce made with a blend of onion, carrot, pumpkin, beets and mushrooms plus a few “extras” for flavor and acidity.

Since the Versatile Red Veggie Sauce is intended to be used as a part of another recipe, it’s important for this recipe to be as streamlined as possible. I keep the prep to a minimum by using pre-peeled and washed baby carrots, canned pumpkin puree, pre-steamed and peeled beets, and canned mushrooms. An additional time saver would be using pre-prepared diced onion. By doing this, with very minimal prep of my own, I can cook all the veggies on the cooktop until very tender.

Then, add some cooking liquid for the last few minutes before removing from the heat. Next, the veggies go for a spin in the food processor until it reaches a nice, even, smooth consistency. Now, the Versatile Red Veggie Sauce is ready for use.

It’s a bit of a blank slate at this point. Much in the same way that tomato sauce is. To clarify, this sauce has some similar characteristics to tomato sauce, but you won’t mistake it for tomato sauce if eaten by itself. However, when used in a recipe, you may not notice any difference between the two. It’s hearty and flavorful. The vegetable flavors blend together nicely so none of them stand out individually. The mushrooms add umami, while the vinegars give some brightness and acidity – characteristic flavor features of tomatoes.

I like to have several jars in the freezer to use as a shortcut to making a meal. The Versatile Red Veggie Sauce can be used right away or frozen for use in the future. So many possibilities. Often I make a double or triple batch so I have plenty of sauce on hand. The steps to make multiple batches at the same time remain the same, but the cooking time needs to be extended in order to get the vegetables nice and tender. This is important for vegetables to achieve the right texture with the help of the food processor.

This recipe can be a highly effective way of incorporating veggies into your meals which might otherwise be a little unfamiliar or tricky with some tastebuds, such as mushrooms and beets. By using them “in” the recipe instead of “as” the recipe, these vegetables take a supporting role. Also helpful is the pureed texture of the sauce. No identifiable bits for a picky someone to identify in their dish, planting ideas about whether they like the meal or not before even trying it. Everyone wins! Of course, if you enjoy these veggies, you already know how yummy they can be!

Versatile Red Veggie Sauce

Move over tomato sauce! This pureed sauce made of carrots, onion, pumpkin, mushrooms and beets boosts the variety of veggies on your plate. Easy to make, easy to use. Swap out tomato sauce for this red beauty in pasta sauce, chili, soup, curries, casseroles and more. Great way to expose picky eaters to new vegetables in an approachable, familiar way.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Pantry Staples
Cuisine: American
Keyword: AIP, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, paleo, seed-free, soy-free


  • Food processor


Veggie Mix

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 1 large yellow onion peeled and chopped
  • 8 ounces beets peeled and steamed, cut in half
  • 4 ounces canned mushrooms
  • 15 ounces canned pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt

Liquids and Seasonings

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar high quality
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder


  • Add all ingredients under Veggie Mix heading into medium sized covered pot over medium to medium high heat. Stir every few minutes. If vegetables start to brown, reduce heat and/or add a little water to the pot to prevent browning.
  • Cook about 30 minutes or until vegetables are quite tender. Add all ingredients under Liquids and Seasonings header to pot. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes before removing from heat.
  • Transfer food from the pot into a food processor. Blend until smooth, a couple of minutes while continuously processing. Makes about 5.5 cups of sauce or about three 15 ounce cans.


May prepare ahead of time and stored in refrigerator. Use within 3 days.
Freezes well. Thaw in refrigerator before use.
May double or triple recipe. Cooking time needs to be increased in order to ensure vegetables are quite tender. Poke with a fork to determine when done. May need to transfer in “batches” to food processor.

Mediterranean Meatballs

A little variety can go a long way towards keeping things fresh. Move over beef, pork, and chicken! There are other animal proteins to explore!

Lamb is one such option. But what to do with it? Consider meatballs.

Making meatballs or another recipe using ground meat is an approachable and affordable way to try different muscle meats such as lamb. By using 50% ground beef, or another ground meat with which we are already comfortable cooking and eating, and 50% ground lamb, trying something new feels more familiar. Sometimes we humans are funny like that. We want something “new and different,” but not “too new and different.”

Herby lamb meatballs, not eel sushi.

It can be like that with haircuts, too. But that’s another story…

Sometimes this idea of wanting something “a little different” resonates with me. If I am going to make the effort preparing something, I want to be reasonably sure my audience will eat it (and enjoy it). I want to be reasonably sure I will enjoy it.

Other times we feel more adventurous. And some of us are more food-adventurous than others by default. Whatever your mood, these Mediterranean Meatballs are a crowd-pleaser. Consider serving atop a bed of zucchini noodles to lighten-up the meal.

Mediterranean Meatballs

Soft, juicy Mediterranean seasoned meatballs made from ground lamb and beef. (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free, seed-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 6 people


  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 egg or 2 egg yolks
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 tsp capers, minced
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs I use Trader Joe's Rice Crumbs. Check the ingredient list on your product.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
  • Using a large spoon or cookie scoop, spoon out evenly sized amounts of meatball mixture. Roll with hands into round balls. Place formed meatballs into muffin pan, one meatball per muffin placeholder. Makes 20-24 meatballs.
  • Bake in oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven. Place meatballs on clean dish. Discard fatty juices which cooked out of meatballs. Serve immediately or refrigerate for future use.


If baking in a silicone muffin pan, place silicone muffin pan on a metal baking sheet for stability.
If not using a muffin pan, simply using a metal baking sheet is an option. Placing a wire rack on top of the baking sheet, then placing meatballs on top of the wire rack before baking is even better. This will allow the fat and juices to drip away from the meatballs as they cook. Which cooking option is best depends on the gear in your kitchen and personal preference.
May prepare ahead of time, then reheat in microwave or toaster oven prior to serving. Leftovers may be stored in refrigerator for 3 days.
Freezes well. Freeze in individual layers separated by parchment paper. Allow to thaw in refrigerator. Reheat in microwave or toaster oven.

Brown Rice Grain Bowl with Basil Dressing

What’s the best part about grain bowls, you ask? Well, you didn’t actually ask. But if you did, I’d say – the best part is customizability. Hands down.

A grain bowl, for the uninitiated, is a single bowl or dish meal containing smaller amounts of several different foods placed atop a grain base such as quinoa, farro or brown rice. There are endless variations of this theme which include meat or fish, served hot or cold, with all manner of cooked and raw vegetables, legumes, raw or dried fruits, seeds, nuts, cheese, and dressings.

This grain bowl has a base of brown rice topped with sweet potato cubes, wilted spinach, thin red onion slices, fresh juicy blueberries, crunchy pumpkin seeds and a make-your-mouth-water basil vinaigrette. Vibrant color and varied textures galore. I mean, just look at this picture, it’s a thing of beauty.

My Healthy Harvest – Brown Rice Grain Bowl with Basil Dressing

Let’s talk about the dressing a little more, shall we? The olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing is absolutely bursting with fresh basil. This is the real, basil-y deal. A whole 1/4 cup of packed basil goes into this dressing. And there is not very much dressing here, people. Just enough to give a good drizzle over the top of the whole grain bowl. This stuff is seriously yummy.

The aroma of fresh, local basil in your kitchen should be intoxicating. The arrival of basil in markets and gardens practically announces the start of summer as far as I am concerned. If you can get your hands on some ultra fresh, fragrant basil, please use it here.

No garden or market? You’re in luck. Thankfully, this time of year, many grocery store produce sections sell entire potted basil plants. This will be the best tasting basil in the store. Buy this instead of the pale (in comparison) green leaves in the plastic mini clamshell if possible.

Regardless of where your basil came from, this is a hearty meal. It’s fair game for breakfast served warm and topped with a runny egg . To do this, I suggest preparing all ingredients ahead of time. Store the onion, blueberries and pumpkin seeds separately from the cooked ingredients. This will allow the cooked ingredients to be reheated selectively and minimize morning prep time. After heating, continue with assembly as instructed in the recipe below with the addition of the aforementioned runny egg if this sort of thing floats your boat.

Headed back to the office? Going on a picnic? Returning to school? Throw this one dish meal into a food storage container and away you go! Not only can you choose which ingredients go in your grain bowl, you can choose what time of day to eat it, too. Customizable to your tastes. Customizable to your day.

Brown Rice Grain Bowl with Basil Dressing

A base of brown rice topped with sweet potato cubes, wilted spinach, thinly sliced red onion, fresh juicy blueberries, crunchy pumpkin seeds and dressing packed with fresh basil.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, soy-free


Brown Rice Grain Bowl

  • 1 cup brown rice, dry I used brown basmati rice
  • 1 3/4 cup water or quantity recommended in the instructions on your package of rice
  • 4 cups sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1/2 to 3/4" cubes
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sprinkle salt
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin seeds

Basil Dressing

  • 1/4 cup basil, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch pepper
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil


  • In medium size sauce pan, cook rice according to instructions on package. For my rice, I boiled the water. Then added the rice, covered with the lid, and reduced the heat to low. Rice took about 40 minutes to cook.
  • While rice is cooking, cook sweet potatoes in a large skillet. Put skillet on cooktop over medium-high heat. Heat oil until shimmering, then add sweet potatoes and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally. Cook until tender and lightly browning on edges. Heat may need to be adjusted depending on your cooktop. Rice and sweet potatoes finish cooking about the same time. Remove from heat when cooked.
  • Add spinach to pan with sweet potatoes, stir lightly to combine. Spinach will wilt from residual heat in the pan, especially if using enameled cast iron as I did.
  • Using rice as the base, assemble the grain bowl in individual bowls or dishes. Toppings can be scattered over the top (as pictured) or clustered into little sections. Top rice with sweet potato and spinach mixture, sliced red onion, blueberries and pumpkin seeds.
  • To make the dressing, add all dressing ingredients in a blender. Blend until basil leaves are no longer intact, a couple minutes depending on your blender. Scape down sides as needed. Dressing will be green and homogenous. Drizzle dressing over top of grain bowl. Serve right away or refrigerate and enjoy later cold.


May use an immersion blender or food processor instead of a traditional blender for basil dressing, though results may not be quite as good. If you don’t have any of these tools, I suggest chopping the basil as finely as possible with a chef’s knife. Add all dressing ingredients, including basil, to a mason jar. With the lid on the jar, shake vigorously until evenly mixed.
May use pressure cooker such as Instant Pot to cook rice instead of using stovetop method, if preferred. 

Purple Cabbage and Carrot Slaw

Crunch, crunch, munch, munch.

This slaw is summer in a bowl and one of our go-to sides for summer. Truly, seasonal produce at its best here. Heaps of crisp, fresh, beautiful purple cabbage with shredded orange carrots and punches of vibrant, tender green scallions. Not only is this slaw vibrant and gorgeous, it’s delicious! The purple cabbage is the star of the dish. And dressing it up with a tangy honey cider vinaigrette takes the it from snoozeville to zing.

Like all quintessential summer sides, a good slaw is a welcome accompaniment alongside many main dishes – pulled pork wraps, marinated grilled chicken, and so on. Whip up a batch this weekend to add some crunch to your cookout.

Purple Cabbage and Carrot Slaw

Crisp, crunchy purple cabbage and carrot slaw dressed with an apple cider vinaigrette. (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6



  • 6 cups purple cabbage, shredded
  • 4 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 6 scallions, sliced on a bias


  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp olive oil extra virgin


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine vegetables for slaw.
  • In a glass jar, combine all ingredients for vinaigrette. Seal lid. Shake thoroughly until dressing is emulsified.
  • Pour vinaigrette over slaw veggie mixture. Using tongs or two large spoons, ensure vegetables evenly coated.


May serve immediately, though tastes best when stored covered in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
May be made 1 day in advance. Keeps well in refrigerator for 3 days.

Blistered Green Beans

Sometimes the main entree steals all our attention during meal planning. So what’s a hungry human to do??

We’ve all got a limited amount of brain power for figuring out the answer to the question, “what’s for dinner?” Thankfully, side dishes don’t need to taste like an afterthought.

A welcome departure from the mundane, Blistered Green Beans are a jazzed up version of a classic veggie side dish. A little sliver of Summertime. Blistered and slightly blackened. Smoky and garlicky with a mild crunch. It’s amazing how different cooking methods give your food such different flavors and textures! These beans are super simple to make, using only a handful of ingredients. On your table and in your tummy in minutes.

Any variety of string beans will work. Feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand or find your new favorite, whether it’s traditional green beans, haricot verts (French green beans), wax beans, or Italian flat beans.

Blistered Green Beans

A jazzed up version of a classic veggie side dish. Tastes like summertime. Tastes great alongside meat right off the grill.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nightshade-free, nut-free, paleo, soy-free
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 pound string beans, any variety
  • 1-1.5 Tbsp bacon grease
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste


  • Heat large skillet on medium high or high, depending on your cooktop. Add bacon grease and string beans. Stir to coat all beans in bacon grease.
  • Every minute or so, stir the beans in the pan. Allow beans to sit in one spot long enough to get some blistered and blackened spots.
  • When beans are done cooking, after about 5 minutes, add garlic and salt to taste. Stir garlic and beans for last 30 seconds to ensure garlic doesn't burn. Remove from heat. Serve immediately.


May be made with any variety of string beans – traditional green beans, Italian flat beans, haricot verts, wax beans – they will all be delicious, though may require slightly different cook times.

Blueberry Lemon Baked French Toast

Creamy and custardy with sweet blueberries, bright lemony zest and corners of crisped french toast ends poking through, this breakfast casserole has special occasion or long weekend written all over it.

Often, baked french toast recipes instruct you to assemble the casserole the night before, refrigerating overnight. But what if your fridge is full or you wake up in the morning with a hankering for french toast without having done the evening prep work? No problem with this recipe!

This indulgent, comforting Blueberry Lemon Baked French Toast can be easily assembled while you are still half asleep in about 20 minutes. Let it sit for 1 hour, while you enjoy your coffee or straighten up your house before guests arrive (once the pandemic is over, of course!), then pop it in the oven for 50-60 minutes to bake. Grab a spoon, a bottle of maple syrup, and some bacon – you’re in for a treat!



Blueberry Lemon Baked French Toast

Comforting french toast casserole perfect for entertaining in the spring – gluten free, dairy free.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time2 hrs 20 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy-free, gluten-free, nightshade-free, soy-free
Servings: 8 servings


  • 1 loaf EnerG Texas Toast cut into 1" cubes, lightly toasted
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup plus more for serving
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 zest of lemon
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Place toasted bread cubes in large baking dish. Sprinkle blueberries on top. Set aside.
  • In large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, coconut milk, maple syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Pour mixture over bread and blueberries. Cover dish and let sit for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes. Cover with foil to prevent burning, if needed. Baked french toast is done when bread is lightly browned and no liquid remains in the center of the dish.
  • When done, remove from oven. Serve immediately with maple syrup drizzled on top.


Feel free to substitute your favorite bread or milk.
Leftovers reheat well and may be stored in the fridge for two days.

Perfect Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Crisp on the outside? Check. Satisfying chew on the inside? Yup. Holds up to lots of toppings? You betcha. Can you eat it one-handed? Yes, indeed. On the table in under an hour and a half? Absolutely. Yeasty, dough-like taste and texture? Double check. It may not look like much in the picture, but try it and taste it! I think you’ll agree, your quest for the perfect gluten-free pizza crust is complete.

After a trip to a pizza place (where I was not able to enjoy the pizza), I became a woman on a mission – to create a pizza crust which was allergy-friendly while satisfying my discriminating pizza palate and raging pizza craving. No small task honestly. And I’m pleased to say this one is a true winner. When we ate it the other night, the discussion at the table included the words – “so delicious,” “please make this again,” and “I sure hope you’re going to share this one on your blog.” So here it is.

No need to drag out the mixer or fancy dough hooks, no bread maker or any other fancy equipment. Mix up almost everything in a single bowl. Let it rest for an hour while you prepare your toppings (or do something else), add a final ingredient, knead the dough a few times, let it sit for 10 minutes while you stage your other ingredients, assemble, bake, and eat. Done. Homemade gluten-free pizza on the table and in your mouth in less than 90 minutes from start to finish.

I called this recipe a pizza crust, though it’s so much more than that! This dough can be used to make all manner of pizzas, flatbreads, calzones, and most likely other tasty goodies as well. Let your imagination run wild!

We made flatbreads topped with pesto, my No-Heat Italian Sausage Crumbles, caramelized onions and garlic cloves, black olives, and a sprinkle of oregano on top. We’ll be coming back to this one again and again!

Perfect Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

This delicious dough is made of cassava flour and arrowroot powder, yet has the sturdy texture and chew mimicking a traditional wheat crust. Use this dough to make pizzas, flatbreads, calzones and more! Your family will love this! (AIP, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Resting Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 servings


  • 3 cups cassava flour plus extra to form dough
  • 1 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-1/4 cup water (105-110 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 2 package yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 Tbsp gelatin
  • 3 Tbsp hot water


  • In a large mixing bowl, add 3.5 cups cassava, arrowroot, garlic powder, and salt. Whisk to combine. Then add in olive oil and whisk again until evenly distributed and crumbly in texture.
  • In a glass bowl or liquid measuring cup with the 105-110 degree water, add sugar/honey and yeast and allow to sit for a few minutes until bubbling. When yeast is proofed, add water and yeast mixture to flour mixture and form dough ball with hands. Knead a handful of times, just to make sure it's evenly mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm area of your kitchen for 1 hour.
  • In a small cup, add gelatin and hot water. Immediately, mix to combine, ensuring no lumps. Then, as quickly as possible, pour liquid gelatin into bowl with dough. Using hands, incorporate gelatin into dough. Adding 1/4 cup cassava flour at a time, knead a handful of times again until dough is not sticky (I added 3/4 cup cassava).
  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Divide dough into eight evenly sized pieces. Using a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll out dough into a round disk of your desired thickness. Place on a pizza pan and bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly browning.


Thicker crust will be chewier. Thinner crust will be lighter and crisper. Increase cooking time to make crispier.
Leftovers can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for several days. Reheats best in a toaster oven (crispiness), may also use a microwave.
For paleo or AIP, use honey instead of sugar.

No-Heat Italian Sausage Crumbles

Love the rich, meaty flavor of Italian Sausage, but cooking for someone who doesn’t appreciate spicy food? A picky toddler? Or someone needing to avoid nightshade spices (peppers, tomatoes, and paprika)? You can still enjoy amazing, homemade Italian Sausage Crumbles.

With a handful of spices and a skillet, you can transform plain ol’ ground pork into something magical and versatile in a matter of minutes. Sprinkle these No-Heat Italian Sausage Crumbles onto a pizza, flatbread, or loaded baked potato. Add them to a breakfast egg casserole, veggie hash or pasta. Breakfast, lunch or dinner, these Italian Sausage Crumbles can jazz up any meal!

We thought we might miss the heat, but we were wrong! My husband grew up in a home where Italian Sausage was taken very seriously, and he claims this sausage hits the mark! While I prefer ground pork for a more traditional flavor, another meat could be substituted based on what you have in the fridge or dietary preference.

This recipe makes two pounds of sausage crumbles which is likely more than you need, unless you’re feeding a crowd. This was intentional, because the leftovers freeze beautifully. Automatically put half in the freezer and you’re taking a shortcut to dinner on another night! Not interested? All the quantities may be easily cut in half to make only a single pound.

How will you eat your No-Heat Italian Sausage Crumbles? We ate ours on flatbreads (pictures above) – heavenly pizza crust recipe to follow soon! Stay tuned!

No-Heat Italian Sausage Crumbles

Full of flavor, but not the heat! These Italian Sausage Crumbles are a favorite of kids and adults whether or not they enjoy spicy foods and those who need to avoid nightshade spices, such as peppers and paprika, common ingredients in Italian Sausage. Sprinkle on flatbreads, pizzas, pasta, or veggies for a delicious meal! (Paleo, AIP option, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 8 servings


  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • salt, to taste


  • Add all ingredients except salt to a large skillet. Over medium-high heat, using a spoon or spatula, break up meat into small chunks and stir to distribute spices evenly throughout.
  • Stirring occasionally, cook until browned and cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes on my cooktop. Remove from heat. Enjoy!


AIP option: omit fennel seeds and black pepper.
Leftovers store well in the refrigerator for three days. Sausage crumbles reheat well in microwave or on a skillet on medium heat just until hot. Leftovers freeze beautifully.

Steak Tacos From Scratch

I wish you could have come over and shared dinner with us the night we made Steak Tacos. We could hardly wait to dig in and start assembling our tacos once the food was done. I barely had any time to snap pictures! My preschooler was busy gobbling up a fully loaded taco which had been self-assembled without any supervision while I grabbed the few pictures I did manage to take 🙂

Steak Tacos are one of our family favorites. We make them on slower weekends when we have time to cook more leisurely and want to spend the time in the kitchen. We also make these when entertaining, for date night at home, or for special dinners – we made these on New Year’s Eve last year, for example. The steak marinades for several hours, up to 24 hours, to soak up flavor, so this is definitely a meal which you’ll plan in advance.

While a lot of prep work goes into making these, much of the work (marinading the steak, pickling the onions, mashing up the guac, slicing garnishes) can be done in advance. Or, if you choose, shortcuts can be taken, so you can pick and choose what components of the tacos you’d like to make vs outsource to the store (ex – store bought guac or tortillas). I will say though, the results will be SO MUCH better if you make all of it from scratch – especially the tortillas!

My husband is the tortilla-making guru in our family. He takes care of making these while I prepare the steak and put the finishing touches on the toppings.

The tortilla contribution from my husband is not only exceptionally delicious, but also a huge help. For best results, the tortillas and the steak should be hot – and therefore, cooking at the same time. And there’s enough to do to keep two people occupied during crunch-time in the kitchen, making this is a great recipe to make with a friend or for a date night at home. Many of the steps are simple, so if your friend or date is less experienced in the kitchen, there are ways they can get involved without feeling overwhelmed.

The various toppings add layers of flavor on top of the juicy marinated steak. The warm smoky corn is satisfying. Pickled onions add tang with a little crunch. And the cool, rich and creamy guacamole tops it all off. Each topping plays off each other perfectly to make one seriously awesome steak taco you’ll be craving after they’re all gone! 

Now you could load up all this yumminess on a store-bought tortilla, which would be more efficient and still tasty, but you’d really be missing out on the homemade tortillas. Truly, store-bought vs home-made is as different as night and day, in this case. My husband’s tortillas have ever so much more rich corn flavor. They have a smoother, more airy texture overall, yet with crispy edges, and they taste fresh and authentic in a way that store-bought never will! One bite and you’ll be hooked! 

The tortilla making process will be made easier with some special equipment – a tortilla press and a griddle. However, neither are necessary. You could roll out your tortillas with a rolling pin. And instead of frying tortillas on a griddle, a heavy frying pan (preferably enameled cast iron) can serve as a stand-in.

Fresh pineapple or mango makes a refreshing side item. Refried beans would also be tasty and round out the meal in minutes. And don’t forget a mojito or some sparkling water with a spritz of lime juice and mint leaves to drink!

My mouth is starting to water just looking at this picture! Too bad we already ate all the Steak Tacos. Anyone want to come make some more with me?

Steak Tacos From Scratch

Mouth watering marinated steak strips on top of authentic corn tortillas. Topped with smoky corn salsa, pickled red onions, creamy guacamole, chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice. All homemade. (gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Marinade Time6 hrs
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 servings


Marinated Sirloin Steak

  • 3 pounds sirloin steak
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 lime, juice of
  • 1-1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Pickled Onions

  • 1 red onion, large, sliced thinly
  • 6 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • water, boiling

Smoky Corn Salsa

  • 16 ounces corn
  • 1 Tbsp lard or other cooking fat
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried minced onion
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • salt, to taste

Chunky Guacamole

  • 3 avocados, ripe, cubed
  • 3 Tbsp red onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 lime, juice of
  • salt, to taste

Corn Tortillas

  • 3-1/2 cups masa harina
  • 1 cup + 1 Tbsp water
  • lard
  • salt

Taco Garnishes

  • 1 lime, sliced into wedges
  • 1 handfull cilantro, chopped


Steps Which Must Be/May Be Done in Advance

  • Marinated Sirloin Steak: Add all ingredients for marinated sirloin steak, except the steak, to a large glass bowl or baking dish. Whisk to combine. Trim fat and bone off of steak. Nestle steak pieces into marinade, ensuring all surfaces of steak are coated. Cover dish with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours, up to 24 hours for best results.
  • Pickled Onions: Add sliced onions to a glass jar along with apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, and garlic powder. Pour in enough boiling water to fully cover the onions in the jar. Close lid tightly. Gently invert jar a few times to mix. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Smoky Corn Salsa: Add all ingredients for smoky corn salsa, except salt, to a skillet over medium heat. Stir occasionally as corn cooks for 10 minutes. Add salt to taste, if needed. If making in advance, refrigerate until ready to eat, then reheat on stove over medium-low heat until hot.
  • Chunky Guacamole: add all ingredients for the guacamole, except salt, to a medium sized bowl. Using a spoon, gently stir to combine, taking care not to over-stir unless a smoother consistency is desired. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
  • Taco Garnishes: Set aside chopped limes and cilantro into serving cups/small bowls. Refrigerate until ready to eat.

Steps To Be Done Right Before Eating

  • Marinated Sirloin Steak: Remove steak from fridge. Drain off marinade. Grill steaks on outdoor grill or using a grill pan on the stove on medium-high heat.  Ensure grill/grill pan is hot before applying meat. Using a kitchen timer to keep track of time, turn or flip steaks every 90-120 seconds, depending on the thickness of your steaks, to achieve a classic criss-cross or "X" pattern on the meat on both sides and a medium done cook on the steak. Each steak should have two "cook times" on each side of the steak. When done, remove from heat. Cover with foil for 5 minutes to rest before slicing on an angle.
  • Corn Tortillas: Heat griddle or nonstick pan to 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit. By hand, mix masa harina and water in a bowl until a dough forms. Cover with a wet tea towel until ready to use. Pull off a ball of dough a little larger than the size of a golf ball for each tortilla. Roll in hands to create round balls. Line tortilla press with parchment paper for easy tortilla removal. Set a dough ball onto bottom of tortilla press and fold up the sides of the press, creating a classic tortilla shape. 
    When griddle is hot, add a marble-sized amount of lard where the tortilla will cook. Then place uncooked tortilla on top. Gently move/spin tortilla to cover roughly evenly with the lard. Then sprinkle lightly with salt. After a couple minutes, light brown spots will appear on the bottom of the tortillas. This indicates it's time to flip the tortillas. Again put a small amount of lard under the tortilla before it goes back on the griddle for the second side to cook for another couple of minutes. When the light brown patches start to show, remove the tortilla from the griddle. Cover with a damp tea towel until ready to eat. Repeat until all tortilla dough is used. Expect to make 15-16 tortillas.
  • Assemble tacos with a corn tortilla as the base, adding steak next, then pickled onions and corn salsa. Then a generous dollop of guacamole. Finishing with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and a drizzle of lime juice.


Marinade meat for up to 24 hours.
If storing guacamole for any notable length of time (longer than an hour or so), press plastic wrap down onto the surface of the guacamole to minimize any contact of the food with air. This will prevent browning of the avocado.
Leftovers are tasty and last a few days in the refrigerator; except the pickled onions will keep much longer, a few weeks. Store each component separately, so the flavors/textures don't blend.
To reheat tortillas, wrap a tortilla loosely in a damp paper towel and microwave on high for (literally) a few seconds. Steak and corn salsa also reheat well in the microwave.
Leftovers make a slightly messy, but seriously satisfying lunch! Your coworkers will be jealous!

several varieties of citrus fruits on a plate and platter, each stopped with pomegranate and mint

Winter Citrus Salad

This celebration of seasonal fruit is the antidote to dreary, overcast winter days on a plate. Unlike the brown and gray of short December days, my Winter Citrus Salad is a feast for the eyes. Containing four different types of citrus fruits – naval oranges, pink grapefruits, pomelos, and mandarin oranges – this salad is beautiful, refreshing, and uplifting.

Oranges are a classic, staple fruit in many households, but why stop there when there’s so much variety to enjoy? Citrus fruits of all kinds have a few things in common: they’re vividly colored, bursting with bright acidity and sweetness, juicy, and oh-so fresh smelling! Take advantage of the winter growing season and try some of the others this year; I bet you’ll be glad you did.

Slices of pomelo, grapefruit, naval orange, mandarin orange, and clementine with pomegranate and mint leave sprinkled on top.

Fruit salad, while always tasty, typically makes its appearance during the summer months at picnics and graduation parties. It’s much less often that we think of fruit salad as an option during the winter. But why? With all this delicious fruit in season right now, we’ve been missing out! Bring a little pizzaz to your table this winter. Grab a sharp knife, cutting board, some fruit and try my Winter Citrus Salad!

Vibrant slices of pink, orange, red, and yellow citrus are eye-catching on a platter, especially when accented with slivers of deep green mint leaves and pops of dark red pomegranate. Not only that, but these fruits are a much needed contrast to the warm, cooked foods we often eat as winter-fare.

Close up of slices of citrus fruit with pomegranate and mint on top.

One last thing. This salad is highly forgiving. Can’t find pomelo? Tangerines or clementines look better than the mandarins? Dying to try some blood oranges? Swap out whatever citrus fruits are available or sound good. For best results, I would include a minimum of three different citrus varieties, though four or even five is definitely preferred. (I actually thought I had grabbed some clementines, but instead ended up two different types of  mandarins – oops!! Those things happen sometimes when shopping while distracted!) Also, I don’t recommend subbing in lemon or lime as these are much more sour than sweet, unlike the other fruits. Have fun with this no-cook beauty!

Winter Citrus Salad

A celebration of seasonal fruit, this salad contains slices of pink grapefruit, naval oranges, pomelo, clementines, and mandarin oranges topped with pomegranate arils and sliced mint leaves. (AIP, paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free, seed-free, nightshade-free)
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Breakfast, Dessert, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings


  • 1 pomelo
  • 2 pink grapefruits
  • 2 naval oranges
  • 6 mandarin oranges
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves


  • Peel fruit with soft, thin, easily removable skin, like mandarins, by hand. Using a sharp knife, chop off end with stem and opposite end to create two flat surfaces. Stand up fruit on one flat end. Using knife, cut off peel in strips, rotating the fruit around in a circle until all peel has been removed.
  • Cut each citrus fruit into cross-sectional slices of even thickness. Arrange citrus slices randomly on platter or plate. Sprinkle pomegranate arils on top.
  • Chiffonade a few mint leaves (stack and fold mint leaves together, then cut with sharp paring knife into thin strips). Sprinkle over plated fruit. Garnish with remaining mint leaves.


May make in advance. If doing so, recommend waiting to cut and add mint leaves until time of serving, for freshness. Cut mint leaves can discolor on the edges.
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.