Make Your Own: Basic Tomato Sauce

I recently posted simple steps to change the way you eat where I encouraged you to begin to stop buying and start making some items on your own.  I wanted to start with this super easy and versatile tomato sauce. We love Italian food but my husband and I never found a tomato sauce we both liked.  Being fifty percent Italian myself I thought I should simply make my own.  Recently I discovered that some tomato sauce may not even be made from tomatoes but from a concentrate made up of water and tomato paste.  Other sauces are high in sugar, up to 8 to 9 grams per serving. Being fifty percent Italian myself I thought I should simply try my own.  Not only is it healthier but it tastes so much better.  I trusted another Italian girl and chose this recipe from Giada. It is not only delicious but it is so easy to make and freezes wonderfully. I added ground beef to this batch because I was making a sauce for a ziti.  If you do not have time to make your own I would recommend picking up at can of Rao’s.

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Ingredients
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Make Your Own: Basic Tomato Sauce

Banana Oatmeal Cookies aka the Perfect Toddler Cookie

Who doesn’t love a cookie?  I know I can never turn one down.  I feel slightly guilty eating cookies in front of Max and telling him he can not have any.  These cookies are the perfect toddler treat because they get to eat their “cookie” and you feel good about them eating banana and oats.  Max loves them!  They are simple to make and a great homemade portable snack.

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Ingredients

2 large old bananas, mashed

1 cup of oats (they stick together better if you put regular oats in the food processor for a bit, but most days I am lazy and don’t)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

a handful of craisins or raisins

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet.

2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Spoon cookies into greased cookie sheet.

*usually yields 12-16 cookies

Recipe from The Burlap Bag

Banana Oatmeal Cookies aka the Perfect Toddler Cookie

Baked Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal

We have been in a breakfast rut.  Most mornings I make eggs, but sometimes Max requests a waffle or pancakes. I need a hearty breakfast filled with protein to start the day off.  Seriously, if I have cereal for breakfast I am hungry 20 minutes later.  This baked oatmeal is one of our new favorite breakfast treats.  I am calling it a treat because it is so delicious and with very little sugar I feel good giving it to my whole family.  To make it even a little healthier I have substituted maple syrup for the brown sugar.    It can easily be doubled and I love that it can be reheated making breakfast preparation a breeze.  I often make it on the weekends to have throughout the week.  It is simple to make and perfect for a cold morning. Please share if you have any healthy & simple breakfast recipes.

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Ingredients

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups milk (I used whole)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
1 1/4 cups diced apples (I leave the skin on)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 square baking dish and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar (if using maple syrup mix that in with the wet ingredients), baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In another small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, applesauce, and vanilla extract (as well as maple syrup if you are using in place of the brown sugar).

4. Pour the liquid mixture over the oat mixture and stir to combine. Stir in the peanut butter and mix until combined. Add the apples and stir again. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

5. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top is golden and oatmeal is set. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Note-this baked oatmeal is great reheated in the microwave. You can serve with brown sugar, an extra splash of milk, cinnamon, nuts or raisins if desired!

Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

Baked Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal