Busy Mom Recipe: Easy Pasta Sauce

I’m having a rare stay-at-home-mom-day today and taking the opportunity to do some cooking with the kids. One of the things we made today was my easy-peasy pasta sauce. There are few things I like more than fresh pasta with fresh napoletana sauce. It is always a big hit with the children and there are never any arguments about eating dinner when this is on the menu. While I quite often do a big batch in my slow cooker, taking the time to peel and de-seed the tomatoes, sometimes one simply doesn’t have the time. This is a really nice recipe to involve the kids in because it is so easy, and I have this romantic notion that it is so simple that they will remember it and be able to make it for themselves when they are grown (or to impress my future daughters-in-law!).

You need:

  • Tomatoes (of any kind: roma, jam, plum, rosa, cherry or plain old english tomatoes. Today I used a mix of store-bought long life tomatoes and cherry tomatoes from my garden)
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Basil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Balsamic vinegar

Quarter your tomatoes, or halve them if they are small. Cut off the bit where the stalk attaches. Toss them into a roasting pan or oven dish. Add some garlic (crushed or whole cloves) and shredded basil, season with salt and pepper and glug some olive oil over the whole lot. Pop it in the oven at 200*C until roasted or starting to brown but not stick to the bottom of the pan. Allow it to cool and then pop it into a blender and whizz until you get the consistency you like – I like it a bit chunky so I pulse it. Add balsamic vinegar to taste – it adds sweetness so you don’t have to add sugar. Serve over fresh pasta with lashings of Parmesan cheese. Yum!

It freezes really well too, so make a big batch and then store some for an even quicker meal. I have not included quantities because it’s one of those things that works so well with what you have in the fridge (and I almost never measure when I cook). You can make it with 8 tomatoes or 18!

Advertisements

Busy Mom Recipe of the Week

We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but how many of us actually eat it? Given the choice between 15 minutes extra sleep and eating something, I know which I would choose right now! But being a mom of four, being back at work and breastfeeding fulltime means that I have to be careful with my nutrition. I have hit on a winner though: my superfood protein smoothie!

Mix the following in a blender:

200ml whole milk

1 or 2 bananas

4 brazil nuts

4 walnuts

1 teaspoon raw cacao powder

1 scoop raw protein powder

1 tablespoon coconut oil

a few ice blocks (if you like a chilled smoothie)

Whole milk:

Yes, I mean FULL cream, FULL fat milk. None of this 2% or skimmed milk please. Our bodies cannot digest the protein or absorb the calcium from milk without the fat. Vitamins A and D are also fat-soluble. So you can’t absorb them from milk when all the fat has been skimmed off. Milk fat contains glycosphingolipids, which are fats linked to immune system health and cell metabolism. Studies show that eating saturated fat raises good cholesterol — the kind of cholesterol you want and need in your body. The nutrients in whole foods have a natural synergy with one another, meaning they work best in and are most beneficial to the body when they are taken together, not when they are isolated. So when you take some or all of the fat out of milk, you throw its nutritional profile out of whack. Basically, you discard all of the health benefits when you discard the fat.

Bananas:

Bananas sometimes get a bad name because of their relatively high glycemic index, meaning they get converted to sugar in the blood very quickly. BUT the average banana contains only 30g of carbohydrates along with 3g of fibre. They also contain Vitamins C and B6, magnesium and potassium. The  potassium in bananas helps you hang on to any calcium that you absorb by minimising the amount lost in urine and sweat. Bananas contain tryptophan  which helps the body to produce serotonin which in turn helps in creating a stable mood by acting on the brain. It makes you feel happier and improves your mood. (And what mom couldn’t do with a bit of mood stabilising?!)

Brazil nuts and walnuts:

All nuts are generally full of essential vitamins, minerals and fibre. Recent studies suggest that eating a small handful of nuts four times a week can help reduce heart disease and satisfy food cravings. Brazil nuts are one of the few good sources of selenium that may help protect against cancer, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.  Walnuts have the highest antioxidant activity of all nuts, which means they provide good protection against cancer. They are brimming with vitamin E, which is excellent for heart health. Studies have shown that eating them can reduce the risk of a heart attack from between 15 and 51 per cent. Rich in cholesterol-lowering plant serums and omega 3 oils, walnuts have similar benefits to oily fish in terms of reducing cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition last year. Regular consumption can also guard against diabetes.

Raw Cacao Powder:

Cocao powder, in particular raw organic unsweetened cocao powder is a true superfood in every sense of the word. Cocao is full of heart healthy antioxidants. Cocao powder provides a whopping 6.5 grams of fibre per serving, almost as much as a bowl of raisin bran. Cocao powder provides 5 grams of protein per serving, almost as much as an egg  AND cocao is full of mood-boosting compounds.

Raw Protein Powder:

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are essential for a countless number of metabolic functions in the human body.  Amino acids are needed for optimal immune function, tissue growth and repair, and to catalyse important enzymatic reactions in the body.

Coconut Oil:

I am so in love with coconut oil right now! It can improve your heart health, boost your thyroid, increase your metabolism, promote a lean body and weight loss and support your immune system. Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid which our bodies convert to monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.

So whip up a superfoods smoothie tomorrow morning. It takes 5 minutes or less, tastes delicious and you’ll feel the benefits all day. I even made this for my kids and called it a chocolate milkshake and they slurped it down for pudding…altogether very yummy!