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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Tuesday
Sep152009

Beet Sauce a.k.a. Tomato-Free Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce (gluten free, vegan, tomato free)


I used to eat marinara sauce straight from the jar, with a spoon. Cold.

Seriously, I love red sauce, pasta sauce, marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce, whatever you want to call it. I loved it far more than I ever loved pasta - most of the time, pasta always made me feel like crap. These days, I understand that it was the wheat allergy and gluten intolerance rearing its ugly head. But a good red sauce? Like heaven. I'd used it on anything from vegetables to rice to baked potatoes, and forget the pasta all together. Spaghetti sauce on spelt toast with A LOT of garlic powder was a common late night snack. And my vegetable sautées doused with spaghetti sauce were, if I do say so myself, EPIC.

Anyway, for reasons beyond my control and understanding, I developed an allergy to tomatoes, in both the IgG and the IgE reactions. Damn.

So, I've been off tomatoes now for about a year and a half. I truly miss tomatoes. And they seem to be in almost everything - avoiding tomatoes can be a real pain in the a**, especially this time of year. There are gorgeous tomatoes everywhere in late summer, you almost trip over them walking down the street, and I used to relish in the bounty of all of them back in the day. I used to eat tomatoes like apples, straight from my hand, juices running down my chin. I'd keep bowls of cherry tomatoes on my counter and eat them like candy. Big ones I'd stuff them with tuna salad and bake until warm and bubbly. A big juicy tomato slice with a fried egg is amazing (it also turns out I'm allergic to eggs). Tomatoes, avocado, sprouts and blob of hummus? Divine. I'd put tomatoes in chili, in soups, in kitchiri. The all-time favorite? Caprese salad, perfect in its simplicity.

And of course, marinara sauce. The good stuff.

Oh yeah, and ketchup. Annie's Organic Ketchup, specifically. I used to be quite the condiment freak, and would go through a bottle of ketchup pretty darn quick.

These days, I've learned to move past tomatoes, substituting other things for them in recipes, and giving up some recipes all together. I even came up with a pretty amazing fermented beet ketchup/BBQ sauce that I'm working on a hard and fast recipe for. But my heart still aches for them. I yearn to pick a warm, ripe tomato off the vine, feel its heaviness in my hand, and imagine how I will use it.

In my tomato elimination process, I came across a recipe for beet sauce in Paul Pitchford's Healing with Whole Foods. My love for beets is just as deep as my love for tomatoes, so I was immediately hooked. Beets make a great pasta sauce that works perfectly in lasagna (Tinkyada rice lasagna noodles are awesome), is beautiful over spaghetti squash or pasta, makes a good pizza sauce, and is awesome dumped over vegetables. Dip your favorite GF bread into it, and it will take you back to breadsticks and red sauce. Tomato free spaghetti sauce is awesome.
 
This is the version that has started emerging from my kitchen, adapted from Paul's with a few small changes here and there. Seasoned with the classic savory blend of onions, celery, and carrots, chopped garlic, and garden-fresh basil and parsley, it will made your mouth happy and serve as the perfect substitute for pasta sauce in just about anything. Tomorrow for lunch, I'm eating it dumped over some spaghetti squash and local ground beef...yum. Does it taste like tomato-based sauce? No. That's because it isn't made of tomatoes, it is made of beets. Nothing else tastes like tomatoes other than tomatoes. But it is good on its own for what it is; rich and thick and chunky, sweet and savory, and deeply ruby red. Lovely, flavorful, versatile, and fresh.
 
So, head over to your local farmer's market, buy yourself a big bag of beets, some carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and the last of summer's parsley and basil, and whip yourself up a batch. Support local agriculture and your tomato nostalgia at the same time. Heck, even if you can eat tomatoes, this stuff is still great. And it freezes like a dream, so eat some fresh and freeze or can the rest for leftovers. With sauce like this, tomato free living just ain't that bad.


Beet Sauce a.k.a. Tomato-Free Spaghetti/Pasta Sauce
 

adapted from Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford 

yield 8 cups
 
2 lbs beets (about 8 mediumish beets)
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
small handful fresh basil, minced
small handful fresh parsley, minced
1-2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 cups filtered water
1 Tbsp kuzu starch dissolved in 2 T water
1/2 tsp salt
a few turns of fresh cracked pepper

In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Leaving skins on, wash beets, and place in pot. Cover and let boil until beets are tender.

While beets boil, wash and chop vegetables.  Drain beets and place in a bowl of cold water, adding fresh cold water as needed. Let sit 10 minutes.

While beets cool, heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Add onions, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and celery, and saute for a 5 more minutes. Then add carrots, and saute for a few more.

Once beets have cooled, slide off their skins. If having a hard time, run under cool water.Coarsely chop peeled beets and place in blender in batches with 4 cups of water. Blend until thick and almost totally smooth.

Add beet puree to sauteed vegetables, turn up heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and let simmer a few minutes. Add dissolved kuzu, and stir until thickened. Add basil and parsley, and salt and pepper to taste, let cook on low for a few minutes to season through.  Serve immediately or cool and freeze.
POSSIBLE VARIATIONS:
  • add cooked ground beef, turkey, bison, or chicken for meat sauce, or some kind of crumbled soy product if you do soy
  • add sauteed spinach, kale, arugula, or chard
  • add other vegetables, like mushrooms or zucchini
  • for a puttanesca style sauce, try adding red chili flakes, capers, anchovy paste, and extra olive oil
  • add a splash of red or white wine
  • add additional herbs as desired
  • add grated cheese if you do dairy

 

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Reader Comments (8)

This sounds delicious =D. I love the colour of the sauce!!

September 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

Kim - this sounds great...AND...it is elimination diet friendly. I'll have to link back in another e-diet post, thanks for sharing this! -Ali :)

September 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAli

Hi! I've been following your blog with a great interest. You have superb recipes, nice lay-out and inspiring personality! So thanks for a fascinating blog. I'm just trying to find out my personal tummy-friendly diet from this diet jungle, and, at the moment I'm balancing between low carb/low protein diet. I'm blood type A so maybe I should eat more low protein diet..What's your blood type? Can you describe your daily food choices i.e. what you eat for breakfast and lunch? How much do you eat whole grains (glutein free grain, to be exact)and is your diet more like low carb or low protein? Thanks!

September 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

I'm looking forward to trying this!! I've been tomato free for only about 2 months now. I feel awkward requesting my salads at restaurants w/out dressing and tomatoes...

September 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRick

It DOES seem as if tomatoes are in everything this time of year.. . but I, too, adore beets, and am fascinated by this sauce! Must give it a try.

PS Yes, that weird eagle thingie was pretty creepy!

September 21, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

Thanks for the great comments, I hope you all love it!

Ali - thanks for sharing, I always love your blog!

Maria - I'm a type O, and have experimented quite a bit with the blood type diet too. I tend to keep a lower carb diet, and definitely eat red meat, poultry, and fish. However, I don't follow all the O recommendations (I eat cauliflower, coconut, cashews, buckwheat, and other O "no no" foods). I have friends who are A and keep a pretty "A" diet with success, getting their protein from beans, eggs, yogurt, fish and poultry, as their bodies/restrictions allow. They aren't necessarily low protein - just different protein.

I'm still trying to figure out balance what works best for my body too - as I've gone through the healing process, my body needs have changed. . I usually eat 5-6 times a day, every 3-4 hours, otherwise my blood sugar goes crazy, and I try to get some kind of protein at each meal/snack (sometimes that is hard, but I try).

My daily food life often looks like this:
BREAKFAST AND MID-MORNING SNACK: green smoothie (1 piece fruit, bunch greens, other veg) with rice protein powder
LUNCH: 3-4 oz meat, 2-3 c raw/cooked watery and starchy vegetables
MIDAFTERNOON SNACK: whatever is convenient to take with me - leftover lunch, homemade bread/muffin or rice cake with seed or nut butter, handful nuts/seeds, cup of soup, cooked grain with some kind of sauce, raw veggies with hummus, etc
DINNER: Soup with beans or meat, or a legume/grain dish, and 2-3 c raw/cooked veggies
EVENING SNACK: miso, broth, homemade pudding or other snack, leftover dinner, handful nuts/seeds, etc

I hope that helps. I REALLY love the green smoothies for breakfast - I feel it helps set my day up well, and stabilizing my blood sugar. It seems that I feel best with more protein and less carbs these days, specifically, less grain-based carbs. So, I'm experimenting with getting more carbs from starchy veggies and beans, rather than lots of grainsI am finding the fewer grain-based carbs I eat (specifically flour-based), the less I crave them insatiably, so I'm trying to substitute grains with other foods and see if that helps my energy and blood sugar. This is much to my chagrin - I love baking with grains!!! But I'm still eating them - just less of them than in the past.

Good luck figuring out a balance that works for you!

October 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Thanks for reply! Earlier I have tried very low carb diet but I did not feel so good with it. I guess it relied too much on animal based proteins and raw salads and raw nuts that did not seem to creat a good balance. Fruit smoothie does not work so well with me neither. I need protein loaded breakfast, high fiber lunch, and dinner would be preferably more high in carbs. These are so individual and a lot also depends on how you exercise and move during the day, in which kind of climate you live etc. Tricky!

I recommend to replace the rice protein powder in your smoothie with hemp powder! I believe it's much richer in nutrients and amino acids. Lots of luck and strenght with your new ACD-project!

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered Commentermariapauliina

Maria,
Yes, low carb is hard for me too - I wouldn't say I'm extremely low carb or paleo by ANY means, I definitely eat complex carbs and feel exhausted without them. I would love to eat hemp powder, but I don't tolerate hemp well, from what I can tell. Whenever I eat hemp seeds, I get hives, so I am taking a break from them currently. I wish I could eat hemp, because it is such a super food!!!!! THanks for the suggestion though! best -

November 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterKim
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo