Dressings and Sauces

Veggie-Packed Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey

One of my resolutions this year is to eat more vegetables, so I am thinking of all the ways that I can add them to recipes. This way I can increase the volume of food, increase the nutritional value, and decrease the amount of meat.

In my typical meat sauce, I would use one pound of ground turkey for each large can of crushed tomatoes. In this version, I doubled the amount of tomatoes, added lots of vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, carrots and celery, but only used one pound of ground turkey. It still turned out delicious, filling and even more healthy.

I love using my new pressure cooker (Instant Pot) to make sauces and soups, so I tried it for this recipe. If you prefer, you can just make it in a big pot on the stove.

Start by using the saute function to brown the ground turkey in a little bit of oil.

Next, add the chopped carrots, celery, onions and mushrooms.

Saute for a few minutes until they soften, then add some garlic and cook for another minute. Next, add the two containers of tomatoes (you can use POMI strained or finely chopped, regular canned crushed, or whichever type you prefer), and the salt, pepper, oregano, sweetener and red pepper flakes.

Now you can seal the lid and set the cook time on Manual for 10 minutes. Once the beeper goes off, let the pressure reduce gradually for at least 30 minutes.

If you cook this on the stove instead, let it simmer for 1 hour.

Here is the sauce after cooking.

Next, add finely chopped fresh basil, and taste to see if any additional salt or pepper are necessary.

I served it over organic spaghetti made out of black soybeans. This pasta is high in protein and fiber, and less than half the carbs of regular pasta.

Veggie-Packed Pasta Sauce with Ground Turkey

Servings:  12

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably organic
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, minced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 boxes (26.46 ounce) POMI strained tomatoes, or 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sweetener made from stevia
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped


In an Instant Pot pressure cooker, turn on the saute function, add the oil and the ground turkey and brown the meat, breaking it into small chunks.

Add the onions, mushrooms, carrots and celery, and continue cooking until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Turn off the saute function.

Add the tomatoes and seasonings, except basil, and stir.  Seal the lid and set the Manual setting for 10 minutes.

When the timer goes off, leave the sauce on warm for at least 30 minutes, until the pressure releases naturally.  Stir in the fresh basil, taste to adjust seasonings, and serve.

Note:  If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can make the sauce on the stove in a large soup kettle.  Follow the directions as above, and simmer the tomato mixture for 1 hour before adding the basil.

15-Minute Cranberry Sauce

This recipe is so simple, but always gets rave reviews when I serve it at family gatherings. Even people who don’t normally like cranberries enjoy this dish!

If you’ve only ever had cranberry sauce from a can, you’re in for a treat! That stuff is full of sugar and not something you want to serve your guests. Making this recipe with fresh cranberries and fruit is quick and easy. Anyone can do it!

You only need a few ingredients: a bag of fresh cranberries, sweetener (I use stevia baking blend), an apple, an orange and a pear. Sometimes I add chopped toasted nuts, as well.

Start by boiling one cup of water in a medium saucepan along with the equivalent of one cup of sugar, which would be 1/2 cup of Truvia baking blend. (It’s great because this amount only contains 1/4 cup of sugar for the entire recipe (12 servings). Once the water is boiling, add the fresh cranberries.

Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

While the cranberries are simmering, peel and dice your orange, pear and apple (I used Honeycrisp) and place in a medium bowl.

As the cranberries cook, you will hear popping sounds as they burst and the liquid starts to thicken. Here is the finished product.

Pour the warm cranberries over the cold fruit and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If desired, stir in some toasted pecans.

15-Minute Cranberry Sauce

Servings:  12

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup stevia baking blend (such as Truvia)
  • 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 1 orange, peeled and diced
  • 1 apple, such as Honeycrisp, peeled and diced
  • 1 pear, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted, (optional)


Place water and sweetener in a medium pot and bring to a boil.  Add cranberries, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Place the diced orange, apple and pear in a medium bowl.  Pour the cranberries over the fruit and stir to combine.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Add pecans, if desired.

Tzaziki (Cucumber Yogurt Dip)

Tzaziki is one of my favorite sauces/dips. I used to order it at a restaurant in Greektown in Chicago (along with saganaki, taramasalata, etc.). It’s a delicious, thick and creamy dip, with minced or grated cucumbers, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and a hint of garlic. I like to add some fresh dill weed, but it’s not necessary.

If you’ve ever had a gyros sandwich, a version of this sauce is drizzled on top.

Tzaziki is so versatile. You can serve it as a dip with celery, carrots and other raw vegetables, or pita bread/chips. I like to serve it alongside grilled chicken kebabs, fish, or a dish I like to make with ground turkey or lamb that has the flavor of gyros. I will share that recipe in the near future.

You start by peeling and seeding a large cucumber, then chopping it very finely. I add a bit of salt and place the cucumbers on some paper towels to drain.

After about 15 minutes, you can pick up the paper towels with the cucumbers inside and squeeze over the sink to release most of the liquid. This prevents your dip from becoming watery. Place the drained cucumbers into a medium bowl.

Next, add the yogurt and garlic.

Squeeze in your lemon juice, add some salt and fresh dill weed. Mix thoroughly. That’s all there is to it! Try some on a crisp stalk of celery.

Tzaziki (Cucumber Yogurt Dip)

Servings:  4-6

  • 1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, preferably organic
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill weed, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


Place the minced cucumber on a double layer of paper towels in a medium bowl.  Add a sprinkle of salt and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Wrap the paper towels around the cucumbers and squeeze out as much water as possible.  Place the cucumbers back in the bowl.

Add yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, salt and dill weed and stir to combine.  Taste and add more salt, lemon or dill if desired. 

Optional:  add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Marinara Sauce

It’s so easy to make your own sauce. Why spend more and serve your family sauce from a jar that contains unhealthy ingredients such as soybean oil, corn oil, high fructose corn syrup and excessive amounts of salt?

Sure, it takes a little over an hour to cook, but most of the time it’s just simmering on the stove. If you have a few minutes to saute some onions, you can throw everything together, and go do other things while it cooks.

Even though I’m not eating starchy foods like pasta on a regular basis, I still enjoy this sauce over grilled chicken parmesan or gluten-free meatballs, spaghetti squash or sauteed cabbage.

So the first step is to add some olive oil to your pot, heat to medium and add the finely diced onions.

Once they are nice and tender, add the garlic and cook for a bit longer. Then add the canned crushed tomatoes and the dried spices.

Just cover and let it simmer for an hour. Then toss in fresh basil and you’re ready to serve! Don’t leave out the fresh basil if at all possible. It really makes the sauce special, and adds a bright, sweet flavor. If you don’t have access to fresh basil, then add 2 teaspoons of dried basil along with all of the other spices.

This time I served the Marinara sauce over baked spaghetti squash.

Marinara Sauce

Servings:  8 cups

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated stevia (such as Truvia)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped


In a large pot, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. 

Add the tomatoes and all other ingredients, except basil.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover partially and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil.

Variations:  Add ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage when sautéing the vegetables.  Add mushrooms, shredded carrot or bell peppers. 

Caesar Dressing

This is one of my favorite dressings. It’s creamy, rich and lemony, along with the salty tang of anchovy paste and Parmesan cheese.

I know, a traditional Caesar dressing contains raw egg, but I prefer to avoid the potential risk for salmonella, which could be a concern. Instead, I substitute a high quality mayonnaise.

Some store bought versions are way too thick, and very salty. Try making your own, and see the difference!

Caesar Dressing

Servings:  8

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, (approx. 1 lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably made from avocado oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


Add the first 5 ingredients to a measuring cup and whisk to combine.  Add enough lemon juice to reach 1/3 cup.  Add mayonnaise, cheese and pepper, then slowly add olive oil while whisking until you reach 1 cup.  Transfer to a sealed container.  It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

It’s so easy to make your own salad dressing, plus it saves money!

You can control the ingredients, use high quality extra virgin olive oil, and adjust the amount of salt and other spices you add. This is a simple dressing that I make often.

Red Wine Vinaigrette

Servings:  8

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


Add all ingredients to a shaker bottle with a tight lid and shake to combine thoroughly.  The dressing will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.