Print Friendly

This is a super quick and easy way to make a big vat of 80-percent veggie spaghetti sauce that you–and your kids–will love. And one  that freezes beautifully so you can build your inventory!

Though I don’t often use prepared sauces for anything, adding a can of already seasoned spaghetti sauce to this mix of veggies, turkey sausage and stewed tomatoes adds a richness that makes up for the hour or two that I usually need to reduce a spaghetti sauce to the proper thickness.

Remember, your food processor is your friend, use it do the chopping and this is a breeze.


1 package Jennie O Hot Italian Turkey Sausage

1 large onion, diced

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

2 large zucchinis, diced

2 large carrots, more finely diced

2 T minced garlic

1 T dried oregano

1/2 pound brown (Cremini) mushrooms, sliced

2 28 oz cans chopped tomatoes

1 can Del Monte Traditional Spaghetti Sauce (not meat or cheese types) about 26 oz.

Brown Rice, Whole Wheat or Shiratake soy spaghetti noodles

Use your food processor to dice onions, peppers, and zucchini.  Chop the carrots into even smaller bits so they will get very soft and disappear in the sauce. (They add sweetness to the sauce so you won’t need to add sugar.)

Heat a large non stick pot over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Wait 20-30 seconds so the oil gets hot and dump in the onions, peppers, carrots garlic, dried herbs and the sausage and cook them all together–you want the flavors from the sausage to infuse every bit of veg. Keep stirring to break up the meat into the smallest possible bits.

After the meat is well browned and the rest of the veg are soft, add mushrooms and stir. You’re adding the mushrooms last so they retain their shape and texture and don’t shrink as much.

As you can see from this photo on the right, you have about a 60/40 ratio of fresh veg to meat… it will be 80 percent veg and just 20 percent meat after you add your tomatoes and sauce. (That’s the magic formula you’re always aiming for!)

Add the 2 large cans of chopped tomatoes, the can of prepared spaghetti sauce and let it all simmer while you boil your pasta.

When pasta is done, drain and top with sauce, adding fresh chopped basil or Italian parsley on top for color and flavor.



Whole Wheat or Brown Rice pasta are always better than white pasta because they have more fiber–which means you feel fuller, longer–than regular pasta. And, as this article from the New York Times explains, great strides have been made in making more fiber rich pastas taste better.  BUT, all pasta made from grain–whether it’s made from whole wheat, brown rice or white flour– has just as many calories….200 a cup!

When I was losing 2 pounds a week–and even today when I feel like I want a hefty meal but know my daily calories are on the brink–I used, still use, Shiratake Soy noodles which have (gasp) only 20 calories a cup!!! If you’re being aggressive about getting the weight off fast, use those. You can buy them at most grocery stores now and always at Whole Foods.  Just put them in a colander in the sink, rinse with water and sprinkle with salt (and minced garlic if you like) and let them sit a few minutes before you microwave them to get them warm and toss with your sauce.

But, if you’re serving this to kids, or you are well within your range of daily calories, use the Whole Wheat or Brown Rice pasta, just watch your serving size and remember to add in a good couple of tablespoons of kosher or sea salt (no oil, it prevents sauce from soaking in) to your pot of boiling water.  It really does make it taste better.

And, whenever you’re having a pasta meal, make sure you serve a big side of vegetables with it.  Steamed or roasted broccoli or zucchini, or a salad of mixed greens or spinach are always good choices and guarantee you’ll be completely full at the end of the meal and for hours after.



About Lisa McRee

After 25 years as a local and network anchor, Lisa was just another American mother struggling, and failing, to lose weight. Finally, she cracked the code, and lost 30 pounds, quickly and for good, by doing what she loves: reporting, cooking and eating! The Skinny is the inside story on how she did it, and how you can, too!
This entry was posted in Fit For Kids, Low Meat Mains and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Lisa Preston says:

    Lisa, wondering if you have ever tried the Fiber Gourmet pasta and what your thoughts are. I just can’t wrap my head around the Shiratake noodles!

    Btw…love your ideas!

    • Lisa McRee says:

      Though I don’t if we’ve used Fiber Gourmet brand noodles, I do use brown rice pasta a lot for the kids.. (They are, literally, eating it now. I made a mostly veggie sauce with some Italian turkey sausage, tossed it with veggie mozzarella and baked in the oven until a little crunchy on top.) The brown rice pasta at Trader Joe’s is the one we like best and,for some reason, is half the price of brown rice pasta at Whole Foods or other supermarkets.. I try and make a dish like that every weekend so it’s ready to go in their lunches on Monday. You’re right about shiratake noodles, they are a little odd and don’t really work in Italian dishes. But at 20 calories a cup instead of 200 for all other kinds, I do use them for Asian soups and noodle bowls..they work much better in those dishes…Thanks for writing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *