A Healthier Life

I think sometimes people who have not experienced cancer first hand do not realize that it changes the way you live your life forever. My husband has developed several conditions from the treatments associated with cancer.  He now has a heart condition, so he can’t exercise the same way he used to.  Walking on the treadmill for ten minutes leaves him winded.  The chemotherapy has caused his bones to not heal after an unrelated surgery. Life is never the same after cancer – even in remission.

Healthy eating is one of the things that makes everyone feel better, post-cancer or not. If your spouse is anything like my spouse, one of the most significant changes that we needed to make in our lives was the adoption of a healthier eating plan.  I’ve always eaten fairly healthy – by balancing my fried food weakness with an equal portion of veggies.  My husband, however, is strictly a meat and potatoes kind of guy.  He could eat carbs, in the form of pasta, every night.  At first, I really struggled to incorporate healthier options into our not-so-healthy- diets. Then I learned how to use healthy food to my advantage.

My current fall vegetable obsession is butternut squash. I have found ways to hide it in just about anything. Here is one of my favorites:

Not so ordinary red sauce (serves 6)

1 – 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 T tomato paste (I use a tube that can be stored in the refrigerator. Less waste)

½ cup low sodium chicken broth, divided (substitute vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian)

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 lb butternut squash, cut into 1” cubes*

Salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot, steam the butternut squash by bringing 2” of water to a boil. Add squash, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.  Squash should be soft enough to mash or puree

In a large pot, sweat onion and garlic in 1 T of olive oil until onion is translucent – about 5 minutes. Add Crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1/3 cup of the chicken broth and stir well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste (Easy on the salt.  It’s usually in the crushed tomatoes).Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

When squash is done, mash well with a fork or puree in a food processor/blender. If you use an appliance, you may need to add the remaining chicken broth.

Add mashed/pureed squash to red sauce mixture. Depending on the brand of tomatoes you use, you may need to thin the sauce out with a little extra chicken stock. Serve over your favorite shaped whole wheat pasta (another healthy substitute)

*Shortcut alert: Precooked butternut squash is available in the freezer section of most supermarkets. Follow the package directions to thaw and skip right to the mashing/pureeing step.

This sauce only has 92 calories per serving and only 1 single calorie is from fat! (According to my calorie counter app). You’re also getting 2 servings of vegetables in every portion. That’s a win-win!


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