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Healthy Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

Dennis and I have been eating out a lot now that I work through the dinner hour.  I finally got fed up with the unhealthy food and the weight gain we’re both experiencing, and decided to cook up enough real homemade food on my days off to last us for the week.  This meat sauce was the first thing I threw together, and Dennis was in heaven!

This is an old picture from 2009 but I had to include it. Dennis eats everything with chopsticks-he's obsessed!

I’m not completely back on the healthy bandwagon, but this meal is a good start. The sauce is hearty, flavorful & robust, and very low in fat. I chose to sweeten the sauce mainly with carrots, and you may find this balances the acidity of the tomatoes enough for your taste, but I decided to add some agave nectar to mine to sweeten it a little more. You could also try upping the carrots to 2 cups.

Serve this over whole wheat pasta along with a salad and you’ve got a nutritious, delicious meal!

Healthy Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 pound bison, venison, or lean ground beef
2 links mild Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrots (about 4 medium carrots)
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato paste
2 tablespoons agave nectar or sugar
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon garlic salt
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Salt to taste

In a large skillet, cook the meat and onions until the meat is brown and the onions are tender. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Do not drain unless you used meat with a higher fat content. If you used the suggested meat, you will have a little broth in the pan with only a tiny amount of fat, which I like to leave for flavor.

Meanwhile, add the undrained tomatoes and carrots to a 4-quart (or larger) slow-cooker and puree using an immersion blender (if you don’t have an immersion blender, do this with your regular blender). Stir in the tomato paste, agave nectar, oregano, basil, garlic salt, bay leaves, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Stir in the meat mixture and cover.

Cook on high for 5-6 hours, or low for 10-12 hours, stirring caramelized sides back into the sauce. When complete, stir well, fishing out the bay leaves, and add salt to taste. Serve on top of your favorite pasta.

Recipe source: inspired by The Cooking Photographer


About Veronica

I have a kitchen addiction and love to collect & share recipes. My passion is baking but I love to cook as well. The only thing I don't like to do in the kitchen is wash dishes, but my husband generally does them for me in exchange for his dinner.

13 responses »

  1. Looks yummy V!! Love your pics but, am wondering how you did the black background? Oh yeah, and I’ll leave out the sugar…lol! ;)


    • Well, I have a really horrible picture editor that came free with my first digital camera in 2008, but if I use a plain background (in this case, a very old black posterboard with stains on it that I have to cover up) there is a feature on there to fill it in with the color of my choosing. It’s actually quite painstaking as after clicking it with the paint can to fill (actually, I think you can do this very same thing in the “Paint” program), I have to go back with the paintbrush and paint over all the spots that didn’t get filled (the stains, shadows, lighter spots). It’s a pain. I really want to get Photoshop but it is after a long list of priorities, such as getting our heating fixed. I’m hoping the cold weather holds off for a while b/c our central heating is down!


      • Oh yeah, you probably could do that in Paint…might take just as long though! I have photoshop elements 7 but, have only just begun to use it. I find it so frustrating and confusing, I usually don’t bother with it unless I do senior pics or something like that. Then I dabble (and cry) for hours…lol!! I hope the cold holds out for you too…sorry to hear about your heating :(

        Your pictures are still wonderful though!! :)


  2. I love how Dennis attacks everything with chopsticks! That’s awesome. =) I always like hearing tidbits about him and about your marriage. It warms my heart.
    And you know, I love meals that last two or three days, even though I’m not currently working through dinner. Last week I made a big pot of lentils on Sunday (no recipe–just lentils, 28 oz canned tomatoes, chicken broth, carrots, yellow squash, and some other veggies and spices) and it seriously lasted 3 days. And I looked forward to eating it every day, too. I think I might have to do that again, but with your spaghetti sauce. Mmmm!


    • Yup, that’s how I did it before. I would cook one day before Dennis got home for dinner, and make enough for 2-3 days. We don’t mind leftovers and it works well for busy people without kids. Your non-recipe sounds recipe enough to be posted girl! Hope you took pics. :)


  3. Thats cool that you sneak the carrots in there. They must add a bit of sweetness to the sauce too :) I love making my sauce in the crockpot.. made some yesterday and the house smelled great all day.


  4. This meat sauce sounds amazing! Love that you used bison for a change.


  5. Wow that looks brilliant, both taste and color wise. I was sitting next to this girl eating spaghetti with meat sauce in class today, and I got hungry and now I’m hungrier!!


  6. My Italian Smörgåsbord (Aka Barbara)

    lovely. I am totally weak for slow-cooked meat and it does make a perfect pasta sauce. nice idea the addiction of turkey sausage. a healthy alternative to pork. my mom would have added also a little of liver (frattaglie). but we don’t have the butchers to give them for free with the better cuts of meat, like in old times, do we?


  7. I’ve been snacking to NO END and it’s time for me to get back to healthy also! THis looks fabulous!


  8. Pingback: Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal « Veronica's Cornucopia

  9. It loookkks soooooo gooood and healthy, will be trying this tom. Thanks! and lol at chopticks with spaghetti



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