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Beautiful Beets

(Image by TSL)

I’m currently on the Autoimmune Protocol, a nutrient-rich elimination diet that removes foods that irritate the gut, cause gut imbalance and activate the immune system. You can read more about the protocol and why I’m doing this here.

Blood may be thicker than water, but it’s certainly not as thick as ketchup. Nor does it go as well with French fries. (Jarod Kintz)

I used to be the queen of tomato-lovers.

Loved ’em. Cooked. Raw. In salads. Served stewed on toast with a few herbs. In a good Caprese. Tomato soup with grilled cheese. With mashed avocado on sourdough toast for breakfast. As the flavour base of many sauces and braises. I’m making myself salivate, here…

I haven’t had a tomato since the start of this AIP caper. Frankly, I miss them. I can do without the bread. I can even do without the cheese. But, tomatoes are such a universal ingredient when you love to cook. Worse, I suspect that – as a nightshade – tomatoes may even be a trigger for some of my not so pleasant autoimmune complaints. And, I’m so scared that this may the case that I’m planning to put off reintroducing them for a while… I can’t face the idea of permanently avoiding tomatoes!

Last Saturday at the markets, there were piles of these beautiful looking beets looking up at me. Without having a clue what I was going to do with them (as is often the way for me at my farmers market expeditions), I picked up a few.

Beetroot is so very good for you – it contains potassium, magnesium and iron as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, and folic acid. Its full of powerful antioxidants and soluble fibre. And, apparently – here’s a fact I did not know – beetroot is an aphrodisiac! Watch out LM!

But, here’s the thing – while I like the taste of beetroot. I don’t love it. I find it kind of earthy, and too much of it is a wee bit overpowering to my palate.

What’s a girl to do with all these beets?

Bella and the beets

Bella & the Beets!
(Image by TSL)

I could have just made borscht. I know that would have made LM happy. But, it’s just not my favourite thing – beetroot soup.

Since starting AIP, one of the things LM mutters comments about most is the absence of a good sauce or relish for his meatloaf and breakfast hash. I find I don’t miss it – the addition of all the vegetable flavours keeps my taste buds happy. But LM does. So, I had this idea of creating a tomato sauce (ketchup) alternative for him. He is so very good about eating my way.

Of course, any sauce, no matter how good it may turn out to be, needs to be AIP compliant…

So, after googling ‘NoMato Sauce’, and seeing that there seems to be two trains of thought out there in the cyberspace world – roasting or steaming/boiling the vegetable flavour base, I decided to go with roasting. My reasoning? I love the caramel-y flavours that develop with roasting. And, without too much analysis, away I went…

And, you know what? – not bad! Because of all the root vegetables, this nomato sauce has a lovely sweetness to it. And the roasting allows for a good depth of flavour. I stood at my bench scoffing it down with a spoon – which can only be a good thing! LM (aka ‘taste tester’) reckons it will definitely enhance our AIP meatloaf.

Now, in the interests of transparency (and, because I know my Dad will point it out to me), this is not a substitute for old-fashioned ketchup. It doesn’t taste at all tomato-y (which shouldn’t be a surprise, but you never know!) So, it’s a great tasting flavour addition to protein. But, it’s not tomato sauce. Watties and Heinz have nothing to fear… (although, perhaps they should investigate a nightshade free equivalent!)

TSL's TASTY NoMato Sauce

  • Servings: 3 Jars (technical term)
  • Difficulty: easy-peasey
  • Print

Tasty Nomato Sauce

2 large beets, peeled
2 large carrots, peeled
1 large sweet potato/kumara
1 large onion, peeled
5 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
a decent handful of fresh parsley
10 fresh sage leaves (approximately)
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup water, filtered


1. Heat oven to 180°C/360°F.

2. Chop your beets, carrots, kumara and into 1 1/2 cm cubes. Chop your onion. Throw them all into a large roasting dish. Add your unpeeled cloves of garlic.

3. Toss with a couple of spoons of coconut oil, sprinkle generously with salt. Roast for about 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. I give them a good shake half way through.

4. Remove vegetables from oven. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Pick out the roasted garlic. Squash with a fork to remove the lovely flesh. Throw the roasted vegetables and garlic into your food processor. Add herbs, remaining coconut oil, apple cider vinegar and filtered water. Give it a good whiz until pureed (you may have to stop the machine and scrape the sides with a spatula to get everything).

5. Taste for seasoning. Add freshly ground salt and pepper and a dash more of apple cider vinegar if your taste buds tell you to.

5. Store in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

E N J O Y !

This recipe features in the Phoenix Helix AIP Recipe Roundtable.