Macrae’s Spaghetti Sauce

There aren’t tons of upsides to having surgery, but one of the upsides after I got home from the hospital was having a huge vat of spaghetti sauce in the fridge. My cousin Macrae brought it over so my mom and I had good, healthy food already prepared while I recuperated, and we made good use of it.

The sauce is loaded with vegetables and lean meat, has tons of flavors, and is thick and satisfying. I’ve now eaten it as part of four meals. The first time was over whole wheat spaghetti (which I forgot to photograph). I’ve also had it over a spinach salad…


…over peeled and cubed butternut squash…


…and over pan-seared brussel sprouts and onions (with a tablespoon of parmesan cheese on top):


Then, one day, I wanted a quick, healthy snack and didn’t have time to make pasta or prep veggies, so I heated up a bowl of it and ate it by itself. It’s that good!  And, there’s still more left, waiting for me in my freezer!

I asked Macrae to share her recipe, and she happily obliged. Like me, Macrae isn’t afraid to play around with recipes, so she ended up modifying a recipe she found online. Here’s what Macrae has to say about the sauce:

For me, the biggest thing about this recipe is that I have tried A LOT of pasta sauce recipes (from cookbooks, family and friends, the internet) and this is the best one that I’ve come across. It’s from… I doctored it a little bit, but not much. It also freezes well; in fact, it tastes better after sitting in the freezer and letting all the flavors gel!

You can find the original recipe here, but the recipe below features Macrae’s modifications, with some additional notes from Macrae. (Note that I’ve already adjusted the numbers to reflect Macrae’s notes and modifications, so if you want to make it like Macrae does, don’t change any measurements.)



  • 2 pounds lean, organic ground beef.  (The original recipe calls for 1 pound, plus sausage and pepperoni, but that’s “a bit too much meat for me. I just used 2 pounds of lean, organic ground beef and left out the pepperoni and sausage.”)
  • 4 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 8 carrots, diced
  • 8 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 (8 ounce) cans sliced mushrooms (“I quadrupled the bell peppers, carrots, celery, and mushrooms, if not more. Basically, I wanted to see more veggies than meat, and that’s the ratio I was going for. In my opinion, you can’t add too many veggies.”  I AGREE!)
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoon minced garlic (“For the garlic, my measurement was just ‘a lot.’ I love garlic and always add a ton to my recipes. So, I think the garlic is personal preference, but for this sauce I added three times the amount called for and it tasted fine.”)
  • 1 cup beef broth (The original recipe also calls for 3 cubes beef bouillon, but “I’ve also never made it with the beef bouillon cubes, because I didn’t have them on hand, and it tasted fine without them.”)

Herbs and Spices (“I doubled all of the spices, EXCEPT the red pepper flakes and sugar. But you could probably double these too for a little bit more ‘sweet and heat.'”)

  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar


In a large stockpot cook the ground beef, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook until beef is no longer pink. Drain into a large colander to drain grease.

To the large saucepot, add the mushrooms, tomato sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, black pepper, sugar, and beef broth and stir well. Pour the meat mixture into the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 2 hours.

Macrae’s final words: Buon Appetito!

My final words: Be ready, because this recipe makes a TON of sauce. The original recipe says it makes 16 cups, and that’s before Macrae’s quadrupling of the veggies.

I don’t know yet how I’ll use the remaining sauce in my freezer, but I love knowing there’s a healthy, delicious meal waiting in there for me when I want it!

Keep it up, David!

9 Responses to Macrae’s Spaghetti Sauce

  1. reensjourney says:

    Looks great! Can’t wait to try it. Shopping tomorrow. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Reen says:

    This looks awesome! I plan on making it this weekend. Love the idea of serving it over butternut squash. Have zucchinis that would be perfect for it! Might look for a spaghetti squash too.

    Thanks for sharing, David!

  3. Reen says:

    First of all, don’t I look like the big idiot for commenting twice..okay, now three times on this post. First time I commented was actually the first time I commented. Just didn’t appear until 4:21 a.m. That’s why I reposted at 8:35 p.m., because I thought maybe my comment didn’t go through. Sometimes I think I need a teenager here just to help me with my phone, notebook and computer. LOL

    Anyway, here is what I wanted to say today. DAVID, DAVID, DAVID!!!! Oh, my gosh! Sauce is summering on the stove now, still has another hour to go, but looks FABULOUS! Definitely a lot of prep, but I can see that it will be totally worth it.

    Hope you don’t mind if I share the link back to your posting of this recipe on my blog.

    Only made slight changes. I used ground turkey instead of ground beef (because that’s what I had). I used fresh bay instead of dry (because I didn’t have dry bay leaves but have a fresh bay tree that I keep all year round), and I added a pinch of anise to it. Okay, maybe have gone a little heavy on the garlic too. 🙂

    I can’t wait for dinner!

    • David says:

      Look like an idiot? Nope! I’m so glad you made the sauce, and I hope you enjoy it! You can absolutely link to my blog on your site – awesome!

      • Reen says:

        The sauce was DELICIOUS! Hubby loves it too, which is a plus, because I wasn’t sure he’d go for all the veggies. I have 6 small containers in the freezer, and some leftover in the fridge, plus the leftover pasta we had with it on Saturday.

        I never got a chance to get any pics of it, but I am definitely going to be posting about it on my blog with a link back to you. Awesome!

        My plan this week is to grill some eggplant and zucchini, serve the sauce over that with a little parm cheese on top. Yum.

  4. Linda Anderson says:

    Sounds delicious indeed. A meatless alternative might be to use chickpeas or soya beans. One thing that popped out from the recipe,was the possible high sodium levels in-canned mushrooms, tomato paste, sauce and canned tomatoes, and the bouillon cubes (if used). You can get low sodium of likely most of those products to minimize salt.
    BTW-first time checking out your blog David!! Well done on all your accomplishments. Have only touched on a few of your posts-but am in awe of your journey.

  5. Hi David, wow! That sauce sounds good, just reading it made me hungry! Lol It just so happens that I stumbled across your blog about two almost three months ago, and I thought it was kind of cool that you first got to work out with Richard Simmons, (I used to tell my mom he was the “Cheery Man on my TV” Lol) From a few of the blogs that I’ve read so far I like the picture of you with Pepper the dog! Speaking from a place of where I’ve had issues with my own weight since I was a kid, I can honestly say, You are braver than I am, cause I don’t think I could share something that personal with strangers! If it’s alright with you, there were several pictures that I saved to my computer from the blogs that I get to read in my inbox. Is it ok if I share them with my friends? Do you have any suggestions for alternate vegetables that my mom and I can use if we don’t have certain ones that are listed?

    • David says:

      Sorry for the delay in replying – but I wanted to thank you for the thoughtful comment and the kind words. Please go ahead and share the blog with your friends – just be sure to point them to the URL so they can check it out for themselves! As for vegetables, I say use what you like and what you have lying around – it’ll be tasty no matter what you use!
      Thanks for stopping by!

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