Hearty Bolognese Sauce, with a Twist

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever made meat sauce with chicken instead of ground beef? My mother always made hers with chicken thighs, and they added so much flavor to the sauce, while absorbing the flavor of the tomatoes as well. It was a favorite growing up.

Today, I share my version of a twist on the classic ground beef based bolognese sauce.  Chicken, basil, garlic, and cippolini onions are the key ingredients (other than tomatoes, of course!), but it’s the main ingredient of my Paleo Sausage and Peppers recipe that really knocks the flavor out of the park!

As you can tell from my previous Paleo recipes, I am certainly not a professional cook. I am a home cook who learned a few simple, yet powerful cooking techniques from my mother. I don’t like fancy recipes with a lot of ingredients, because it’s so much easier to combine a few fresh, high quality ingredients that the flavor just pops naturally out of.  Preparing really good food doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming!

Julia Child said it herself:

“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”

I’m no Julia Child, but her words mean a lot to me.  In general, I like to keep things simple.

When you have multiple food sensitivities, though, cooking can be anything but simple. When you focus on what you can’t have, instead of what you can, eating can become a very frustrating experience. That’s why I went from constantly reading food labels to eating really good, real, farm-to-table food. Well, most of the time, anyway.

Food quality is something that’s not spoken or written about very often these days, but it should be. What and how we eat is a reflection of who we are, and the level of respect we have for our bodies and the planet. Unfortunately, as I learned the hard way, you could have the best of health intentions and still be misled by conflicting misinformation. There is a ton of it out there, and it’s so easy to get sucked in.

Anyway, since I mostly eat grain/dairy/sugar free, I’ve had to tweak a lot of traditional recipes.  At first, I did so to help my daughter heal from a serious digestive illness, but slowly I figured out that I had my own severe food sensitivities, and that eating this way was healthier for me too. The difference was that she jumped into significant food changes all at once (and felt better within weeks), but I’ve made gradual changes over the span of a few years.  We both eat very differently than we did 5 years ago, when we first began this journey.  Small tweaks can add up to big improvements over the years, and last a lot longer than sudden, drastic changes that just don’t stick for most people.

By the way, as a student at Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I had to study over 100 dietary theories, but before I even did so, I’d been researching and implementing a wide range of naturally gluten/dairy/sugar free nutritional theories.  Putting each into practice, instead of just reading about them, was the key to healing my daughter and gaining the knowledge to help others.

Now I know how crucial it is to find health care providers who have personal (holistic healing) experience with your specific health concern.  Food allergies/intolerances and digestive illnesses require specialized knowledge that you simply can’t get from a book alone.  As a health coach, I help clients connect the dots so they can find doctors and other health care providers who not only “talk the talk,” but “walk the walk.” as well.

Back to the recipe! Here it is:

Hearty Bolognese Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 75 minutes

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Hearty Bolognese Sauce

Hearty Bolognese Sauce, with a Twist, from www.TransformedByFood.com. Gluten/Grain/Dairy/Sugar Free and Paleo/SCD/GAPS compliant


  • 1 lb. chicken thighs (boneless and preferably pasture raised, or organic)
  • 2 lbs. grass fed beef Kielbasa
  • 24 oz glass bottle of strained tomatoes (I like bionaturae brand*)
  • 4 to 5 Cipollini onions (or 1 medium red or yellow onion, if you can't find them)
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 c fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
  • 3 T coconut oil


  1. Heat oil in large frying pan.
  2. Cut up sausage into 1 inch chunks and add to pan.
  3. Cover loosely, but stir occasionally until brown on all sides. Remove from pan and place in bowl.
  4. Add chicken thighs and brown on all sides. Cover loosely, and cook through. (If you have a few hours to simmer, don't worry about cooking all the way through).
  5. Add in sausage, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and sea salt.
  6. Heat on medium until close to boiling, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes. You can simmer longer if you like, as long as the sauce doesn't get overly thick! If it does, I suggest adding some chicken broth, if you have it on hand (homemade is best).
  7. Turn off heat, remove cover, add basil, and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes before serving over fresh vegetables (I like it over steamed cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, and carrots) and/or spaghetti squash.

Please note that tomatoes are part of a group of plants that are part of the nightshade family, along with potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and certain spices. They may aggravate joint pain, or symptoms of autoimmune diseases. If you think you might be sensitive to them, here are some great resources that will help you make an informed decision about reducing or eliminating them:

  • Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple shares his take on nightshades, and states that “cooking nightshade foods (steaming, boiling, baking) can reduce the alkaloid levels to nearly half.” So, if raw tomatoes  bother you, then see if tomato sauce and other cooked nightshades do too, before you give them up completely! He also advises you to avoid “making them the sole or primary vegetables in your diet,” and to eat as diverse a diet as possible, which is great advice for anyone who wants to minimize their chances of developing food sensitivities!
  • Weston A. Price Foundation has a very informative article about nightshades here.
  • Here’s a Nighshade-Free Survival Guide from www.PhoenixHelix.com,  which includes an alternative recipe for nightshade free sauce! Here’s the TomatoLess Meat Sauce recipe for you. I haven’t tried it yet, but I am anxious to do so.

*A note about affiliate links:

As always, if you make any purchases via any of my text or banner links, I may receive a small commission, which will be used to offset the costs of maintaining this blog.

This post has been shared with the Allergy Free Wednesdays and Natural Living Mondays blog carnivals.

Happy cooking!


About Dawn

As a Certified Health Coach, I provide motivated individuals with the resources, tools, support and encouragement they need to make the gradual changes in food and lifestyle that could completely transform their lives. Contact me.

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