If there’s one meal that tends to make the ‘top 5’ list for most families, it’s spaghetti bolognaise. Generally cheap to make, easy to prepare and popular with kids and husbands alike, the humble spag bol is a popular inclusion to the week night dinner roster.
But is it a healthy dinner option? When you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthily, ingredients like mince and pasta may make you nervous.
Traditional mince meat can be high in calories, a large portion of them from saturated fat, while pasta, at least the traditional ‘white’ kind falls into the ‘simple carbohydrate’ category which we usually try to avoid. Does this mean that spag bol needs to be off the menu for you to lose your baby weight and hit your healthy eating goals? Absolutely not!
With a few simple tweaks, you can dish up a delicious spaghetti meal that’s both low in calories and high in lean protein, veggies, and complex carbs, all essential for sustained energy and healthy weight loss.
The trick to transforming this dish is in the ingredients you choose to include (and those you choose to leave out). While it may sometimes be slightly more expensive, choosing the leanest mince you can possibly afford is the first step to creating a low fat spaghetti sauce.
Beef mince is usually the preferred type of meat but lean pork mince, or even a combination of the two, can also work well. Five star mince varieties tend to have significantly less fat than their one or two star contemporaries, meaning that you’re ahead of the game already by choosing the lean option.
Packing your spaghetti full of veggies and legumes is the second trick to reducing the calorie and fat content. Veggies like carrot, celery, spinach and mushrooms add plenty of flavour to bolognaise, while legumes, like red kidney beans help add bulk and depth, without extra calories. Add in your diced tomatoes and quality stock and the beef ends up being the second ingredient to all the other delicious additions.
The third way to ‘healthify’ your bolognaise? Swap your traditional spaghetti for wholemeal, spinach fettucine or buckwheat pasta or spaghetti. Each of these options have a lower GI while being higher in fibre.
This particular recipe is prepared in the slow cooker which gives a delicious, melt-in-your mouth texture and flavour and also means that you can pop dinner on in the morning and return to a ready made meal in the evening. You can also speed up the preparation process by popping all your veggies into a food processor and giving them a good whizz. This creates instant shredded veggies that are ready to be added to your crock pot. Genius!
- 500g lean beef mince (or pork mince)
- 400g diced tinned tomatoes
- 2 tbsp salt reduced tomato paste
- 1/2 cup salt reduced beef stock
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced (or cut into chunks for the food processor)
- 1 stalk of celery, diced (or as above)
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, diced (or as above)
- 1/2 cup spinach leaves, diced (or as above)
- 2/3 packet of wholemeal spaghetti/spinach fettucine/buckwheat pasta
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Handful of basil leaves
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frypan over medium heat.
- Add onion and garlic and gently saute until onion is translucent and cooked through.
- Transfer onion mixture to the slow cooker bowl.
- Heat remaining olive oil in pan and add the mince.
- Use a wooden spoon to break it up and move around the pan.
- Allow mince to brown slightly before transferring to slow cooker bowl.
- Pour beef stock into pan.
- Bring stock to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer for a couple of minutes to de-glaze then pour into the slow cooker.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste and diced veggies and stir to combine.
- Switch slow cooker to ‘low’ and cook for 6-8 hours.
- When sauce is almost finished, fill a saucepan with water and bring to the boil.
- Cook spaghetti/fettucine/pasta according to packet instructions.
- Serve spaghetti topped with bolognaise sauce and basil.
Makes 4 servings – Cal per serve 450
NOTE: Slow cooker temperatures and cooking times vary greatly. If your sauce begins to cook too quickly or starts to burn, add some more liquid to the pot (water or tomato paste).