GF Red Pepper Pumpkin Mock Marinara Sauce with Gluten-Free Meatballs



One of the biggest concessions I have had to make in not eating tomatoes or gluten is that Italian food is one of my favorite things in life. It is very difficult to find any kind of substitution for classic marinara sauce. The following recipe was inspired by a canned sauce that we picked up and looked at one day at Williams-Sonoma. The one there did not meet my dietary needs, almost nothing there does. :(. This sauce is my husband’s love letter to me. Actions truly do speak louder than words.

This is a labor intensive recipe, however you can eat it all weak and use it as a base for many other meals (gnocchi, eggplant parmesan, meatball sandwiches, a second round of pasta etc… the possibilities are endless).


GF Red Pepper Pumpkin Mock Marinara Sauce with Gluten-Free Meatballs

Free of: Gluten, Tomato, Eggs, Peanuts

Has: Dairy/Meat


For the sauce:


  • Carrots (about a pound)
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 onion
  • Approx. 5-6 cloves of Garlic
  • 4  Large Red peppers
  • 2-3 cups of Chicken Stock depending on desired consistency
  • 1 container of fresh basil (some for sauce, some for pesto)
  • seasoning (Italian (we buy the one at Sprouts), black pepper, salt, chili powder, red peppers flakes, onion and garlic powder)


  1. Half and broil the red peppers in the oven until they are really charred (as you have to peel the skins off, and they are easier to peel this way) on the outside. Once finished, seal the peepers in a plastic container to steam.
  2. While the peppers are steaming sauté the onions and garlic in a large sauce pot that you will also be using to create your sauce.
  3. Next, dice the carrots and add them in with the sautéing onions and garlic. Also, place about 1 1/2 cup of  chicken stock, and let the mixture cook for about 45 minutes to fully soften the carrots. Add the can of pumpkin puree at this point. (season to your taste with Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, red pepper, etc.) I like my stuff on the spicier side, so it’s up to your taste buds.  Finally, add some fresh basil to the mix. Allow the mixture to simmer for the full 45 minutes. 
  4. Now back to the pepper. Peel the skins off of the red peppers and add them to the pot.  Continue to add Chicken stock to mimic the same consistency of marinara sauce. 
  5. After the sauce has cooked for at least a ½ hour, blend the mixture together with an immersion blender. 
  6. Add meatballs (see recipe below) 
  7. Then, let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Lastly, add your homemade Pesto (recipe below)
  9. Finish with a shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil.

For the simple basil pesto:

We use this delightful recipe we found on the Food Network site.

  • Add the pesto before the meatballs

For the meatballs: 


  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian Sausage (for a healthier version you can use ground turkey)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced onions
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano Cheese


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the above ingredients
  2. Form the mixture into meat balls of about 1 inch each. Give or take depending on how big you would like to make them.
  3. Heat a large frying pan on the stovetop to a medium heat
  4. After the pan is heated, add about 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to fry them.
  5.  The meatballs should be cooked thru after about 4 minutes on each side.
  6.  Once cooked, add them to the sauce and let simmer for about 20 minutes.



Choices for noodles:

Everyone is very different about their pasta. Just choose whatever Gluten-Free pasta best fits your needs. Some of our favorites are below:


Enjoy your meal with a glass of Vino, and don’t feel like you’re missing out on anything in life! More recipes to come with what you can do with the leftover sauce! There will be leftovers!




Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays

When eating with food allergies you have to find the types of cuisine that most easily work for your diet. I will likely never be able to eat Southern food, or a lot of American comfort foods without a ton of modifications. However, in my experience Mexican food is one of the easiest types of cuisine to modify. As long as you stay away from the flour tortillas it is super easy to make Mexican food gluten free. Another thing about eating like this is you have to shift your thinking. Rarely will you be able to succumb to laziness and make “quick” meals. This one is relatively quick, but requires some planning for the pickled cabbage and salsa, as those taste better the longer they marinate.
Also, I am allergic to tomatoes, and I made the most amazing discovery recently. That delicious green salsa served at Mexican restaurants is made from tomatillos. Ladies and gentleman, tomatillos are not tomatoes!  This is quite possibly the most amazing news I have received since I found out I was allergic to tomatoes. I thought  I was going to have to live a salsa-less life. And that is no life I want to live.
The recipe below for these fish tacos are amazing! We had them one time, and I decided something was missing. And that was something pickled! Total game changer for these amazing tacos. Below are the recipes for the amazing components of this meal. These are easy and delicious. Don’t wait for Tuesday to try this recipe. I love eating tacos at home because Guac isn’t extra!


Tilapia Tacos with Guacamole Crema, Pickled Cabbage and Tomatillo Salsa

free of : gluten, tomatoes, peanuts, eggs

contains: dairy (but easily modified, just skip the sour cream in the guac)

Pickled Cabbage (Part one):

1/2 head of red cabbage, finely shredded with a sharp knife or mandoline
1 jalapeño, chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
1/2 cup of apple vinegar
1 tablespoon of agave nectar
2 dry bay leaves
2 medium mason jars or other re-sealable containers 
1. First, combine the shredded cabbage, jalapeño, and garlic in a bowl.  Lightly salt them and toss them in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the water, vinegar, and agave nectar.  Whisk them together.
3. Pack the cabbage mixture tightly into the mason jars.  After the jars are packed, pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage, and place one dry bay leaf in each jar.
Place the jars in the refrigerator — they should sit for at least four hours, but they should remain good for at least a few weeks.

Tasty Tomatillo Salsa  (Part two):

We love this recipe from Rick Bayless! It is amazing!

Tilapia Tacos with Guacamole Crema (Part Three):

1 pound of tilapia (or another white fish, we use frozen tilapia)
Coconut oil 
corn tortillas 
2 avocados (pitted and peeled — I think it works best if it’s diced as well)
1 jalapeño (minced — remove seeds before for milder guac, but keep the seeds for spicier guac)
2 limes, quartered 
1/4 of a red onion, minced 
2-4 tablespoons of cilantro
spicy seasoning (seasoning of your choosing: chili powder, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, etc…)
2 tablespoons of sour cream (eliminate if you need this to also be dairy-free)
1. For the guac, in a bowl, combine the avocados, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, and any seasoning that works for you. Mash together, then add the sour cream, and add about a half a lime of lime juice.  Seal and place in the refrigerator.
2. Salt and season the fish. You could keep it simply salt and pepper, but you could also use spicier seasoning if you like. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a frying pan, and cook the fish. Each side should take about 4-5 minutes.  The fish should be lightly charred and easy to flake apart.
3. Warm the tortillas.  The tortillas can be microwaved or heated in the oven broiler.  Warming them prevents them from breaking apart when you eat them. (Super important)
4. Spread the guacamole mixture over the tortilla.  Place flakes of the fish inside with the tortilla, and top with the pickled cabbage.  If you want, please add your own hot sauce — I like the flavor of AZ Gunslinger hot sauce with the fish, or another great on is El Pato Jalapeno Sauce.