Homemade-ish marinara sauce

Heyyyyy ๐Ÿ˜€ Howโ€™s your day going? Mine has been cuhrazy busy, but bueno ๐Ÿ™‚ I LOVED reading your food memories this morning <3 Keep โ€˜em coming.. and Iโ€™ll keep dreaming about fluffy cake and gooey cinnamon rolls from your stories.

I found some time to cook this afternoon ๐Ÿ™‚

Kale chips:

kale chips 

(Using *this recipe* โ€“if ya donโ€™t have a dehydrator, just put the kale chips on cookie sheets in the oven on the lowest setting and the door slightly ajar)

Whenever we go to Whole Foods, I emerge from the produce section with giant bushels of organic kale and a goofy smile on my face- we donโ€™t have it in Valdosta!


I looooove kale. Itโ€™s so good massaged in salads, in chip form, just not in smoothies (I think kale smoothies are stanky).

Marinara sauce:


Is it homemade or a la jar??


Shhhhh ๐Ÿ˜‰

Usually I make my own marinara with San Marzano tomatoes. When time doesnโ€™t allow, I roll with this cheater sauce and promise, no one can tell the difference ๐Ÿ™‚

All ya do is sweat out a sweet onion (small diced) and a few garlic cloves (or 5) in a little olive oil on medium heat for 5 minutes.


Add a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar– this is the secret. A little acidity brightens up the sauce and takes away the jar taste ๐Ÿ™‚

sauce (2)

Season with sea salt, pepper, red chili flakes (optional) and dried oregano.

Next, add two jars of your favorite marinara sauce.


2 T (ish) each of chopped fresh basil and parsley


And a generous pinch of white sugar




Serve with pasta of choice- mung bean (or zucchini) pasta for me, and whole grain for the Pilot

I saved a cupful for my pasta tonight and put the rest in the slow cooker, along with these mozzarella-stuffed organic meatballs for that one guy I live with ๐Ÿ˜‰



Butterfinger smoothie!


Because Iโ€™m a goober and made a typo this morning: for the glass straw promo you get FOUR straws– not two! Itโ€™s an even better deal that I thought ๐Ÿ™‚

*Click here* to get your own glass straws- if you order Tinaโ€™s stainless steel straws too, coupon code โ€œTinaGinaโ€ gets 10% off

Iโ€™m heading back to work and then pasta, stuffed mushroom and asparagus dinner when I get back.

Have a lovely night!


Something to read:10 Foods to Boost Brain Power

Something to watch: These videos from the Coalition of Angry Kids. Some of itโ€™s a little harsh but I thought it was really interesting because a lot of times, kids donโ€™t have a choice about what theyโ€™re eating. Theyโ€™re given fast food to eat and their inactive parents set unhealthy examples for themโ€ฆ what do you guys think?

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  1. Carrie on September 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I never thought about adding wine! I keep leftover wine frozen in ice cube trays for stews and sauces. Never added it to tomato-based sauces though.

  2. Laura on September 9, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    No kale in Valdosta??? The horror! I thought Southerners were known for their greens!

    I love the idea of homemadeifying the marinara! I usually add a little extra sumthin sumthin to mine, too.

    Enjoy your evening!

    • Fitnessista on September 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm

      no *organic* kale. ๐Ÿ™
      thanks friend, you too!

  3. Holly @ couchpotatoathlete on September 9, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I agree with you about kale smoothies — yuck! I thought it was maybe because I am blending them in my magic bullet, but they smell — ew!

    That marinara looks so good — I usually take a jar of marinara and add a can of fire roasted tomatoes — I like chunky sauces ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’ll have to watch the Coalition of Angry Kids — I haven’t heard of that!

  4. Little Bookworm on September 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Great sauce recipe Gina. I never thought to add vinegar to a tomato sauce! (I made your Chocolate Mug Cake today again – even better with a chocolate sauce :)).

  5. Katie on September 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Wow my hubby would love those meatballs. Whats the recipe? I totally agree with everything you said about kale. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Fitnessista on September 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm

      i just did a pack of organic beef with 1 egg, dried oregano, garlic, sea salt, pepper, fresh parsley, basil, mary’s gone cracker’s bread crumbs, rosemary, parmesean and stuffed them each with a thick coin of fresh mozzarella. browned them on the stove, then added to the slow cooker with the sauce, on low

  6. allison @ livingoneday on September 9, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    haha i figured that out about the straws this am too! i was looking at the website and it said 4 for $35…and your promo was like 2 for $25 haha!! glad you figured that out. great deal!

  7. Whitney @ Whitinspired on September 9, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I’ve never made my own pasta sauce…probably because my mom never made homemade! I’m off to watch those videos b/c sadly, that’s how I grew up. My mom had a rotation of 4 vegetables. Broccoli covered in velveeta cheese, mashed potatoes, corn and butter beans cooked in SUGAR. We ate alot of fast food and neither of my parents exercised. It’s taken awhile, well all of my adult life thus far, to learn healthy habits. I find new veggies I like all the time!

  8. Megan @ Healthy Hoggin' on September 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Great tips for making the marinara sauce taste “homemade!” Have you ever tried Paesana marinara sauce?? They sell it at my Whole Foods, and it’s the BEST sauce I’ve ever had in my life! It tastes like professional, restaurant pomodoro sauce–> straight out of the jar! In fact, I’ve been known to eat it straight from the jar by the spoonful! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for awesome glass straw deal!

    • Fitnessista on September 9, 2010 at 8:17 pm

      oh YUM! i’ll be on the lookout ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on September 9, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Such a good tip! I never make my own sauce because I don’t like tomato sauce. I know… it’s a sin.

  10. Laury @ thefitnessdish on September 9, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    My Nona makes the BEST sauce, I have made her recipe, but it’s SO much work, and my husband prefers Maggianos sauce over all…I don’t think it’s that great, and think it’s a total sin…but I def use cheater sauce often to cut corners!

    I think the parents are THE example for kids…they will eat what you feed them!! If they are never given soda, or fast food, they wouldn’t miss it!

  11. Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter on September 9, 2010 at 6:26 pm

    Hehe thanks for the great tips on making a jarred sauce a bit more special. I can’t wait to watch that video. The foods that make me sick now, made me sick when I was a little kid. My body doesn’t digest soy sauce, yogurt (besides goats milk), grapes, cottage cheese or sour cream very well. I had stomach pains but no one attributed it to what I was eating. Everyone just said I was making it up. Also dining out was my worst nightmare. I knew that it was making me sick. I went vegetarian when I was 8 for a short while because I got sick when I ate meat at a restaurant. It was probably what the restaurants put on the meat though.

  12. Mara @ What's For Dinner? on September 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I do the same thing with jarred sauce… its such a great “cheat!”

  13. Kelly F. on September 9, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Oh my great kale chips! I just moved to OKC, and have discovered 105 degrees kale chips. I live for them. This sounds like a similar recipe based on the ingredients. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Fitnessista on September 9, 2010 at 8:16 pm

      i’m so jealous you’re in okc! i miss working at 105 with all of my soul

      • Kelly F. on September 9, 2010 at 9:12 pm

        I am so happy to be here too! One of the few cool AF base cities, as you know! The people who who work there are so great! I can see how you would love it!

  14. Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat on September 9, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    I always add a little sweetener to my pasta sauce as well – I like it spicy, but with a hint of sweetness too. Good trick with the wine, I’ll have to try that for sure!

  15. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine on September 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Such a great idea to add red wine to the sauce- I need to remember that next time I dress up red sauce!

  16. alison on September 9, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    I like to add balsamic vinegar to my spaghetti sauce as well. Hunts makes canned diced tomatoes w/ balsamic vinegar and olive oil which I like to add to my sauce. One day I was out of the canned tomatoes, so I added a bit of balsamic and a small splash of olive oil to my sauce and got the same result.
    I had kale chips for dinner.

  17. Heather (Heather's Dish) on September 9, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    stuffed mushrooms are the best…hope you enjoy work!

  18. rachael on September 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    You don’t like kale in your smoothies? If you’re ever in CT in the summer or fall I’ll make you a smoothie with my garden kale and I promise I’ll change your mind about that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. rachael on September 9, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    You don’t like kale in your smoothies? If you’re ever in CT in the summer or fall I’ll make you a smoothie with my garden kale and I promise I’ll change your mind about that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. christina cadden on September 9, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    That butterfinger smoothie sounds so good!

  21. Cara Craves... on September 9, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    In relation to your last post…
    My Grandma is famous for her Canadian maple butter tarts. Featured in many newspapers and cookbooks, it’s a winner for sure. I got a personal lesson from her on how to make them…lucky me.
    I think all foods taste better when they are made by a Mom or Grandma.
    Every time I would stay over at my Grandma’s house when I was little she would make me toast with fresh raspberry jam…I don’t know why, but it always tasted like a gift from the heavens. Ha!

  22. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman on September 9, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I always use jarred sauce mainly to save time. Still, I love a simple red sauce, which is really hard to find in a jar. Most have so many onions!

  23. Tina on September 9, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I always do jarred sauces. I just focus on buying the most natural ones.

    And I do think parents have the responsibility to be good examples for healthy living to their kids.

  24. Melissa (MelissaLikesToEat) on September 9, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    I do about half jarred/half homemade when it comes to marinara sauce. Depends on how much time/energy I have. ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Erika @ Food, Fitness, & Fun on September 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks for the tips on the “homemade” marinara. Never would have thought about the vinegar… BTW – I just looked up the recipe for your Butterfinger Smoothie – I HAVE to make it! YUM! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on September 9, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Haha I do that with my pasta sauce all the time! I do almost exactly what you do, but I’ve never added wine or balsamic before. Thanks for the tip girl! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Caitlin (EatFeats) on September 9, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    What a great marinara sauce idea! All your food ALWAYS looks (and I’m sure tastes) SO good, and I think it is so sweet that you make the pilot special, delicious things.

  28. Christina @ Food.Fun.Fabulous on September 9, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I love how you spice up the jarred sauce! And those meatballs sounds phenomenal!

  29. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on September 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    No kale in Valdosta, omg that’s awful! What’s up with all that Southern cooking, collards and you’d think kale, too? Guess not! Your kale chips look great, i need to make a batch!

    The whole thing about kids eating junk food, don’t even get me started. It takes very little extra time and very little extra money to feed a child REAL food, if you’re already cooking it and buying it for yourself. Anyone who says they dont have “time” to eat/cook properly or enough money to buy real food, not crap, needs to examine their life choices and financial choices and cut out other things from their cable tv to their starbucks to eating out so that they can buy fresh, real food ๐Ÿ™‚ Ok, just my little tiny humble opinion there ๐Ÿ™‚


  30. Paige @Running Around Normal on September 9, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I haven’t had kale in a minute..mmm ๐Ÿ™‚ While we *do* have organic kale here in Normal, there’s hardly any organic meat at the markets. There’s one…but they only sell it frozen, which is usually fine:)
    I think my husband would LOVE those meatballs.

  31. Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat on September 9, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    I have heard about these kale chips before but I’ve never tried them. I’m more of a spinach and romaine fan than a kale fan. Maybe I’ll have to try these on some rainy day!

    Totally with you on the kids and junk food thing. I was lucky to have parents who made real food.

  32. Tamara on September 10, 2010 at 12:18 am

    Boo G’izzle. Open sky only ships to the US ๐Ÿ™

  33. Jessica@tastyandtrim on September 10, 2010 at 12:20 am

    Such a smart way to doctor up store-bought pasta sauce! I will definitely be stealing this idea in the future ๐Ÿ˜‰

  34. Jocelyn on September 10, 2010 at 1:29 am

    everything looks super delicious! Yum!!

  35. Larinna on September 10, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Those meatballs look like an awesome idea for when you don’t have tons of time to make dinner. Can you post the recipe for us? I would love love love to make them!! PLEASE!!!


    • Fitnessista on September 10, 2010 at 7:46 am

      hey larinna,
      in the comments above, i described what i did to make the meatballs- no *real* recipe

  36. RhodeyGirl on September 10, 2010 at 9:32 am

    Thanks again for the birthday shout out. It was super sweet!

  37. Lauren on September 10, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Great tip on the “homemade”-ish sauce! There are some great sauce brands out there that I like using, but they’d be AWESOME with a little extra freshness.

  38. Tiffany (Stuffed with Fluff) on September 10, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for the tips. I try to make homemade sauce when I can, but honestly? Sometimes life gets way too busy for me. We always try and spice up our jars of sauce, but I definitely want to try your tips this weekend =)

  39. Amy on September 10, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    If you just added crushed tomatoes and diced instead of the jarred stuff you’d have a homemade sauce anyway in the same amount of time. The point of jarred is so you don’t have to do any of the other stuff. Not sure about the point of this post.

    • Fitnessista on September 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm

      we must made different versions of homemade marinara.. because mine uses veggie stock, fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, kalamata olives, fresh herbs and simmers for at least an hour. it’s much more time intensive than the jarred version i posted

  40. Ashley on September 10, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I have been dying to try Kale chips! I think I am going to try it out tonight!

  41. CaSaundra on September 10, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I bet that sauce smells amazing!! It’d be great over spaghetti squash!

  42. Sana on September 10, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I love the idea of embellishing jar-sauce! And no one will know, unless you blog about it :)!

  43. LisaG on September 10, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I do the same thing to doctor up my jarred sauce. Sometimes a shortcut is necessary.

  44. Kim on January 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    My absolute favorite is Paesana marinara. I buy it form Whole Foods or my local Giant ๐Ÿ™‚

  45. Renee on July 20, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    Wow, how i ended up here! I do not know, but I am now very, verry, verrry hungry. Not many think to add SUGAR, RED PEPPER FLAKES, WINE or better yet BASLAMIC VINEGER….the best im a having a MOUTH WATERING EXPLOSION>….oh, my
    I feel stupid for saying becuase im actually replying to somethig pretty DANG GOOD!!!!!

  46. Allison Galassie on May 30, 2014 at 9:45 am

    I would love to see your recipe for full home-made sauce!

    • Fitnessista on May 30, 2014 at 11:02 am

      sure i can do that! i’ve been in a pasta mood ๐Ÿ™‚

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