To tomato or not tomato? That is the question.

To tomato or not to tomato?  That is the question.

The answer, if you have interstitial cystitis (aka I.C.), would be "not to tomato".  I.C. is a painful bladder syndrome that requires those who are affected by it (like moi) to avoid acidic foods.  Numero uno on the foods to avoid list is tomatoes (Among many other things.  Check out the I.C. diet cheat sheet for more information.  Keep in mind that every is affected differently by different foods).  You say to yourself, "What?  No tomatoes?  You've got to be crazy!"  And trust me, my friends, this isn't a "no I don't like tomatoes" issue, this is a "if you eat tomatoes you will regret it and may end up in the ER issue".  I kid you not.

Needless to say, it can be very challenging to prepare a tasty meal for someone who has I.C., but it can be done.  I was diagnosed with I.C. over five years ago and over these years I have developed some I.C. friendly recipes that are delicious.  Trust me, there have been some that have not been that great, but I can honestly say now that I am very pleased at the meals that I can fix that delight my taste buds. 

My carrot and beet sauce recipe is one of those.  Since carrot and beet sauce doesn't sound too tempting, I will call it, "Not Tomato Sauce."  You can use this recipe with any recipe that requires tomato sauce.  Keep in mind it is pretty hearty and the consistency is more like tomato paste than actual sauce (although you can make it more like sauce by adding more water).  I have used it with traditional pizza, Chicago Style pizza, lasagna, and spaghetti and pork meatballs.  I did not care for it paired with only noodles since it isn't exactly tomato sauce. 

So what is this fabulous recipe?  Here it goes:

Not Tomato Sauce

4 Cups of peeled and roughly chopped carrots (you can use a food processor for this, approximately six large carrots).
1 TBSP of olive oi
3 large garlic cloves minced

1 small onion cut in have with the skin removed  (check with I.C. patient if they can tolerate onion juice.  Usually if they can have onion powder this will be fine)

2 1/2 Cups of water
1 bay leaf
2 Tsp of basil
1/2 Tsp of oregano
1 Tsp of cumin (some I.C. patients cannot handle this, so it's best to ask)
3 Tsp of brown sugar
1 Tsp of paprika
1 15 oz. can of unsalted sliced beets

1.  Place olive oil in large sauce pan.  Set stove on medium heat.
2.  Once olive oil is heated add the garlic cloves until lightly browned
3.  Once lightly browned at carrots.
4.  Stir fry for 3 minutes.
5.  Add water, bay leaf, basil, oregano, cumin, brown sugar and paprika.
6.  Cook on medium heat, covered, until carrots soften.  (Check every ten minutes)
7.  Once carrots have softened add beets.  I usually slice them up smaller than they way they come in the can.
8.  Cook for an additional 25 minutes uncovered to desired liquid level and so flavors meld.  (I prefer thicker sauce so I cook until there is not that much water.  If you prefer sauce that is not as thick, you can also add a little more water.)
9.  Once sauce is cooked set aside to cool.
10.  Once sauce is cooked you can put in a blender, food processor or use an immersion blender to blend sauce until it is smooth.

This sauce is best if it is prepared the day before.  I like to let it set several days so the flavors meld.  It also freezes very well.  I usually use half of the sauce for one recipe and freeze the rest for another night.  After a few minutes in the microwave what you have frozen is ready to use!!

Please keep in mind if you are making a dish for an I.C. patient, such as pizza, you can only use toppings on the pizza that your I.C. friend can eat.  It is best to talk to your friend to verify what they can and cannot have.  I love to top my pizzas with mozzarella cheese, basil, parsley, garlic powder, homemade pork meatballs, red and orange peppers and feta cheese. 

I cannot take credit for the pizza dough.  I used a recipe from The Food Network's Chicago Style Pizza Recipe.  I have made the Chicago Style Pizza before, but I was craving a flat pizza tonight.  I used corn meal because I didn't have any semolina flour.  I also used 1 tsp of brown sugar because I didn't have any white sugar.  I also used 1 1/2 Cups of unbleached enriched white flour and 2 Cups of wheat flour.


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