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Spring is here and the crockpot is back in action this week. It's truly my survival appliance when life gets hectic around here.

Per usual, I changed some things to reduce calories, fat and carbs. Please note that this dish starts on the stove and finishes the slow cooking process in a crockpot. It's one of those prep in the morning and go about your day recipes.



  • 1lb lean ground beef

  • 1 mild Italian sausage link

  • 2 medium carrots, diced

  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced

  • 1/2 white onion, diced

  • 3 minced garlic cloves

  • 28oz can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning

  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1/2 tsp bouillon (chicken or beef)

  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • extra virgin olive oil - EVOO

  • salt & pepper to taste

Note: I eyeball measurements. I try to remember to measure, but I forget. Overall, lightly season each part and adjust as needed. We can always add salt, we can't take it out.



In a large skillet over medium high heat, add ground beef. Break up beef, remove the skin from the sausage link and add it to the pan with the beef. Combine well and lightly season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook until no longer pink. Remove from heat, strain fat and add mixture to crockpot.

In the same skillet, add a tablespoon of olive oil, followed by onion. Sauté onions for about one minute, add carrots, celery, garlic and repeat. Sauté each ingredient for about a minute before adding the next. Lightly season with salt and pepper (rule of thumb is to lightly season each part), remove from heat and add to crockpot.

The stove part is done.

Add crushed tomatoes to the crockpot. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the tomato can, swirl it around a few times and add to the crockpot. Don't waste those tomato bits.

Add Italian seasoning, a little more crushed red pepper flakes, sprigs of fresh thyme and bouillon.Combine well and do a little salt test. You can add more salt/pepper or more bouillon. Cover and set on low for 5-6 hours. Discard thyme stems when done.

Note: Before I cook the pasta, I do a final taste test and adjust any seasoning needs. Mix and cover until pasta is ready.

Ragu is usually paired with pappardelle pasta. Use whatever you prefer. Serve as is or with your favorite bread. I used a plant based penne pasta with 10 grams of protein per serving. I also layered with roasted zucchini and peppers to lighten the carb load.

Reheats well and works as a great meal prep idea for quick meals throughout the week.

Xx Dee

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