The Great Substitute

Welcome  Yesterday I posted about some Grilling Alternatives because sometimes, for different reasons, our plans to grill just fall apart.  Our meal plans and diets sometimes need to change for different reasons altogether.  Like food allergies.  It is possible to develop food allergies as we get older and have to learn to adapt and substitute accordingly.  I know all about this.  I developed a tomato allergy after my pregnancy.  For the past ten years, it’s been so-long lasagna, ravioli, pizza, salsa and barbecue sauce.  I have to read packages and labels constantly, as a lot of prepared foods use tomato powder as an added coloring ingredient.  I frequently have to ask about menu items at restaurants.  I’ve attended catered lunches where I was able to eat bread as my entrée.

Here at home, we’ve learned to get pretty creative with how we prepare certain dishes.  I’m not gonna lie, there is really no substitute for the flavor of tomato in sauces, but I’ve gotten pretty close in color and texture with the use of roasted red peppers.  It turns out, I also love the flavor!  We buy jars of Mezzetta Roasted Red Peppers to use in so many recipes.  I’m going to share one of the recipes with you today.

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Food For Thought  I have always loved tomatoes and a great number of foods that include them.  It was never my plan to develop an allergy to this summer garden staple.  But I did, along with allergies to pineapple and kiwi and a sensitivity to citrus.  Reactions can range from tingling lips and tongue to cold sores to a severe asthma attack.  I know very well that my allergy is minor compared to wheat, soy, dairy, and peanuts.  I’ve just learned to adapt my eating preferences and recipes for this condition.

Like I said yesterday, life just doesn’t always go according to plan.  It can be as simple as the weather ending your backyard barbecue or a momentous event, such as losing a job or developing a serious illness.  Some of these events are easier to move past than others, understandably.  But what they all have in common is this question: How willing am I to let go of control in my life?

Personally, I have always struggled with the need to be in control of everything in my life and everything going on around me.  This has been such a source of disappointment, frustration, foul mood, and general discontent for me over the years.  There is nothing wrong with setting goals or making lists or having a plan for the future.  But I need to understand I cannot possibly control every part of my life.  There are just too many variables.

The list of variables is a long one.  We talked about the variable of weather yesterday.  But there are so many other variables in this life.  For starters, you can’t control other people, their behaviors, or how they will react to certain situations.  No one plans for their car to break down or a household appliance to suddenly quit working.  Illness and injury are two more big factors that we can’t always plan or predict, but they can be life-changing, whether a chronic disease or illness that completely alters our life or a cold or flu that sidelines us for a few days.  Without a doubt, being sick or injured alters life’s plans, at least for a little while.  Other variables might include a surprise pregnancy, fertility difficulties, loss of a pregnancy, or birth of a child with special needs .  Job loss, pay cuts, and transfers are usually out of our control as well.  Death of a loved one can rock our world.  Natural disasters shake our sense of security and stability.  The point is, no one is really ever ready for these things to happen.

I may not have a say in all of life’s circumstances, but I do have a say in how I react to these unexpected events.  Do I have to like it when things don’t turn out the way I would want them?  No, I can be sad, disappointed, and frustrated.  I also need to be resilient–able to recover quickly and move on with my life.  I can have my emotional reaction, but I also need to have a plan that includes some adaptability.  Some people are born with a lot of resilience, or they’ve developed it strongly over their lifetime.  Others, like me, have to choose to work on it every single day.  It’s hard work, no doubt, I’m in the middle of it right now, and you may be, too.  But it is better than living my entire existence in a chronic state of disappointment.

Today’s Recipe  I shared six meat recipes on yesterday’s post.  That’s a lot of meat, my friends!  Since grilling meats were on sale prior to Labor Day, we had several meals with meat.  Most weeks, however, we have a couple of meatless dinners.  I’m feeling like we need some of those again!  So today’s recipe is a meatless meal (not vegan) with those wonderful roasted red peppers I have grown to love!  We are serving Spaghetti with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Olives, and Feta.  This is a great variation of the classic spaghetti with tomato sauce entrée.  We like to serve this dish with a simple green salad and some garlic bread.  Bonus: this dish comes together fast!

Spaghetti with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Olives, and Feta

  • 16 oz. spaghetti noodles, prepared according to package
  • 16 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained
  • 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (you can omit if you don’t want it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 3.8 oz. can sliced ripe olives, drained
  • 4 oz. container feta cheese


  Place peppers, garlic, onion, and spices in blender.  Puree ingredients until mostly smooth.

Pour ingredients in medium sauce pan and turn heat to medium-low.  Simmer for about ten minutes.

Pour in cream and 1/2 cup pasta water; stir to combine.  Reduce heat to low and cook another five minutes.

Turn off heat and stir in olives before serving.

Drain pasta and plate, topping with roasted red pepper and olive sauce.  Crumble some feta over each serving.

Today’s Useful Products, available from Amazon, that I use in my kitchen.

Cuisinart Smart Power Duet Blender/Food Processor

Mezzetta Jarred Roasted Red Peppers-16 oz.

Spice World Minced Garlic, 2 pack

Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum 2.5 quart Saucepan

Today’s Scripture