Momma Duggan’s Healthy Italian Meat Sauce

  • Yield:20 servings
  • Difficulty:Involved
  • Time:90 minutes

This recipe is why I am so spoiled about my Italian food—Thanks for that Mom! In fact, it was specifically requested on the ESPN910 radio show during the second part of my interview by hosts Jeff Golini and Brian Andrews of EFX Sports. “Do you make any Italian food?” My answer went something like this: “I’m from New York—of course!”

Italian food often gets demonized for being all kinds of fattening. But, the truth is—it can be wonderfully healthy! If you substitute certain ingredients, like ground turkey and turkey sausages, for ground beef and regular sausages, you can lower the fat and calories substantially without hurting the flavor. Another reason Italian food can be considered fattening is because of the carbs—many people eat spaghetti with bread, which doubles the carbs and calories.

My philosophy? It’s all about the portion size: I have either bread or noodles, but not both, or I have half the amount of both. Why deprive yourself? Whole wheat spaghetti or dark bread, like pumpernickel, is lower in the GI index, which is a better choice for your carb. This sauce is also wonderful served over brown rice or sliced pan-seared zucchini, and it is thick enough that you can even eat it without anything else at all.

The question is: Does it taste good after you have lowered the calories? Answer: It is not only good, it’s mouth-wateringly divine! Each time I’ve made this recipe, people remember it for YEARS. This is a big recipe so you will have lots of leftovers, enough for several meals for just you or your whole family. You get twenty 1-cup servings, though you will probably want to eat more than 1 cup. The time you spend cooking will be totally worth it, plus it tastes even better the next day! You can even freeze it for a month or so as well.


  • 2-24 oz. jars Organic Tomato sauce: Tomato Basil Flavored
  • 18 oz. can Tomato paste
  • 2 packs 20 oz. 1.25lb ground turkey 93%lean
  • 20 oz. (5 links) Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage
  • 1 green pepper (1 cup) chopped
  • 14 oz. (3 Links) Hot Italian Turkey Sausage
  • 1 red pepper (1 cup) chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, (1 cup) chopped
  • 3 pinches of sugar 3 cloves of garlic (or 1/2 tsp powder)
  • 8 oz. fresh, 1 tbsp. dried Basil (fresh is best)
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper


Take the sausages and squeeze the meat out of the casing into 1” cubes in a large pan. Add ground turkey and brown all of the meat lightly until most of the pink goes away. Don’t take out the water from this. Add chopped or diced onion and pepper. Cook a few minutes. Add tomato sauce from the jars (but NOT the canned paste yet). We will save that until later. Press and add garlic, then stir. Add 1 tbsp. oregano, 3 pinches of sugar, ¼ tsp crushed red pepper; stir, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Spoon out any fat (there won’t be very much if using turkey products). Now add the canned tomato paste, stir, let simmer for 15-30 more minutes, and you are ready to eat for the next week!

*To lower the sodium, use more ground turkey instead of sausages, or use ½ the amount of sausages.


Makes 20-1 cup servings

Serving: 1 cup/ 8oz
Calories: 211
Protein: 22 g
Fat: 9 g
Carbs: 11 g

The sauce is so thick it can be eaten plain, but you can also serve it over whole wheat pasta, brown rice, or chopped pan seared zucchini.

Whole Wheat Pasta 1 cup cooked, add: *1 cup
Calories: 174
Protein: 7.5 g
Fat: 1 g
Carbs: 37 g

Brown rice 1 cup cooked, add: *1 cup
Calories: 218
Protein: 4.5 g
Fat: 2 g
Carbs: 46 g

Zucchini 1 cup cooked, add: *1 cup
Calories: 20
Protein: 1.5 g
Fat: .2 g
Carbs: 4.2 g