One restriction in our diet is tomatoes, as they are part of the nightshades group for AIP followers.  This makes things like marinara, pasta sauce, pizza sauce, etc. challenging.  In comes this “no-mato” concoction–tomato- and refined sugar-free–that can be easily doctored to taste and for multiple uses.  The secret is the combination of beets, carrots, Italian seasonings, and acid.  Bacon adds smokiness but can be omitted for vegan or vegetarian preparations.

Why tomatoes?  They seem so harmless, right?  Well, the answer is quite medical, so I am referencing Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD (aka The Paleo Mom) when I clinically laughably summarize that there are things in tomatoes that anger the intestinal lining and tummy, thereby contributing to “leaky gut” and potentially creating inflammatory and autoimmune issues.

Very importantly for those with autoimmune conditions, saponins, such as α-tomatine, have adjuvant activity. An adjuvant is a chemical that stimulates and exaggerates an immune response. The glycoalkaloid α-tomatine is such a potent adjuvant that it is used in vaccines to ensure that the recipient develops immunity against the virus they are being inoculated against. This is critical in the discussion of autoimmune disease because dietary saponins are believed to rev up the immune response to proteins leaking out of the gut 5. When antibodies are formed against proteins (like gluten) that have amino acid sequences that look very similar to sequences of other normal proteins (like transglutaminase) in the human body, the chances of developing an antibody against one’s self increases. When this happens, the immune system attacks normal healthy proteins/cells in your own body and this is the development of autoimmunity. – Dr. Ballantyne



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"No-mato" Sauce

Tomato-free marinara-style sauce that uses carrots and beets for color and flavor.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword AIP-friendly, Gluten-free, Paleo, Tomato-free
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Post-cooking prep 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Author primaljunkie



  • 2 slices bacon chopped (optional)
  • 1 Medium onion cut into large chunks
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 lb Carrots cut into 1" pieces
  • 6 oz Beets I used pre-packaged "Love Beets - Mild Vinegar"
  • 2 cups Chicken broth low sodium, fat-free
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Oregano dried
  • 1 tsp Basil dried
  • 2 tbsp White wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Date sugar or other natural sweetener
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil extra virgin


  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and beets. Sweat the veggies for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the chicken broth, salt, garlic, bacon, both types of vinegar and remaining spices to the pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 2 hours. Keep an eye on the liquid level and add more chicken broth or some water as needed.
  • Carefully transfer everything from the pot to a blender, including the liquid. Place a towel over the lid and blend the ingredients until smooth. If it is too thick or stops blending, add some broth or water. Be careful when blending hot ingredients because of steam!
  • Return the contents to the pot, taste and adjust salt if needed. Cook over low heat for 5 more minutes and serve.

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