Anyone who watches what they’re eating knows that sauce is your body’s enemy … And your taste buds’ best friend. Boring baked chicken or vegetable stir fry can be instantly livened up with a good sauce or glaze. And that pasta indulgence you’ve allowed yourself? Without sauce – be it marinara, alfredo or a snazzy vodka rosé© – it might as well be cardboard. The key is to find ways to make your sauces with healthier options. Learn to swap out fatty fillers for these sauce staples and you’ll never hesitate over that extra tablespoon again.
Mustard dominates the spectrum of dishes it can accompany as a sauce “ meat, side dishes, salad, seafood, even some desserts (see below). The key to turning this tart trick into a treat is adding honey or syrup to it. You can’t go wrong with honey mustard, but try taking it a step further by infusing it with spices like dill or rosemary as well. A pinch of powdered ginger will give your honey mustard a kick, too. Slather this winning sauce on just about anything, but one of my favourite places is to mix a bit of your favourite spiced honey mustard (I like rosemary) with peaches in a baked tart for a sweet-meets-savoury dessert.
Even if you aren’t one for spicy food, this can add a whole new dimension to overly-creamy dishes “ think bland mac ˜n cheese, or scalloped potatoes. If you’re not a fan of hot sauce, you probably just haven’t found the right one. The fact is, hot sauce does have flavour “ it’s not just burn fodder for your tongue. If you haven’t found one you find has a flavour, experiment with different kinds. Many brands have varying levels of heat, so start with a mild to get a feel for what suits you and work your way up. For pasta, mix it with crushed tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and basil. It’s also great in a versatile peanut sauce for stir frys: mix hot sauce with peanut butter, chicken or vegetable stock, a bit of soy sauce, ginger and honey.
Vinegar is another great way to add kick to any sauce, and when mixed with olive or canola oil, is probably the healthiest salad dressing you can make that still has flavour. I like to add frozen raspberries or blueberries (really, any frozen fruit) to sweeten the dressing as the fruit melts. Balsamic or white are equally good; it’s just preference, but balsamic is more versatile in that you can use it in entré©e sauces as well. Try my favourite balsamic sauce (this works for meat too): balsamic vinegar, olive oil, a pinch of powdered ginger, mustard, honey, and garlic.
Olive oil’s value as a sauce base is a no-brainer. Although it has fat, it’s mostly monounsaturated fat, which helps lower cholesterol and maintain weight loss. Many people forget about infused oils, which often make great sauces or marinades as a stand-alone. You can get garlic or sesame oil at most grocery stores. And if your grocery store has them, try out oils infused with flavours like rosemary, lemon or chili peppers (otherwise, it’s worth a trip to a specialty store). It’s like skipping a step in adding levels of flavour to your sauces.
Cottage Cheese/ Ricotta Cheese
Dairy has somehow become associated with uber fat in sauces (I blame the heavy cream). But you don’t have to swear off creamy sauces forever to stay slim. Cottage and ricotta cheese are good low-fat options to add substance to any cream-based sauce. Just be sure to blend them if you want a smooth consistency, and watch out for sodium. Many cottage and ricotta cheeses have a ton of added salt to boost flavour “ look for one with low sodium.