Lighten-Up Your Sauce
A good upbringing means not that you won't spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won't notice it when someone else does. - Anton Chekhov
When I was a kid, ketchup was my sauce of choice. I knew that some of the foods we ate were cooked in sauces and others had them added at the table, but I was not particularly interested in experiencing unique flavors or learning about how food was prepared - just pass the ketchup, please. When I got a little older, I noticed that my Mom did something special to gussy up slices of big potatoes by cooking them in a white gravy-like sauce. As a teenager I considered it most daring and exotic to pour taco sauce on a nacho, such was my culinary life in a small Mid-West town. Obviously my interest in food evolved a bit.
Sauces are a great way to make a meal sing to your taste buds. Many, though, are extremely high in both fat and calories. Sometimes you can make little tweaks in recipes to help adjust the fat content – using skim milk or stock in the liquid. Other recipes are not so easily made to fit into a calorie conscious plan. For each sauce there are three choices: eliminate it entirely from meal plans, carefully measure and minimize the serving size, or eat favorite sauces made in the preferred way and in satisfying amounts - but serve them far less often.
If you prefer one of the second two options and want to keep saucing your foods, you might enjoy learning how these three basic sauces are made. Use a little imagination to create endless variations that include lower fat and lower calorie options. You just may find one that will suit the way you eat... or you might try one of the many great sauce experiences from other cultures around the world.
Three Basic Sauces
Bechamel is that thickened white milky sauce that my Mom used to turn potatoes into scalloped potatoes. Add some cheese to the same sauce and you transform cauliflower into a major league comfort food. Yes, the sauce adds a lot of calories when it is incorporated into the dish. A great way to get around that is to cook the sauce separately from the cauliflower and drizzle a bit on top.
Veloute is made using the same recipe as the Bechamel, except that low calorie low fat stock largely or entirely replaces the milk. This is a wonderful sauce to serve with meaty main dishes like pork chops. The sauce can be dark brown or light in color depending on the type of stock you use. Make it creamy by adding a little milk.
Hollandaise from CC Palate significantly lowers the fat and calories of this traditionally high fat sauce. If you only place a tablespoonful atop your poached egg or asparagus you'll minimize the impact on your daily log but still eat with elegance. This is one sauce where quantity really matters.
Three Sauces from Around the World:
Argentinian Chimichurri sauce is that lovely parsley laden sauce served with grilled beef. This sauce was so popular with my son that he has requested that I keep some on hand for use in building outstanding sandwiches.
It’s nearly impossible to have a Tex-Mex meal here in Texas without bowls of Salsa or Pico de Gallo - which is great because it's one of the lowest fat and calorie sauces out there! Hollie’s simple Pico de Gallo is tasty and only adds about 14 calories to your taco. Or try Salsa Verde with tomatillos!
If you love all things pasta, this Pesto Sauce is an easy to make delicious sauce that normally has a lot of calories. This recipe shows you how you can lower the fat.
What is your favorite sauce? Do you have a great work around for taking a high fat or calorie sauce and making it diet friendly? Are there sauces that are standards in your country that you think everyone should try? Please share your recipes below! If you would like your recipe to be considered for CC Palate, send it to me by pm. This article may be reprinted (including bio) with prior permission from the author.