From teaching a sauce-making class in 2016, I was pleased to hear that participants did not find sauces that intimidating and fairly simple to make. (And they all had ideas how to make the recipe theirs, which was great.)

Think about the sauces you use in recipes and take these three tips and ideas with you.

A. Tomato Sauces. We are all familiar with bottles of tomato sauces for pasta, to put on pizza, and to simmer with meatballs. Try this in soups, to simmer other proteins, like mussels, or to use as an appetizer dip for bread slices or veggies.

  • Buy low-sodium brands: Look at the food label for sodium around 300mg per serving
  • Make your own: try this recipe from University of Minnesota Extension
  • Can it at home (safely): use only tested recipes for canning, like this sauce recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation

B. Creamy Sauces. These sauces are rich and decadent, yum! Alfredo is likely the most well-known, and with all the cream, butter, and cheese, it is calorie-dense.

  • Buy "light" or "reduce-fat" brands: Look at the food label to see how much fat you are saving.
  • Make a healthy and simple sauce:
    • Cream Cheese Variation: Combine a block of low-fat cream cheese, milk, and desired seasonings, like this Chicken Alfredo recipe from Iowa State University Extension Service.
    • Evaporated Milk Variation: Use an ingredient substitute like evaporated milk, such as in this Lower-Fat Macaroni and Cheese from University of Illinois Extension.

C. Dressings as Sauces. A dressing intended for your lettuce salad can be used in recipes as a sauce. There are only a few ideas listed. Try one or let us know what you made that is not listed.

  • Balsamic sauce
    • Mix balsamic dressing, oil, and desired spices such as black pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic, onion, etc. Save some pasta water.
    • Add balsamic mixture to hot pasta along with some pasta water. Stir to combine and continue cooking and stirring until mixed mostly absorbs. Add more water as needed.
  • Salsa sauce
    • After cooking pasta, add some jarred salsa to the pot and cook until bubbling. Add cooked pasta and stir to combine. Mix in some cheese and chicken for a meal.

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.