For many dieters, sauces are one of the first things to be eliminated. That’s unfortunate because there are many ways to make sweet and savory low calorie sauces, such as mayonnaise, gravy, and dessert sauces. Trimming the fat and sugar from sauces added before, during, or after cooking can mean the difference between crafting a permanent and healthful dietary change and one that is too restrictive to last for any meaningful length of time.
Fat, flour, and eggs are the heartbeat of many savory sauces, but that heartbeat could clog the dieter’s. Fortunately, there are many recipes available that replace dietary disasters with more healthful counterparts. Substituting low-fat or fat-free yogurt for high-fat sour cream can turn a chip dip into a welcome guest at anyone’s party, for example. Low calorie mayo made with egg whites, a little curry powder, and just a splash of olive oil whipped in the blender can convince tuna or chicken salad to sing.
Substituting low or no-fat counterparts for cream, cheese, or mayonnaise does give the sauce a less satisfying mouth feel. Spiking dips and gravies with freshly chopped herbs, minced garlic, or a dash of hot sauce draws the diner’s attention away from what’s missing. It adds extra nutrition as well.
Another way to create savory, low calorie sauces is by thickening them with flaxseed or chia seed rather than with a more traditional butter-and-flour roux. Both types of seed absorb many times their weight in liquid and can use this superpower to transform a frail sauce into a jelled go-getter. Of course, in most cases, a little butter or oil will still be necessary.
Some low calorie sauces use vinegar to add a flavorful zing. Apple cider, red wine, and balsamic vinegars are found on nearly all grocery shelves. Many home cooks are exploring other options, such as fig or raspberry vinegar, both of which make excellent foils for poultry dishes.
Summer celebrants who love to feast off the barbeque can swap a few ingredients to turn sugar-laden, high-fat barbeque sauces into low-fat enhancements. Replacing sugar, a staple in many barbeque sauces, for orange juice, pulped mango, or other fruit is one way. Mustard, especially in combination with vinegar or fruit juice and minced fresh herbs, makes a barbeque marinade to rival less-healthy counterparts.
By making a few crafty switches, dessert lovers can bring sweet sauce calories counts down to earth. A healthy, creamy sauce that’s delicious on sherbet or fresh fruit can be made by pureeing peeled, frozen bananas with a splash of fat-free cream and a handful of berries or a spoonful of nut butter. Using sweet leaves from the stevia plant or processed stevia sugar substitute will drop calorie counts in puddings and sweetened fruit treats as well.
Commercially available, low calorie sauces are easy to find. Low-fat mayo, chocolate sauce, caramel, and other jarred or frozen toppings have saved many a dieter who is too busy to cook. These store-bought, low-calorie marinades, cooking sauces, and table-side condiments have been fine-tuned to deliver consistent flavor and quality.