Six Sauces to Take Dinner to the Next Level
Dinnertime boredom - it can be frustrating.
Like most people, you probably have a set number of good ol’ standby recipes that you rotate through. You do your best to make them healthy, nutritious, and tasty. But sometimes, after serving them up for what feels like the 100th time, they start to lose their appeal.
Sure, there are thousands of new meal recipes online that you could tackle, but that takes time and effort, and they might not turn out as delicious as you hope.
May I suggest a new secret weapon for keeping things interesting? Sauces.
A Homemade Food Supercharger
Adding a new sauce can bring a whole new level of flavor to a dish - meats have more zing, veggies become a lot more appealing, and snacks get a savory or spicy boost that keeps things interesting.
A warning right up front, though: the majority of sauces that you can buy in the store are loaded with unhealthy ingredients - sugars, seed oils and other unhealthy fats, preservatives, artificial flavorings and colors, and other ingredients that you want to avoid if you’re trying to improve your health.
Fortunately, many sauces require just a few minutes and a handful of ingredients, and are well worth a try.
To get started on your sauce journey, check out these 6 delicious recipes - they can give your meals and snacks a healthy kick of flavor!
Six Scintillating Sauces
Vinaigrette (Secret Ingredient: Olive oil)
If you’re going to use oil in your meals, olive oil (along with avocado oil) is a great choice. Many seed oils and expeller-pressed oils (such as canola, sunflower, peanut, corn, and vegetable oils), when exposed to heat or light, produce unhealthy trans-fats and lipids that can increase cholesterol and cause inflammation in the body. Olive oil, on the other hand, is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can help to lower LDL cholesterol. It also boasts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Vinaigrettes have all sorts of uses. Yes, you can use them to top a salad, but you can also use them to marinate meats, to glaze vegetables before cooking, and as a dipping sauce. To get started on vinaigrettes, try this simple and zesty recipe for Lemon Vinaigrette from Love and Lemons.
Hummus (Secret Ingredient: Chickpeas)
If you are a fan of dips, you need to give hummus a good try! Thick, creamy, and spreadable, hummus can be a perfect dip for raw veggies and whole-grain crackers and breads. Chickpeas provide a punch of protein, which we can all use more of, fiber, folate, and iron - all things that we could probably use more of in our diets.
And if you have had hummus in the past and found it a little boring, this recipe should change your mind: Spicy Jalapeño Hummus from Tori Avey. Or, you can make a base recipe of hummus and add your own seasonings - chopped garlic and herbs, chili peppers and chopped nuts, kalamata olives and lemon zest… The possibilities are endless!
Curry Sauce (Secret Ingredient: Turmeric)
Health professionals have talked up the benefits of turmeric for decades, as study after study confirmed that the curcumin in turmeric acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory. This bright yellow (and bright-tasting) root also provides a good dose of antioxidants. Just keep in mind that turmeric, whether fresh or powdered, will easily stain clothing and some plastics, so handle it with care!
Give turmeric a try in this rich, flavorful Indian Curry Sauce from Glebe Kitchen. Mix in some cooked chicken (or other protein) and some sliced vegetables, simmer for a few minutes, and serve over rice for an easy dinner.
Chimichurri (Secret Ingredient: Parsley)
If you’ve never heard of chimichurri, you have missed out on one of the best things that ever happened to beef! This sauce from Argentina and Uruguay, made with a mix of herbs, lime, garlic, onion, vinegar, and spice, takes your steak to the next level. Trust me, once you taste this on a grilled steak, you’ll never be satisfied with bottled steak sauce again. Try this easy Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce recipe from The Spruce Eats and find out what all the fuss is about.
And if you only associate parsley with inedible garnishes at restaurants, you’re doing parsley an injustice! Parsley is a green superfood, chock full of magnesium, vitamin K, and antioxidants. Depending on the type of parsley you use, its flavor ranges from a light, almost mustard green taste to a full-bodied bitter herb with a clean aftertaste. Not just a garnish anymore, parsley deserves to be more of a feature on your plate.
Pesto (Secret Ingredient: Basil)
A kitchen garden staple, basil is easy to grow and even easier to love. It pairs deliciously with tomatoes and cheese, peaches and other stone fruits, chicken and fish, and many other dishes. Maybe some of its culinary magic stems from its healthy properties: basil is rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Basil pesto, which exploded in popularity in the US during the 1970s, has remained a classic sauce to enjoy with pasta, cheeses, vegetables, breads, and meats. Check out this easy and delicious Fresh Basil Pesto recipe from Love and Lemons, and see what all of the fuss is about.
Ketchup (Secret Ingredient: Tomatoes)
Chances are good that you have a bottle of ketchup in your fridge or pantry right now. It’s a standby in most American homes, ready to top french fries, hash browns, hot dogs, and hamburgers. Unfortunately, the vast majority of store-bought ketchups contain a large amount of processed sugar, something that we could all afford to reduce in our diets. And all of that sugar counteracts the wonderful qualities of ketchup’s main ingredient: tomatoes. Full of antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber, tomatoes offer a ton of flavor and richness to a good sauce.
So, what to do when you (or more likely, the kids) have a craving for ketchup? Make your own! The Sugar Free Diva has a great recipe for Sugar-Free Ketchup that is full of spices and flavor, and can be frozen for long-term use.
Just the Beginning
Healthy, homemade sauces provide a great initial stepping stone towards getting your fridge and cookbook more in line with your body’s needs. If you have wanted to start eating healthier, you might be overwhelmed with the wide range of conflicting advice on what is best for you.
Instead of just guessing at the right approach, why not let Illuminate Wellness help you? We offer a wide range of testing to determine what nutrients your body really needs, and what you should be cutting out of your diet. Get started today with a free consultation, and we will build you a personalized plan towards better health, tailored exactly to your body’s needs.