How to Choose the Best Pasta Sauce

pasta sauce, tomato sauce, pasta Pasta and sauce is a classic combination.  But what should you choose when looking at all the jars and cans on the grocery store shelves? Here are some tips to help you decide.

What to look for on the label

Choose a tomato-based (marinara) sauce rather than a creamy sauce to keep calories and fat under control. Learn to make your own pasta sauce to control the salt in your sauce.

If you’re looking for a jarred or canned pasta sauce, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Sodium: Read the Nutrition Facts Panel for a sauce with 360 mg or less of sodium per serving (a serving is ½ cup or 125 mL). You can also use the % Daily Value on the label to see if the sauce has a little or lot of sodium. Choose sauces with a 5% Daily Value or less. Fat: Look for 3 g or less in each serving. Watch the extras: Choose sauces that are plain or have vegetables like mushrooms, spinach or peppers. These are better choices than sauces with meat or cheese added to them. 

Tomatoes and lycopene

Tomatoes are the best source of the antioxidant lycopene. Studies have shown that eating lycopene may lower the risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene is best absorbed by the body when tomatoes are cooked rather than raw. Try cooked tomato products such as sauce, soup, paste, and juice. Choose low salt or sodium-reduced products when possible.

When choosing plain sauce

Plain tomato sauce is a good buy and you can flavour it any way that you want! Add any of chopped onions, garlic, carrots, celery, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli or kale. Then add some herbs and spices like basil, oregano, chili flakes, freshly ground black pepper or lemon zest.  

Five ways to use pasta sauce

Quick ratatouille 

Sauté chopped green peppers, zucchini, onion, eggplant and garlic in olive oil. Add two parts pasta sauce to one part water and some fresh basil. Simmer until vegetables are tender.

Pizza style baked potato

Make a slit in baked potatoes, then stuff with some pasta sauce, sautéed pepper and mushrooms, and shredded mozzarella. Bake at 400ºF until the cheese melts.

Baked beans with a twist

Simmer one cup pasta sauce with 1 tbsp honey mustard, 1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 can of white beans (rinsed and drained) until bubbly.

Pizza-style quesadilla 

Spread some pasta sauce on a tortilla. Top with grated mozzarella cheese, sliced mushrooms and shredded chicken. Fold in half and bake in the oven until golden.

Saucy curried chicken

Place 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (or 12 skinless, boneless thighs) in a deep baking dish. Add 2 cups of baby carrots or carrots sticks. Mix 2 tbsp curry powder with 2 cups pasta sauce. Pour sauce over chicken and carrots. Bake, covered with foil, in a 400ºF oven for 30 minutes. Bake uncovered for 30-35 more minutes.

Last Update – November 7, 2017

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