If you must buy pre-made tomato sauce, go low-salt

As an Italian-American, I consider it my duty to make my own tomato sauce (we call it gravy) for the various macaroni dishes I create. But if you’re one of those people who buys pre-made sauce, please, please read the nutrition label before you buy. Most sauces are loaded with salt.

Trader Joe's organic low-salt marinara sauce was a bit peppery for my taste but will do in a pinch.
Trader Joe’s organic low-salt marinara sauce is no longer being sold, a pandemic food casuality.

A recent taste test on Myrecipes.com reminded me how much salt is crammed into the jarred sauce. The winner of this taste test was Mezzetta’s Napa Valley Homemade Spicy Marinara, Looking up nutrition info for it, I found half a cup has 520 mgs of sodium. That compares to 140 mgs for the taste test low-sodium favorite, Engine 2, plant-strong, classic tomato basil pasta sauce.

My favorite low-sodium marinara sauce had been Trader’s Joe’s salt-free version but it was among many low-salt products that have disappeared from store shelves during the pandemic.

I plan to look for this Engine No. 2 variety (the site I found its nutrition info on says it’s sold at Whole Foods) to give it my own taste test.

A different option for low-salt, canned tomatoes

I’m a big fan of making my own tomato sauce (we called it gravy in my Italian-American family) to have with whole wheat pasta. Almost any prepared sauce from a store, be it jarred or canned, will be loaded with salt.

Something new to me, extra heavy tomatoes.
Something new to me, extra heavy tomatoes.

Look for the low-salt canned tomatoes when making your own, though, usually any San Marzano tomato will be lower in salt than no-name varieties, as I’ve written before. That said, I was surprised to find a new variation on canned tomatoes at our local Valli Produce.

As you can see, the can calls them “Extra Heavy Crushed Tomatoes.” I thought that was just marketing hype until I opened them. They were really thick, more like a tomato paste than crushed tomatoes. Continue reading “A different option for low-salt, canned tomatoes”

Merry Christmas! Here’s some low-salt, low-sugar dinner recipes

The wonderful smell of tomato sauce cooking on the stove is wafting through my house as I write this post. What better special treat to make for Christmas Day than an Italian pasta dish with whole wheat or multi-grain pasta and low- or no-fat cheese?

Baked mostaccoli, or do you call them ziti?
Baked mostaccoli, or do you call them ziti?

For a side dish, make turkey meatballs from extra lean or lean ground turkey, depending on your preference. My 12 Days of no sugar, no salt, no fat Christmas recipes includes two choices for Christmas day, mini-manicotta with low-fat ricotta cheese in them, or baked mostaccoli using the same low-fat cheese.

Either will wow your family and friends, and in my opinion can be one of the few meals you make that will truly fill you up. So enjoy, and check my other recipe for this holiday season.

Merry Christmas to all my readers, thank you for stopping by!

Chicken Parmesan: a low-fat, low-salt alternative recipe

Chicken Parmesan is a classic Italian-American dish, served in many an old-school Italian restaurants and once a favorite of mine. But the traditional way of preparing it, breading a chicken breast and smothering it with cheese, is out for me since my angioplasty and my new low-salt, low-fat, low-sugar diet.

So I’ve come up with my own modified version, which I alluded to in a recent post about Trader Joe’s no-salt added marinara sauce. Here’s a step-by-step guide to make this dish. Continue reading “Chicken Parmesan: a low-fat, low-salt alternative recipe”

Dropped during the Pandemic —Trader Joe’s salt-free marinara sauce: worth a try

Note: This product has been dropped by Trader Joe’s during the Pandemic. This post was written long before Covid hit us. #ShameonTraderJoes

I wrote last year about finding a low-salt pre-made tomato sauce for the days when I don’t have any of my home-made version frozen and ready to use or don’t have the time to make some from scratch. I’ve bought Muir Glen and also found some house brand salt-free sauce at my local Jewel. Recently, though, I saw another choice at Trader Joe’s, its private label marinara sauce with no salt added.

Trader Joe's organic low-salt marinara sauce was a bit peppery for my taste but will do in a pinch.
Trader Joe’s organic low-salt marinara sauce was a bit peppery for my taste but will do in a pinch.

The taste was a bit peppery to me when I first tried it. Like many ingredient offerings that go low-salt, the makers here may have thought pepper was a good substitute. I generally just want to taste the tomatoes though. The pepper taste was still there after cooking. If you’re a pepper fan, you should enjoy it. For me it was just ok. Continue reading “Dropped during the Pandemic —Trader Joe’s salt-free marinara sauce: worth a try”

Can You Find Pre-made Low-Salt Tomato Sauce?

Tomato sauce (or gravy as my Italian-American family called it) is one of the few sauces I can still eat since my angioplasty and being put on a no-salt, no-sugar, no-fat diet.

But making sauce from canned tomatoes can create a product with way too much salt, depending on the tomato brand and variety you buy.

Always check for salt in any canned tomato product you buy.
Always check for salt in any canned tomato product you buy.

But who has hours to spend making tomato sauce more than on a rare occasion? So I’ve also been searching for prepared tomato sauce with little or no salt. Standard brands in mainstream supermarkets have tons of salt in them. But I found this Muir Glen product that fits my needs in a pinch.

You can see on its nutrition label that it has only 10 mgs per serving or 70 mgs for the entire can. The can is enough for a meal for two, or two servings, in my estimation, not the seven servings the can indicates. But even then, half a can and 35 mgs or salt is several hundred mgs less than any mainstream brand. The sauce itself was a bit watery for my taste, but it worked well to use it for baking chicken in tomato sauce and giving some flavor to otherwise dry chicken breasts.

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