farmers market

Sauces and Dressings


Does a healthy lifestyle condemn me to bland, uninteresting meals and salads with no dressing?  Is there room for sauces in my world of health?  Both of these traditional condiments are easy targets when we are first starting to eliminate calories.  But consider how small choices can improve our dining experience and support our healthy lifestyle.

  • 8oz Chicken Fried Steak traditional fried recipe:
    656 calories, 210mg cholesterol, 880mg sodium
     
  • ¼ cup Cream Gravy made with whole milk:
    40 calories, 20mg cholesterol, 320mg sodium
  • 4oz Chicken Fried Steak (lightly battered, pan seared in olive oil and finished in the oven) with 2 tablespoons Cream Gravy made with skim milk & a pinch of salt:
    317 calories, 91mg cholesterol, 137mg sodium

Note how when we shrink the meat portion we greatly reduce the calorie, cholesterol and sodium content.  Now we have room for two vegetables on the plate plus a serving of gravy as well.  When we make this kind of choice, we are increasing the variety and interest of the plate while at the same time improving the nutritional value.  Try this Italian example.

  • ⅓ cup traditional Alfredo Sauce:
    329 calories, 107mg cholesterol, 417mg sodium
     
  • ⅓ cup Alfredo Sauce made with egg yoke, fat free half & half and a pinch of salt:
    82 calories, 45mg cholesterol, 232mg sodium

It doesn’t matter what pasta you choose, when you can create a delicious sauce like this that makes such a dramatic difference in calories and cholesterol, eating healthy takes on a whole new meaning.  Add a glass of red Chianti to pair well with this occasion and to add health promoting anti-oxidants.  Are we living the good life yet?

  • 2 cups Mixed Salad:
    20 calories, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium 
     
  • ¼ cup Ranch Dressing:
    292 calories, 20mg cholesterol, 488mg sodium
     
  • Same 2 cups Salad:                  
    20 calories, 0mg cholesterol, 50mg sodium 
     
  • 2 tablespoons Ranch Dressing:
    146 calories, 10mg cholesterol, 244mg sodium
     
  • or 2 tablespoons homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette using olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh herbs and a pinch of salt:
    124 calories, 0mg cholesterol, 14mg sodium

When we learn to appreciate a salad with less dressing, it opens our dining experience to a whole range of flavors and textures.  A salad drenched in dressing reduces the crunch and overpowers the delicate flavors of the vegetables.  The fresh made vinaigrette packs a powerful flavor punch and note the difference in sodium.  Making small informed choices like these can over time change how we appreciate dining and can pay long term health benefits as well.  

Tim Scallon is a registered dietitian and Director of Clinical Nutrition and the HC Polk Education Center at Memorial Health System in Lufkin.  The Polk Center provides individual and group education on diabetes, weight loss and heart disease; monthly classes on healthy cooking; and monthly support groups in Lufkin and Livingston.  In cooperation with Sodexo Food Service and the City of Lufkin, the Polk Center produces the nationally viewed TV series Memorial Cooking Innovations where dietitian Tim Scallon teams up with Chef Manuel Marini to demonstrate that healthy eating can taste great.  The show can be seen on cable in 46 cities and at http://www.memorialhealth.org. Send comments to [email protected].

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