Saturday, February 12, 2011

Grocery Store Spaghetti Sauce Update

It had been a while since I last spent 20 minutes checking out all the various canned spaghetti sauces available at my local grocery stores. If you're watching your sodium intake, you know what I'm talking about. Carefully picking up a jar, hoping you don't iinadvertently jostle a neighboring jar and set off a chain reaction of falling & broken glass. Then turning the jar around until you can examine the nutritional information. Squinting so you can read the small print. And finally letting your brain absorb the information. Then, starting the whole procedure all over again -- for 15 more jars.


2016 UPDATE: Unfortunately both of the products described in this post are no longer available. That's the bad news. The good news is that Rinaldi now offer a No Salt Added version of its original recipe sauce. Only 40 mg sodium per 1/2 cup. Look for it in your local supermarket.

But a couple of weeks ago, I decided to look once again at the jarred spaghetti sauce offerings. I was pleasantly surprised. I found two products that would work well with a low sodium diet. Rinaldi To Be Healthy Garden Vegetable sauce is 290 mgs. of sodium per 1/2 cup. Now, that may seem high to you, but if you've ever checked most of the jarred pasta sauces in your supermarket, you'll know it's actually quite low. The other "To Be Healthy" sauces range from 310 - 330 mgs. per 1/2 cup. The other surprising product was Prego Heart Smart Traditional sauce. All the Prego "Heart Smart" sauces have 360 mgs. of sodium per half cup. Again, it sounds like a lot until you compare it to regular jarred sauces.

One way to lower the sodium content of any jarred sauce is to combine it with a can of salt free tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. I do that sometimes and then add some frozen basil from the summer's bounty.

Last night I used the Rinaldi sauce to make a low sodium version of eggplant Parmesan and spaghetti. I peeled alternate strips off the eggplant, cut it thinly, dipped in an egg wash, and dredged it in flour. Then I baked it on a jelly roll pan that had been lined with no-stick aluminum foil and brushed with olive oil. I sprayed the tops with Pam and stuck the slices into a 450 degree oven. After 15 minutes, I flipped the slices and baked for another 15 minutes.

In a casserole dish, I alternated the eggplant with the sauce and put a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese only on top. The eggplant was not swimming in sauce, just a spoonful on top of each slice. Then I popped everything in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

I combined the remaining sauce with some olive oil and tossed it with the hot spaghetti. It was a good meal, and tonight we'll finished the eggplant leftovers. All in all, I was very pleased with the product.


Voce said...

These aren't available in the regular grocery store, but might be helpful anyway: I use Enrico's Pasta Sauce Fat Free Traditional No Salt Added: 35 mb. per 1/2 cup. I buy it at the health food stores. Just bought World Market All Natural Artichoke Pasta sauce to try. It has 200 mg per 1/2 cup.

shambo said...

Voce, thanks for the info. I'll look for the Enrico's at our local health food store. I'm a big fan of World Market products, but usually spend time in the spices section. I'll have to look for that artichoke sauce. It sounds yummy! Trader Joe's also has a salt-free marinara that I keep on hand. It's good to have same ready-to-go options in your pantry for those days when cooking from scratch just isn't feasible.

Thanks again!

Derek said...

I have recently used both of those sauces. Each is good. Here in the south, our chain, Publix, makes a premium store brand that has about 320 mg sodium per 1/2 cup. It is also cheaper than the Prego or the Rinaldi, but the Francesco Rinaldi smaller bottle is pretty cheap for the size.

Again, thanks for the great blog.

shambo said...

Derek, you make a very good point: Always check the store brand products. You may be pleasantly surprised. The other day I checked my favorite local grocery chain's pasta sauces. They have a store brand organic portabella mushroom sauce that has 330 mgs. sodium per 1/2 cup serving. It doesn't have any weird ingredients and, as you mentioned, because it's a store brand, it's also cheaper.

Thanks for your comments.

moksenho said...

I don't buy store bought tomato sauce any more. Here is my recipe:

chopped garlic (3-5 cloves)
chopped onions (1 large onion)
dried basil (amount as desired)
dried oregano (amount as desired)
1 large can of salt free tomato puree.

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil.

add the rest of the ingredents and cook for about 1/2 hour.
Voila, salt free tomato sauce.

Note that other spices can be added to suit your taste. This is a very basic recipe.

Shannon said...

Hi there, first let me say " Thank you for all your time and effort in sharing this valuable information". I eat low sodium for every meal and lately have been struggling with seasoning ideas. I have a very important question for there a way I can make a version of Soy Sauce w/o any sodium or at least very low? I currently sneak Kikkomen low sodium soy sauce, but I am hoping you can help me come up with something because I love Sushi and Rice.. but soy is a big staple for me. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your wonderful blog.

shambo said...

Shannon, thanks for your kind comments. Regarding soy sauce, you might enjoy reading one of my older posts entitled, "Soy Sauce Studies." I've tried a lot of lower sodium soy sauces and found The House of Tsang version that I can order from to be one of the lowest. It's got 320 mgs. sodium per 1 tablespoon serving size.

One way to lower that even more is to dilute it a bit with water (or unsalted chicken or beef broth). You can make an Asian style dipping sauce by adding a splash of unseasoned rice vinegar, a couple drops of toasted sesame oil, some hot chili flakes or a drop of hot chili oil (or wasabi powder), and some finely chopped green onions and/or some crushed garlic. This kind of a dipping sauce goes well with anything Asian inspired yet is not overly packed with sodium. Because of the vinegar & oil, the sauce keeps for a while in the fridge too.

Dick Logue has a soy sauce substitute recipe that includes beef broth and just a bit of low sodium soy sauce. I've made it before. I didn't particularly like the flavor, but you might. Also it doesn't last very long in the fridge. So I find it easier to just use the House of Tsang and make up smaller portions of the Asian dipping sauce I described above.

Shannon said...

Thank you so much! I may have to order that one...I actually like soy diluted with vinegar and fresh garlic cloves mixed in. You have to let it sit for about an hour, but it is my favorite sauce to dip spring rolls in. Thanks again.

shambo said...

Good luck! It's an adventure, to be sure. Don't be afraid to buy new products at the grocery store or online. You'll end up with some that do not suit your tastes at all, but every once in a while, you'll come across a real winner. When that happens, all that experimenting and expense will be worth it!

thedailydish said...

PS: For Shannon's question about soy sauce -- I've used Dick Logue's version before and altered it a bit myself -- I call it "Faux Soy Sauce" (which always makes me laugh)

I have also used Bragg Liquid Aminos, which has 160 mg sodium per 1/2 t. Not low, but it has really good flavor and is all natural.

JazL said...

I can't believe I didn't think to combine it with a can of salt free tomato sauce. Brilliant. I will be doing that this weekend.

shambo said...

JazL, the no-salt tomato sauce trick comes in really handy when you're pressed for time. It allows you to keep a stockpile of relatively lower sodium jarred spaghetti sauce and salt-free tomato sauce cans on hand for impromptu meals. As I've said many times before, sometimes you need a break, and that's when convenience products are helpful.