Sauces and dressings are the finishing touches that can take your meal from bland to flavorful. Without dressing, your salad is just a bowl of leaves and your Thai chicken is just chicken. Sauces can bring a flavor contrast to make your taste buds salivate. Take a look at some of our best dish-transforming recipes below! (More info on sauces below.)
Making your own sauce is generally quick and easy. Often, it is a variety of ingredients that go into a bowl to get whisked up or go into a blender for complete emulsification. This is true of sauces like tahini, many salad dressings, and green goddess dressing. Some sauces, like pasta sauce or balsamic reduction, are cooked. But, ounce for ounce, dressings and sauces give you a really good “yumminess” return for a fairly minimal amount of time and effort. They often last for at least a few days in the fridge too, so you could make a larger amount and use them on a few different dishes throughout the week!
However, life happens and we find that it is nice to have a few bottled dressings and/or sauces on hand for meals when you just cannot make another “thing”… or everybody is hangry and dinner is not on the table yet! We realize that this is something that a food writer is never supposed to admit, but we’re keeping it real with you. Ashley is a Mom, she works, her kids have a bunch of activities, and Jamie is juggling a few jobs while planning to start a family one day, so we love shortcuts that allow us to maintain our focus on healthy eating while making life a tad bit more manageable. Maybe you can relate?
What to look out for
If you are going to buy sauces or dressings, make sure that you read your label carefully. Here are a few things to watch for:
- No sugar or not very much sugar. Sugar can have several different names, including dextrose, glucose, corn syrup, beet sugar, corn syrup solids, the list is so long! Check out some other names for sugar here Look at the label to see how many grams of added sugar there are.
- Higher quality oils. Extra virgin olive oil is the predominant fat source of the Mediterranean Diet.
- Lower sodium. For some readers, sodium is not a concern. For others, it is extremely important to watch your sodium intake. Know your particular situation and read your labels.
Many brands fit this list, based on what you are buying! Here are a few we love (but by no means an exhaustive list): Tessemae’s, The New Primal, Primal Kitchen, and many bottles of Annie’s. If you want to read more about salad dressings, check out our page on Soups and Salads.
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