The key to ready-made meals throughout the week is to have a go-to condiment or sauce that transforms any dish into something delicious within seconds. And that is why many registered dietitians have certain pantry or fridge staples they keep around for a boost of flavor. An anti-inflammatory tomato sauce is a great time-saver as you can meal prep a big batch of it at once to stash away for a variety of dishes.
Beyond taste, this special sauce should also be nutritious. “Tomato sauce is a great source of vitamin C and the potassium and vitamin B can help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure,” says Ilyse Schapiro MS, RD, CDN, who has an easy tomato sauce that she puts on anything and everything.
Goes-With-Everything anti-inflammatory tomato sauce recipe
1 onion chopped
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 12 oz. or 15 oz. can of chopped tomato (or tomato puree for a thicker sauce)
1 tsp each of dried basil and oregano
1 clove of garlic minced
1. In a medium saute pan brown onion in olive oil.
2. Add chopped tomatoes.
3. Add dried basil and dried oregano.
4. Add minced garlic.
5. Cover sauce and keep on low flame to reduce for 20-30 minutes.
This sauce is delicious and simple. There are aromatic elements from the herbs and a nice acidic punch from the tomato and onion, plus it’s light in texture. The recipe has minimal ingredients and requires very little preparation, too.
“It pairs great with chicken, pasta, fish, vegetables and so much more and it can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days and in the freezer for 4-6 months,” she says. “I always have a batch ready to go in the freezer for an easy weeknight meal.”
A dietitian’s guide to eating for inflammation:
How use an anti-inflammatory tomato sauce
1. Hearty meat sauce with pasta
If you’re looking for a meat sauce or want to bump up the protein, add some ground chicken, turkey, or beef to the recipe for something more substantial. You can enjoy the meat sauce as is or over a bed of greens, cauliflower rice, quinoa, or even a tortilla wrap.
It can also be a nice protein topper for whole grain pasta. Lean turkey meat would be a nice option to protein and less saturated fat, which is better for those who are concerned with heart health. Although you can go with ground beef for some protein and to truly satisfy that craving for beef (or red meat based) meat sauce, if you prefer, and use it in a variety of healthy ground beef recipes.
2. Zoodles with shrimp
Use 1/2 cup tomato sauce with 3-4oz shrimp for a zoodles recipe that is super easy (and fun) to make for the whole family. “They’re a great substitute for pasta since they take the flavor of the sauce and shrimp,” she says. For a faster prep time, you can buy zoodles frozen or get a spiralizer and make them from fresh zucchini. These help reduce carb count and bulk up fiber!
3. “Ratatouille” roasted vegetables
Add bright veggies to this delicious, smooth tomato sauce. Think: eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, peppers, and more non-starchy veggies that have lots of antioxidant power to promote heart and skin health, as well as fiber to boost satiety.
With 1 cup of tomato sauce and 1/4 cup brown rice, and veggies galore (as much as you like!), this dish is a great source of fiber and whole grains for sustainable energy. “This is super easy to make in bulk and have for leftovers and you can also freeze the leftover roasted veggies it and repurpose them for another day,” she says.
4. Chicken Parmesan
Use about 3-4 oz. chicken breast, 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/4 cup low fat mozzarella cheese and bake in the oven at 350 for 30-45 minutes (depending on thickness).
This is a great recipe that’ll feel sentimental, as it’s like your classic chicken Parmesan you’d order in from a local restaurant, but this recipe is baked instead of fried, so it’s way healthier. It’s also super easy to make extra and eat for leftovers.
You can also just use the sauce as a dunking sauce or dip for chicken nuggets or a chicken sandwich, as well–the moistness from the sauce will add some good flavor and texture to keep the meat juicy and soft. Make healthy, crispy chicken nuggets in an air fryer to cut back on fat and calories, then dunk them in the fresh sauce.
5. Condiment or dip for sandwiches
Use the sauce as a condiment for sandwiches, like roasted turkey or a veggie and provolone, for example. You can also heat up a baguette and dunk it in the cool tomato sauce–the warm bread and that toasty feeling will taste amazing and complement that bit of fresh, clean and aromatic tomato sauce for its light taste and texture. It gives your sandwich some extra antioxidants and flavor.
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