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Feeling overwhelmed in the sauces aisle?  In every home there is a jar of sauce or can tomatoes. Do you know what’s in that sauce? Well you need a little lesson in label reading. This is a subject worth talking about for we have the sodium and sugar content to deal with. An old world sauce consisted of tomatoes, basil and olive oil.

If you have hypertension than you must truly watch the sodium levels. A low sodium  diet of 2000 milligrams mg of salt  or (2 gram sodium diet) gets used up pretty quickly on  1/2 cup of tomato sauce yielding 500 gms of sodium, or more.   The next step involves is to see how much sugar is in the sauce. This is called  ” the bliss factor” a term used by a biochemist  Dr. Michael Moss in his  interesting NY Times article “The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food“.  He speaks of the level of sugar in all our foods, including chips and tomato sauce.

The tallies are in and here are our top 3 picks for crushed tomatoes! Pomi,  Muir Glen and Cento diced or crushed tomatoes.

Pomi has a great fresh taste, is the box on the shelf that you wonder about. It is aseptic packaged and needs minimal heating to have a truly great tasting sauce  over pasta with very low sodium content (20 mg)   per 1/2 cup with no added sugar.  Muir Glen is also  wonderful fresh tasting and low sodium (20 mg) per serving. Cento has great  tomato flavor especially with San Marzano tomatoes at 20 mg of sodium per serving as well.  There isn’t any added dietary sugar in these canned tomatoes and make excellent healthy sauces for diabetic and low sodium diets.

2014-02-25_14-30-24_60The winner in the prepared  jar tomato sauce category for flavor and a moderate amount of sodium, (due to the sausage)  is Classico Italian Sausage and Peppers. Rich, and flavorful, holds up to hefty dishes like  ravioli or baked ziti with 5  grams of sugar per serving. They got this product right. For non meat eaters, Classico Tomato Basil  is a great basic coming in at 400 mg of sodium per serving with 5 gms of sugar. Remember! 1 teaspoon of sugar =4 grams of sugar. These sauces are coming in at a lower amount of sugar than other brands.

Baked Baby Eggplant


Now lets start cooking.

Want an easy hors d’oeuvre or snack? Try these little eggplant with some tomato sauce. When baked they develop a great crunchy cheese gratin that contrasts to the roasted eggplant inside.

Baked Baby Eggplant

  • 10 baby eggplant halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2  cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 1/4 cup shredded basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of tomato  sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place halved baby eggplant on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon tomato sauce over each eggplant. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and oregano and return to oven for an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Chop fresh basil and cover each eggplant with a few shredded basil leaves.


I made a chicken parmesan the other night which will be in my upcoming book A Connecticut Kitchen,  with all the pantry ingredients needed.  This is a no – cook no fuss tomato sauce.  A Hint: I like adding a bit of lemon zest and oregano to my breadcrumbs for a greater depth of flavor to my chicken breasts.


  • 1 cup of canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves chopped
  • 4 chopped green olives with pimento
  • 1 teaspoon of capers
  • pinch of  crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder or one clove of garlic mashed
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Saute the garlic in the olive oil until slightly golden, Add all the rest of the ingredients together and slightly heat on the stove for one minute at low heat. Take off the heat and  serve with pasta, chicken or anything that loves a good tomato sauce.

Chicken Parmesan

  • 2 whole chicken breasts halved  and pounded thin
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 5-6 basil leaves
  • lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of oregano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Dredge chicken in breadcrumbs  with salt and pepper, a pinch of lemon zest and oregano and place in a shallow baking dish  coated with a little olive oil. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and remove from oven. Spoon tomato sauce over the breasts and scatter  parmesan cheese over the top. Cover with fresh mozzarella and bake for an additional 15 minutes. or until  the cheese is melted. Chop fresh basil and scatter over the baked chicken breasts.