Toss The Sauce: Tips For Flavorful Foods With Fewer Calories!

Use these alternatives to normal, healthy sauces!

Flavorful Foods With Fewer Calories

Have you ever wondered how many calories you could save yourself just by cutting back on the sauce and other calorie-dense condiments? Even avoiding the light versions of some of the classics can make a huge difference. If you get rid of these flavor-enhancing options, does that mean you’re destined to eat bland food forever? Absolutely not! There are several ways to spice up and enhance flavor without adding on a ton of unnecessary calories!

Instead of the high-sugar, high-fat options like BBQ sauce, mayonnaise, and tartar sauce, try adding more flavor to your meals with natural ingredients. Try herbs instead; they can make just about any dish more flavorful! By ditching the sauces and high-calorie spreads, you can save yourself tons of calories and reach your health goals faster. Take a look at some of these examples of calorie-dense condiments:

Barbecue Sauce, Calories per serving (2 Tablespoons)

  • Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce – 70 calories
  • Bull’s-Eye Barbecue Sauce (Original) – 60 calories
  • Kraft Barbecue Sauce (Honey) – 50 calories
  • Hunts BBQ Sauce (Original BBQ Sauce) – 50 calories
  • Back Home BBQ Sauce – 45 calories

Mayonnaise, Calories per serving (1 Tablespoon) 

  • Kraft Hot ‘n Spicy Mayo 18 fl oz – 100 calories
  • Smart Balance Omega Plus (Light Mayonnaise Dressing) – 50 calories
  • Kraft Mayo (Light) – 50 calories
  • Hellmann’s Mayonnaise (Light) – 40 calories
  • Walmart Great Value Light Mayonnaise – 35 calories

Other High Calorie Spreads and Sauces, Calories per serving (2 Tablespoons)

  • Reese Horseradish Sauce – 130 calories
  • Ocean Spray Cranberry Sauce – 110 calories
  • Best Foods Tartar Sauce – 80 calories
  • Kraft Sweet ‘n Sour Sauce – 60 calories
  • French’s French Fried Real Onions – 45 calories

Now, keep in mind that many of us tend to overdo it on serving sizes for the condiments listed above. I know for a fact that I always end up using more than two tablespoons of BBQ sauce. I can’t be the only one, can I? Before we know it, that small, 70 calorie serving has turned into a few hundred!

So how do you add flavor to meals without expanding your waistline? 

Flavorful Foods with Fewer Calories

Make Your Own Condiments

First, consider making your condiments from scratch at home. Sure, it will require a little bit more effort than just buying it at the store, but at least then you will know exactly what’s in it! 

This simple, homemade Healthy Ketchup is a great place to start. We also have recipes for Plant-based Avocado Mayonnaise, SkinnyMs. Barbecue Sauce, and Homemade Ranch Dressing!

You can also look to using natural spices, oils, and herbs instead of making a sauce. Try coconut oil and a blend of your choice of herbs and spices to create a flavor that’s unique to your kitchen. If you still feel like you need more, try a low-calorie options like a light balsamic vinaigrette or mustard.

Herbs: Low-Calorie, Full Flavor

Be sure to add the following herbs to your grocery list: basil, parsley, rosemary, mint, dill, cilantro, and anything else you find wonderfully fragrant or interesting. Having fresh herbs and spices on hand is an excellent way to stay on the right track! Chop any of these herbs up and create combos that are pleasing to your taste buds.

You can also freeze chopped herbs with a few teaspoons of water in an ice tray. When you’re ready, toss the frozen blocks into stews, soups, or steam bags for veggies! Or bundle whole herbs and toss them right on the grill with lean meats for a barbecue with a fragrant flare.

Another idea that can help you avoid high-calorie beverages is create ice cubes with cucumber, lemon, and mint leaves. Add them to water for a refreshing drink later on!

Get Creative with Herb and Spice Blends

Bill Bradley is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in the Mediterranean Diet. When asked for any tips he had on adding low- to no-calorie flavor to a dish, this was what he had to say:

“All the countries of the Mediterranean have their own special herb and spice blends. These blends add flavor in a way that one single herb does not. For example, in Provence, France, the celebrated herbs de provence is used. It is a simple blend but adds tremendous flavor to otherwise bland chicken, fish or potatoes. It can be made in under 5 minutes and is wonderful for so many dishes.”

Mr. Bradley was kind enough to share how to make your own herbs de Provence. He said, 

“In a jar, add…. 2 Tablespoons dried savory, 2 Tablespoons dried oregano, 2 Tablespoons dried rosemary, 1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon dried basil.

These herbs are also packed with health benefits from helping with digestion to increasing memory. Adding this blend to oven-fried potatoes, baked chicken, or salmon makes it so you need to use fewer high calorie ingredients to flavor the food.”

Added Benefits of Replacing High-Calorie Options with Herbs

Registered Dietitian, Hannah Koschak, gave us some interesting insight into the added benefits of replacing calorie-dense condiments with herbs. She said:

“Not only do fresh herbs offer a lot of flavor, but the phytonutrients have disease preventative properties as well. Many people don’t think of parsley being a great vitamin C source, but it is.” 

Hannah even gave us a bonus tip: 

“Another suggestion would be to add pickled foods such as jalapenos, banana peppers, or pickled asparagus for a pop of flavor to add to your dish.”

By no means does eating a diet full of healthy and nutritious foods mean that you have to eat boring, flavorless meals. There are plenty of inexpensive and simple ways to spice up any meal!

After reading these tips for flavorful foods with fewer calories, are you ready to toss the sauce? Let us know! For more healthy eating tips and recipes, be sure to follow us on Pinterest!

This post may include affiliate links.


The SkinnyMs. team believes that all people, regardless of age, size, and fitness level, have the power to transform their lives — they just need the resources to do so. The SkinnyMs. method promotes healthy living through a combination of clean eating and regular exercise. We offer everything you need to be successful.

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  1. Stubs Barbeque Sauce (found at Whole Foods and much cheaper at Walmart) is only 30 calories per serving & 4g of sugar per serving.  Great for my hubby who is diabetic!

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