This Easy, No-Sugar-Added Marinara Sauce Will Make Every Pasta Night Healthy *and* Delicious

Photo: Stocksy/Ina Peters

A good marinara sauce is a lot like a steaming hot bubble bath, because... you want to literally bathe in it. Yet while the tomato-, garlic-, and basil-based concoction should contain simple ingredients, store-bought jars often pack hidden sugars which, when consumed in excess, are associated with a whole host of health issues. (Cue sad trombone.)

That's why Michele Promaulayko, editorial-director-at-large for The Well and author of the new book Sugar Free 3 (with a companion video series on OpenFit) designed her own no-added-sugar marinara sauce recipe that definitely deserves a spot in your weeknight dinner lineup.

Sugar Free 3 book cover
Photo: Courtesy of author

"Sauces, salad dressings, and other savory condiments are common hiding spots for added sugars. And it's all too easy to pour them on without realizing how much they jack up the amount of sugar they add to your plate," says Promaulayko. While there's definitely room in a healthy diet for sugar (dietitians recommend eating no more than 25 grams of the added variety per day), consuming too much can create a domino effect in your body. "[Added sugars] degrade the health of your microbiome, which impacts so many systems in our body," says Promaulayko. It can also cause inflammation and negatively affect your sleep and energy levels.

When you whip something up at home, you get full transparency about what goes into it. No, not everyone can make every meal from scratch on a daily basis, but Promaulayko's marinara sauce (recipe shared below) is so simple that it hardly feels like cooking. Whip it up in a batch on Sunday, then use it on meatballs, your favorite alt-pasta or a serving of TJ's cauliflower gnocchi, or even on roasted vegetables. The sky's the limit.

Promaulayko's SF3 Marinara Sauce Recipe

Yields 4 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tbsp kosher salt, divided
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
2 tsp minced garlic
1 35-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1 tsp no-salt Italian seasoning

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat.

2. Add onions to pot and sprinkle with one teaspoon of salt.

3. Cook, stirring often, until golden and softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Add chili flakes and garlic and cook for one minute.

5. Add tomatoes, basil, Italian seasoning, and remaining two teaspoons of salt to pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring often, and cook for an additional 10 minutes for flavors to meld.

How to eat pasta every day, according to a dietitian: 

Recipe reprinted with permission of the author. 

If you haven't swapped spaghetti squash for real spaghetti yet, we think you'll love it.  And, oh, here's how to season your pasta water without salt

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