The Secret to Healthier Cream Sauces

Building in Flavor
In their most basic state, cream sauces can be rich but bland. In the healthy kitchen, we can change that by packing in the vegetables. Fresh or dried mushrooms are a great choice, but so are roasted peppers, roasted butternut squash, carrots, and caramelized onions.

Herbs, tomato puree, horseradish, and even mustard can help build flavor and thicken the sauce.  In summer, I chop up parsley, thyme, and basil, then freeze in ice cube trays. Later I add a cube or two to sauces for a burst of freshness.

Healthy Swaps for Thickeners
Most sauces are thickened with flour or starch of some sort using one of two methods: a roux or a slurry. Rouxs are equal parts of fat (oil, pan drippings, or butter) and flour that are cooked together before adding the liquid. Slurries are a cool mixture of water and flour or starch that are shaken or stirred together then added to sauce that’s already partially cooked. Rouxs are often used to start sauces; slurries are used to thicken sauces or pan juices

Even the traditional roux can be tweaked to make it lighter. The easiest swap is to use whole wheat flour in place of white or all-purpose flour. Traditionally you would use equal parts of fat, usually butter, and flour, the higher-gluten whole-wheat flour requires a bit more liquid so you’ll need to experiment.

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