Family meals are important around here. But they have to be delicious, healthy, low sodium, and “fried” is an added bonus. We’re healthy, but we’re southerners y’all. Fried foods are a way of life. How do I work around these issues? Secret’s in the sauce (and the seasonings) you use. Always make sauces from scratch. Don’t use salt (that evil beast is gonna kill you…swear it). And if you need to fry, just be sure to bake first, fry later. Let me explain.
For our fabulously non-traditional (my Italian grandma is turning in her grave but wishes she could have been here for dinner) Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan, Low Sodium, Southern Style Meal, as I said, the secret’s in the sauce so let’s start there. Although I do like “lazy” meals, I’m a homemade kind of girl. Marinara sauce is no joke. You should take this seriously.
This is not a quick fix sauce. It takes time, but it is oh-so-worth it. If you make a big enough pot, you can freeze it for pizza for another night. Just a little added bonus.
Low Sodium Marinara Sauce
What you’ll need:
~16 roma tomatoes
~2 tspn crushed fresh garlic
~2 tbsp Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil seasoning
~1 tbsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb seasoning
~2 tbsp sugar
~1 pepper of choice, diced
~1 small onion, diced
~2 tbsp Italian seasoning ~1 cup water ~2 tbsp flour
What you’ll do:
~Dice one of the roma tomatoes into little pieces and throw it in the crock pot.
~Puree the remaining 15 roma tomatoes in a food processor and toss them in the crock pock. ~Mix the flour into the water then pour that in.
~Add all of the other ingredients and cook on low for 4 hours (longer is better).
~If your sauce needs to thicken, add 1 tbsp of corn starch mixed with water to the crock pot about 15 minutes before serving.
Fried chicken. It’s a way of life in the south, but it doesn’t have to be unhealthy and can be a great add on to any meal.
I use chicken tenders because they’re easy to work with. Dredge them in a beaten egg. Mix some bread crumbs (seriously, crushed stale bread works the best) mixed with some Italian seasonings. Coat the chicken with that. Pour enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of a glass baking pan and put the breaded tenders in the oven at 400 for 15-20 minutes. They’ll be almost done when you take them out. Pull out a large skillet, put some olive oil in the bottom, heat it up, and drop in your almost cooked tenders. “Fry” for about 2 minutes on each side and your family will think you fried the chicken and love it! (PS Technically I realize that it’s still fried but the oil doesn’t sneak into the meat like it does if you fry it from it’s raw state.)
To make the meal even healthier, fry up some veggies. See above. I fooled them again. I baked the eggplant for 40 minutes, breaded, and then tossed it in the frying pan for about 5 minutes on each side for the browning effect. B isn’t huge into the veggie scene but when I asked him to try this, he said “I’ll eat anything fried…you know that”. Why yes, yes I do. And he loved it.
Throw in some noodles, and some bubbling cheese garlic Texas toast, and you have yourself a healthy meal your family will love.
Even Bubby chomped on this delicious dish (shush…I mixed eggplant in that spaghetti bowl and he had no clue). People, read above, secret’s in the sauce. They’ll eat anything if you present it the correct way. I want my family to eat healthy. I want them to BE healthy. But I want them to enjoy their meals.
I hope you try my “secret” sauce and I hope you and your family like it. If you do, please let me know. If you have your own healthy version of this family favorite, I’d love to hear about it!
Christy Gossett, managing editor of SoFabFood and creator of the healthy living blog, Insanity Is Not An Option, is a WAHM of 6 kids ranging in age from 27 to 8. She enjoys sharing her heart-healthy, low sodium recipes to help others with dietary restrictions enjoy a flavorful life while maintaining a healthy diet.
Hey y'all! I'm Christy and I'm glad you could stop by. Have a seat, grab a drink or a straight jacket, and join me as I share heart-healthy recipes, stories and life lessons about my insanely large family, and whatever else pops into my hot mess of a mind! Read More…