When my kids were growing up, I made the best darn spaghetti sauce in town.
Studded with garlic and onions, redolent of basil, oregano and thyme, warmed by cayenne, and laced with anise seed, it was a far cry from my mother's red tomato sauce with salt and pepper.
And a lot more work.
So with an empty nest and a busy career, I made the switch -- and began indulging in the higher-cost but more time-effective varieties beginning to crowd my grocer's shelves.
I was delighted to find a quick avenue to my favorite non-fat entree.
Then I got hold of some nutritional information that took me by surprise. Lacking Italian ancestry, I had no idea that most spaghetti sauce contains olive or other vegetable oil.
Following is some information on a few types of sauce that currently provide label information. Some of the newest offerings are nearly fat-free and low in sodium, but you really need to pay attention. (Paul Newman, Frank Sinatra and Classico are still hiding out, but their ingredients lists contain olive oil, without disclosing how much.)
Information is given for 1/2 -cup portions. How much do you use?
Prego. Extra Chunky Mushroom: 100 calories, 4 grams (g.) fat, 410 milligrams (mg.) sodium. Extra Chunky Sausage & Green Pepper: 160 calories, 8 g. fat, 510 mg. sodium. Three Cheese: 100 calories, 2 g. fat, 410 mg. sodium.
Ragu: Thick & Hearty: 110 calories, 5 g. fat, 460 mg. sodium. Home Style: 110 calories, 5 g. fat, 510 mg. sodium. Today's Choice (three flavors): 50 calories, 1 g. fat, 380 mg. sodium.
Hunts: all flavors: 50 calories, 2 g. fat, 550 mg. sodium.
Francesco Rinaldi: 70 calories, 3 g. fat, 640 mg. sodium.
Healthy Choice: (four flavors) 40 calories, less than 1 g. fat, 380 mg. sodium.
Remember to count the add-ons:
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese: 70 calories, 3 g. fat, 180 mg. sodium.
1 tablespoon butter for garlic bread: 108 calories, 12 g. fat, 123 mg. sodium.
1 tablespoon Italian salad dressing: 140 calories, 14 g. fat, 232 mg. sodium.
1 ounce meatballs: 80 calories, 6 g. fat, 150 mg. sodium.
Spaghetti itself is a non-fat, high-carbohydrate base that can become a high-fat pig out.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore.