In the last few months I have been hearing more and more about sugar, particularly the negative effects it has on body and mind. I have become more conscious of my sugar intake, especially the hidden sugars that lurk in most convenience foods, and thinking of ways to reduce it. Wouldn't it be great, I thought, to develop some sugar-free versions of some of my family's favourite condiments, starting with that oh-so-delicious but oh-so-sugary tomato sauce. I started working on a recipe, but then life just got crazy busy and my poor little recipe slowly slipped down the to do list and was forgotten for a few weeks.
Then two weeks ago I was invited by Food24 to attend a pre-release screening of That Sugar Film. I would urge everyone, especially parents to see this movie! From a nutritional perspective I find it so interesting how dietary guidelines are changing, with less of a focus on calorie counting and more attention on where those calories are coming from. As a parent I found the movie rather terrifying. Needless to say, seeing the film motivated me to get this recipe finished!
Onto the recipe. If you are looking for a carbon copy of your favourite tomato sauce brand then I must warn you that this does not taste exactly the same. I have avoided using any sugar or sweeteners so naturally it has a different flavour. Different in a good way (I hope you will agree) that allows you to enjoy the tomato and spice flavours without all that sweetness. My husband pointed out that the texture reminded him of the old school tomato sauce we enjoyed as kids - the one in the huge glass bottle, you may remember it too? What amazes me is how quickly my taste buds adapted have to this sugar-free version, and how when I compare it to a store bought brand the commercial version is frighteningly sweet and hard to stomach.
Now I know what you are probably thinking. Who on this sugar-loving earth has the time to make their own tomato sauce? Well what if I told you that this recipe takes only 5 minutes to make. Including the time it takes to walk to the cupboard to retrieve the ingredients. Aaaand what if I also told you that this sauce freezes beautifully so you can freeze little portions for whenever you need them. Easy peasy - although it is so quick you really can just throw together a fresh batch on the spot.
I tested several different versions of this recipe, adjusting the spice levels and trying different kinds of vinegars. This was my favourite and scored very highly on the all important cheese toasty test, but feel free to tweak the ingredients to taste. As a variation you could replace the cinnamon with a pinch of cumin for a delicious salsa type flavour.
I am not about to ban all things sugary from my household forever, but any small change to reduce overall daily intake is a good thing I think, and of course balance and moderation when it comes to treats! What are your thoughts on the sugar debate?
HOMEMADE TOMATO SAUCE
100g tomato paste
20ml white vinegar
1/4 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp or a large pinch of ground cinnamon (to taste)
Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well until combined and smooth. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.