Homemade sauces serve up health and taste

Classic Pesto
Creamy Mac and Cheese

Getting your family together around a delicious, home-cooked meal is easier when your kitchen is stocked with better-for-you ingredients. For home cooks looking to delight taste buds and satisfy appetites – start with the sauce.

“Knowing how to prepare basic, simple sauces is an important culinary skill,” said registered dietitian Sarah-Jane Bedwell, author of “Schedule Me Skinny.” “While you probably can find store-bought versions, homemade sauces will taste better, cost less and be better for you, especially when made with high-quality ingredients like fresh herbs and canola oil.”

Whether your family prefers a rich white sauce or a fresh pesto, knowing how to create basic sauces allows you to whip up a dinner you’ll feel good about serving.

This kid- and adult-friendly Creamy Mac and Cheese is the ultimate in comfort dishes, featuring classic bechamel “white sauce” – one of five traditional French “mother sauces” that have spread to other cuisines. The use of heart-smart canola oil instead of butter to make the roux, however, significantly reduces the sauce’s saturated fat content.

Classic Pesto is another healthy recipe that will become a staple in your kitchen repertoire. With origins that trace back to Genoa, Italy, it’s perfect served alongside cooked whole wheat noodles, stuffed vegetables, soups, stews, salads or sandwiches. Canola oil provides a mild taste that lets the flavors of basil and garlic shine in this delicious uncooked sauce. Plus it stays free-flowing in the refrigerator due to the oil’s low saturated fat content.

Introduce basic sauces to your family meal routine and reap the palate-pleasing results. For these and other great recipes, visit www.canolainfo.org.

Classic Pesto


  • 1 cup sweet basil leaves, washed and dried completely
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. In food processor combine basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic and 2 tablespoons canola oil; blend. As blending continues, slowly add remaining oil so sauce emulsifies. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Label with date and keep refrigerated. Use within 1-2 days.
  3. Nutritional analysis per serving: 90 calories; 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat); 2 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 5 mg cholesterol; 115 mg sodium.

1 3/4 cups total (1 tablespoon per serving)

Creamy Mac and Cheese


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs


  1. In pot of boiling water, lightly salt water and add macaroni; cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. In saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat. Stir in enough flour to make roux. Add milk to roux slowly, stirring constantly. Stir in cheeses, garlic powder, paprika and dry mustard. Cook over low heat until cheese is melted and sauce has thickened. Pour sauce over macaroni, mix and add to large casserole dish.
  3. In skillet, add 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and brown. Spread over macaroni and cheese. Bake at 350ºF about 30 minutes. Serve.

8 servings (1 cup each)

Calories: 90g Total Fat: 9g
Cholesterol: 5mg Protein: 2g
Carbohydrates: 1g Sodium: 115mg



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