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Healthy Sauces Loaded with Flavor, Not Calories

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    "This crowd-pleasing Tex-Mex staple provides rich flavors of tomato, garlic, onion, and jalapeños," Thole says. A key component of those hot peppers, capsaicin, has been proven to protect blood vessels from inflammation, as well as make you less likely to chow down on fatty foods later, according to a report published in the journal Open Heart. Prefer green over red? The salsa variety made from green tomatillos offers ample amounts of vitamin K, potassium, vitamin C, and calcium.

    Try it: Scoop on top of eggs, tacos, chicken, rice and bean dishes, or even burgers and salads.

    Start here: Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Tomato and Avocado Salsa

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    This Italian mainstay is a fairly simple mix of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, and salt. "You can change up your recipe each time by adding items like capers, olives, and new spices to keep the flavor profile interesting," suggests Thole. The familiar sauce in a bowl of spaghetti or piece of lasagna is "rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that removes toxins from the body, and beta-carotene, which helps slow down the signs of aging," she says.

    Try it: Add it to pasta, pizza, grilled vegetables, meatballs, or polenta.

    Start here: Turkey Meatball Sliders

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    Endlessly versatile chutney (a hearty Indian sauce made from fruits, vegetables, spices, and vinegar) can amp up the sweet or savory side of a dish. This healthy sauce comes in a range of flavors and ingredients like mango (a winner on fish) or mint (perfect with lamb) or coconut (to soak up with naan). Chutneys also often provide a healthy dose of antioxidants and vitamins A and C, says Thole.

    Try it: Combine with grilled vegetables, spoon atop fish, stuff inside sandwiches, or scoop up with crackers.

    Start here: Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Cherry and Tomato Chutney

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    Go Greek with this refreshing combo of yogurt, dill, cucumbers, and lemon juice. This gyro BFF is "low in carbs and gluten-free while providing protein, probiotics, calcium, and vitamins D and C," says Thole. (While you're digging into some tzatziki, consider adding these 7 Healthy Condiments You Haven't Tried Yet to your meals this week.)

    Try it: Use it as a sandwich spread, a dip for pita, or a marinade or topping for chicken, beef, or lamb.

    Start here: Steak-and-Tzatziki Sandwiches with Roasted Carrots and Dill

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    Barbecue Sauce

    Bypass the store-bought bottles (which are often loaded with sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, sodium, and preservatives, says Thole) and make your own with ketchup, a bit of brown sugar, a dash of vinegar, and some smoky spices. That way, you can control the sugar and sodium content while still stocking up on loads of B vitamins, antioxidants, and vitamin C.

    Try it: Of course, it can coat wings and ribs, but try something new with your 'que by putting it on tacos, fish, potatoes, pizza, or vegetables.

    Start here: Chicken Thighs with Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

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    This zesty green sauce offers vitamin K and healthy monounsaturated fats. Basil (which also fights cancer), olive oil, and pine nuts blend with garlic and Parmesan cheese in the traditional pesto formula. Get wild by trading in kale or parsley for the of basil, or walnuts or almonds for the pine nuts.

    Try it: Toss with pasta, stir into scrambled eggs, or drizzle on bruschetta.

    Start here: Linguine with Pesto, Chicken and Spring Vegetables