Most of us like tomato sauce as a topper for pasta and pizza or baked into some favorite dishes like lasagna but did you know that many store-bought sauces contain a lot of hidden sugars? For a 2000-calorie daily diet, only 50 grams of sugar are recommended. They can be hiding in lots of places, so when you can cut back somewhere, it’s best to try. 

In this post, we will look at some alternatives to using tomato sauce as well as share a recipe to make a healthier version of tomato sauce at home.

Some common brands of tomato sauce have higher sugar content per serving, which is only about ½ a cup of sauce. Here are a few popular brands and their added sugar content:

  1. Bertolli Tomato and Basil = 12 grams
  2. Prego Traditional = 10 grams
  3. Barilla Marinara = 9 grams
  4. Ragu Old World Style Traditional = 8 grams
  5. Newman’s Own Marinara = 7 grams
  6. Whole Foods 365 Marinara = 4 grams (Winner)

Tomato-Free Substitutes

There are other reasons that someone might want to avoid tomatoes and sauce made from them. Tomatoes are acidic and can trigger heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux and promote inflammation so on top of hidden sugars, you might want to stay away from traditional tomato sauces for other health reasons. Here are a few ideas for “Nomato” sauce.

Carrot and Beet Sauce

Similar to marinara but with a different flavor, carrots, and beets offer a ton of nutrition and can be supplemented in many dishes that use tomato sauce. Try sauteeing the vegetables with onion, garlic, and olive oil, then blend to desired texture. Add seasonings to taste.

Eggplant Sauce

To create a tomato sauce substitute from eggplant, first, saute or roast it, and then remove the skin. Add olive oil and your preferred spices and herbs and then blend into a puree, adding water to reach a sauce consistency.

Still want tomato sauce? Here is a healthy sauce you can make from home with minimal ingredients and no added sugar. You can make and freeze them for future use as well.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

  • ⅛ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 large cans of whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 large onion
  • Black pepper to taste (optional)
  1. In a small stockpot or large deep skillet, heat the oil until warm but not smoking.
  2. Add the garlic and cook only until lightly colored.
  3. Add the tomatoes and juice.
  4. Add the onion and bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes, until the tomatoes break apart easily (then mash them with a potato masher or spatula to break them up).
  6. Remove the onion.
  7. Stir well. Add black pepper to taste.

The Great Tomato

Tomatoes are technically a fruit but are considered a vegetable for culinary purposes. They are high in nutrient content, low in calories, and rich in antioxidants. They are linked to many potential health benefits. So as long as they don’t worsen other conditions, they and sauces from them are a wonderful way to add flavor to your meals. Just be mindful of premade, store-bought versions that can have higher added sugar content.