The Secret Weapon to Eating Healthy

When I first became a personal trainer, I was excited to learn how to stick to a healthy lifestyle. I was doing decent-ish on the "healthy" scorecard while at my corporate job on Wall Street, but struggled desperately with consistency.

Once I started at the gym, I dove into as many trainings and certification programs as I could. I learned new exercises and fell in love with kettlebells. I studied how the digestion system works and learned what macros are and how to measure them. 

But I still wasn't great at consistently eating at home. I'd food prep, and have healthy options ready to go, but when it came time for lunch or dinner, chicken, broccoli and sweet potato just seemed way too boring. So I'd compensate with pizza and take-out. 

This cycle continued until I re-discovered salsa on a trip home to visit family in New Mexico. I moved to NYC after college and kinda forgot about it. East coast salsas were always a letdown, so I stopped buying them. 

But on this trip I had checked a bag, so I brought some back with me. Once I got home I started to put it on everything. All of a sudden chicken and broccoli had some kick to it! And that's when I discovered that sauces are the secret weapon to consistently eating healthy food. 

Sauces are the secret weapon to consistently eating healthy food. 

They keep your palette engaged and your taste buds satisfied. They will also give you variety without adding lots of calories. I wish I had the time and energy (and motivation quite frankly) to make a different dish and flavor profile every night for dinner, but I don't. I'm busy and rely on food prep for most of my meals. This is where different sauces can save the day.

But not all of them are created equal. 

Make sure you look at the ingredients. You should be able to recognize (and pronounce) all of them. Be aware of the calories per serving, you don't want to be adding 100-200 calories in just dressing. Also be sure to look for brands that do not add sugar, save those calories for cupcakes, am I right? 

These are my top 10 favorite sauces and how I use them. 

1. Salsa - New Mexicans literally put chile on everything (like you can even order it at McDonald's), so I put this salsa on just about any protein to spice things up. 

2. Cholula - If you are feeling bored with your morning eggs (especially egg whites), add some of this to keep it interesting. It's not overly spicy, just adds a nice flavor. 

3. Franks Red Hot Original - This is my favorite when I'm wanting some heat. It is also good on eggs or beans and rice (but use sparingly). 

4. Spicy Mustard - This is a totally underrated condiment. It's adds a ton of flavor with barely any calories. My favorite way to eat it is on an avocado egg salad sandwich

5. Anything from Tessamaes - My favorites are their salad dressings, but I also recommend stalking up on their ketchup and BBQ sauce, no added sugar (rare to find!).  

7. Coconut Aminos - This is a less sodium, wheat and soy free version of soy sauce. It's delicious on stir fries. I generally buy mine at Trader Joe's, but Bragg's also makes a good one. 

8. Marinara Sauce - Look for brands that do not add sugar (it's in most), and preferably made with olive oil instead of canola or soybean oil, my fav here. I love this on brown rice pasta and eat it at least once a week. 

9. Apple Cider Vinegar - This is more of an accent than a sauce, but it's great for salads. (Or if you are bored with water

10. Maple Syrup - The real kind, not Mrs. Butterworth. This rounds out my sauce staples because sometimes you need something sweet, especially on these pancakes. Only caution is to be careful and not go crazy just because you get the real stuff, the calories will add up.

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Any sauces you can't live without? What are the staples you never go without?