Sauce is the secret ingredient behind many dishes and comes in many forms and flavors – sweet, sour, tangy, salty, you name it. Let’s agree: a life without sauce is one that’s not fully lived.

Matthew Shepard, executive chef at the McNinch House Restaurant, agrees: sauces are awesome. And while they bring out the flavor in dishes, Shepard gets that savvy dieters often worry about the added sugar in BBQ and spaghetti sauces and even some salad dressings.

With grilling season in full force, Shepard dished out five cooking tips  and three sauce and marinade recipes at Novant Health Weight Loss Services’ July 15 cooking demonstration in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  1. Don’t wash your raw chicken. You might think you’re protecting yourself, but washing chicken can let the juices contaminate other areas in your kitchen, according to the CDC.
  2. Most people shy away from marinating meat when they’re in a pinch to prepare a meal, but marinating meat even just for 20 minutes to two hours can make a big difference. It’s a small investment that can go a long way.
  3. Sometimes it’s hard to avoid adding sugar in your sauces and marinades. But if you’re looking for other low calorie options, try stevia.
  4. If you’re looking for a leaner meat recipe, opt for marinating your protein over dipping it in calorie-heavy sauces.
  5. There’s a healthier alternative to traditional ranch dressing — try using yogurt instead of mayonnaise.


BBQ sauce

Prep time: 10 minutes


1/2 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar (or any sugar alternative)

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 clove of minced garlic


1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco


Mix all of the ingredients together. If you apply during grilling, wait until the meat is almost done and finish over low heat. A hot fire will turn BBQ black in a flash.

Steak marinade

Prep time: 15 minutes



1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil

1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon ground black pepper



Mix all of the ingredients together and marinade steak for an hour or two.

Seafood marinade

Prep time: 15 minutes


1 cup water

1/4  cup lemon juice

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon of cracked peppercorns

1 teaspoon salt


1/2 teaspoon Tabasco (or some other hot sauce alternative)


Mix all ingredients together and marinate the seafood of your choice for about 30 minutes.






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