Hilary Meyer
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Anything draped in a velvety-smooth cream sauce is bound to be delicious. It's also bound to be high in calories and full of saturated fat-which most of us could do without. So before you kiss your mother's recipe for macaroni and cheese goodbye or take your last spoonful of a creamy, comforting soup, consider that you could make the same creamy recipes with WAY less fat and fewer calories by using no cream at all. Yes, really.

Chef John Ash developed a no-cream cream sauce for EatingWell Magazine made from simple pantry staples as a way to slash fat and calories from dishes that are usually laden with fat. One cup of his Cream Sauce without the Cream has only 159 calories and 0 grams saturated fat. Compare that to 1 cup of heavy cream, which has 820 calories and 55 grams saturated fat.

Here are our tips to make a cream sauce without cream and Ash's secret no-cream cream sauce recipe.

1. Use Onions and White Wine to Add Flavor
Fat has a knack for amplifying flavor. So if you're going to take fat out of a dish, you need to compensate by adding a little more flavor to what you're making. That's why this no-cream cream sauce is better for using in creamy dishes than just replacing heavy cream with reduced-fat milk. To add savory flavor to your cream sauce, sauté onions in a little bit of olive oil. Then add a generous dose of white wine to brighten it up. The result is a mild, satisfying flavor that you wouldn't get by just using reduced-fat or nonfat dairy to replace heavy cream.

2. Use Rice to Thicken the Sauce Without Adding Fat
The fat in heavy cream also gives creamy dishes viscosity-a thick texture. To replicate that texture in this healthy recipe for cream sauce, we use starchy white rice as a thickener. By cooking and blending rice into the sauce you get a creamy texture without adding much in the way of flavor. And of course, rice is virtually fat-free. So you get the rich mouthfeel of heavy cream without added fat and calories.

3. Blend the Sauce to Make It Smooth
Another key to making a healthy cream sauce with a smooth consistency is to blend it. It's best to use a blender instead of a food processor since blenders do a better job of pureeing liquids into a smooth consistency. If you have a large blender, you may be able to blend all your sauce in one batch. If the liquid comes more than two-thirds of the way up the bowl of your blender, you should blend your sauce in two batches-you'll get a smoother consistency that way. And don't forget: use caution when blending hot liquids! Don't overfill your blender and do take the plastic stopper off the lid and cover it with a towel so the steam can escape.

Ready to whip up a batch of no-cream cream sauce to make all your favorite creamy recipes healthier? Here's a tip: make a big batch and save some in your refrigerator for a week or freeze it. If you put in the effort one time to make a big batch of this cream sauce base, you can use just a portion of it now and have the rest at the ready for a later time so you're not tempted to just take the easy route and open a carton of heavy cream for your next creamy recipe.

Cream Sauce without the Cream
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Here's a formula for making "cream sauce without the cream" to use as a healthy replacement for fat- and calorie-rich cream sauces in your favorite soups, pastas or sauces. This healthy recipe for cream sauce without heavy cream makes a big batch, more than you'll most likely need for one recipe, so refrigerate or freeze the extra sauce to use in other recipes.