Low cholesterol, low sodium sauerbraten….can it be done? It was a challenge I was prepared to tackle, especially since we haven’t had our German comfort food fix in over two years. My husband bought a nice lean piece of bottom round roast and a tub of fat-free sour cream and asked, “Can you try it?”
I did, and it was delicious!
Oktoberfest in January: Low cholesterol, low sodium sauerbraten
Sauerbraten is German comfort food. It’s pot roast with the richest spicy, sweet, sour gravy imaginable. I make it in the slow cooker (Crock Pot) which saves some time, but it is a labor-intensive meal that’s worth every bite.
Spaetzle or Noodles?
The traditional side dishes that accompany sauerbraten include red cabbage, which I made from scratch, and spaetzle. Spaetzle is a type of small dumpling popular in Alsace and southern Germany (where my family comes from) that’s truly delicious. But, like many delicious ethnic foods, it takes time to make, and on a workday, I did not have time to make it from scratch. I substituted noodles instead.
I found “no yolk” noodles which eliminated the cholesterol from the side dishes. No yolk noodles are very light and airy, too, which is good with a heavy meal like sauerbraten. The extra broad no-yolk egg noodles are great with this meal because the broad noodles provide more surface area for the gravy.
The Gravy: Zapping the Cholesterol from Sauerbraten Gravy
Typically, sauerbraten gravy drips with cholesterol and sodium. I guess that’s why it tastes so good! The recipe that I’ve been making for years utilizes the beef broth and apple cider vinegar base from the Crock-Pot and adds sour cream, crushed ginger snap cookies, brown sugar, and flour to the liquid to make a thick, heavy gravy.
To lighten the gravy, I started with a sodium-free base of water and apple cider vinegar. As the meat cooked in the slow cooker, the drippings added taste to the water and cider vinegar. I kept the ginger snaps the same and substituted fat-free sour cream for the full-fat version. I cut the flour by one-third and used the same amount of brown sugar. The result was a light yet extremely tasty gravy that mimicked the original recipe very well.
Cutting the Salt
Lastly, cutting the sodium in the recipe was easy. I simply eliminated the canned beef brother or bouillion cube from the Crock-Pot. The original recipe called for one cup of beef brother and one cup of apple cider vinegar in the Crock-Pot while the meat cooks. I simply used water and vinegar instead.
Red Cabbage from Scratch
The red cabbage cooked on the stovetop while I worked on the gravy. I sliced red cabbage and half an onion very thin and cooked it in a saucepan. To make the red cabbage from scratch, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in the saucepan. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar. Then stir in the onion and cook it until translucent. Add the red cabbage. Stir. Add 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup red wine or red wine vinegar. Stir, cover, and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Uncover and add 1 cup of water, stirring and covering but leaving the cover slightly ajar to release steam. Simmer for half an hour, stirring frequently and adding more water as needed to prevent sticking. That’s it! It came out delicious.
Our final numbers: Sodium, 480 mg per serving. Cholesterol, 80 mg per serving.
Low Cholesterol, Low Sodium Sauerbraten
- 1 roast beef bottom round Ours was 8 ounces; choose one for your family by weight
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2/3 cup water
- 3 leaves bay leaves
- 15 cookies gingersnaps crush cookies into fine powder
- 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- To make the sauerbraten, place the meat, water, apple cider vinegar and bay leaves in a Crock-Pot. Cover and cook on LOW 6-8 hours.
- To make the gravy, remove the meat and keep warm. Pour the hot liquid from the Crock-Pot into a saucepan. Stir in the crushed gingersnaps and brown sugar. Simmer on low. Stir in the sour cream with a whisk until blended. Add flour to thicken. Simmer. If the sauce is too thick, thin with water. Too thin, add a pinch of flour until it is the desired consistency.
- Cook egg noodles or no-yolk egg noodles (to eliminate excess cholesterol) according to package directions.
- Serve the meat warm, in slices, along with the noodles. Pour on gravy as desired. Add red cabbage and enjoy!
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.