One of the most popular recipes requested during my time working on the BBC One Programme: The Truth About Sugar was my sweet and sour sauce.  Most commercial shop bought sauces are packed with sugar and sweeteners. Per 100g they often contain around 6 tsp sugar.  You can easily ditch the syrups, honey and juice and maximise the flavour with tangy rice vinegar, rich tomato paste and plenty of spices. Adding a few chunks of pineapple provides a wonderful texture and natural sweetness without the need to resort to added syrups. If you need a little extra sweetness you can add a little xylitol or pinch of stevia but as the pineapple is sweet you may find you don’t need it.

My recipe below is loved by children and so versatile – you can use it for meat, fish and veggie based dishes. I often make up a batch of this and store in the fridge or freezer until needed. All you then need to do is cook some tofu, chicken or fish with some vegetables, pour over the sauce and heat through.

Low Sugar Sweet & Sour Sauce


Difficulty – Easy

Time – 10 minutes cooking time

Serves – 4

What’s good about it?

Pineapple is rich in bromelain, an naturally occuring enzyme that supports digestion. Adding a few chunks of pineapple provides natural sweetness to a dish without needing syrups and sugars


  1. Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion for 2-3 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli if using and stir for a minute.
  2. In a small bowl add the cornflour and mix in 3tbsp of chicken stock to make a smooth paste.
  3. Add the remaining chicken stock, vinegar, xylitol, tamari and tomato puree to the pan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, add the pineapple chunks and cornflour paste and simmer for 3-5 minutes to thicken the sauce. Season to taste.
  4. This can pour this sauce over cooked meat or vegetables or use as a dipping sauce. You can store the sauce in the fridge for 2-3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

Did you Know?

Make up a big batch of this sauce and freeze in portions for up to 3 months

Makes enough for 4 people


1tsp olive oil or coconut oil

1 small red onion, finely diced

2 crushed garlic cloves

½ tsp fresh ginger root, grated

½ red chilli, deseeded and finely diced or pinch of chilli flakes, optional

¼ tsp Chinese five spice powder

4 tbsp tomato puree

200ml fresh chicken stock or vegetable stock

2tsp cornflour

2 tbsp rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp xylitol or pinch of stevia (to taste)

2 tbsp tamari soy sauce, gluten free

200g fresh pineapple (or canned in natural juice) cut into small pieces

Freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of sea salt