Note: this article has no affiliate links. I am recommending products based on what I personally view as a good option or use in my own household.
Once upon a time I used to eat ketchup with everything. Fries, chicken nuggets, cheese sticks, burgers and heck, even pizza. Ketchup just made everything better, and after all it was just tomatoes – right?
Err, more like a teaspoon of sugar with every bite. A few years ago when I finally read the label of a ketchup bottle (weird how we can go an entire lifetime eating something without reading what’s in it) I discovered there were 4 grams (or one teaspoon) of sugar in every one tablespoon of ketchup. Now who really eats one tablespoon of sugar and stops there?
It’s no wonder that when I started reading the labels properly for all my condiments, I couldn’t help but throw them out. They were making me pack on unnecessary pounds and feel sick. That’s not to say I live without ketchup or mayonnaise (utter blasphemy), I simply purchase or make a homemade alternative that is much better!
Here are the 6 most common household condiments that you should throw out (or at least, wait for it to finish) and then swap out with the following suggestions:
Swap: homemade ketchup
Remember how we talked about that teaspoon of sugar in ketchup? Were you imagining white sugar on a spoon? Let’s change that visual slightly, because Heinz ketchup (does anyone even use another brand?) uses high fructose corn syrup and regular corn syrup as a sweetener. Yep, the industrial sweetener that has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
While there are some healthier ketchup brands available like this one, I prefer to make my own at home. If you have tomatoes and a few minutes on hand, try out this recipe:
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. vinegar
- 1 x 12 oz. can tomato paste
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. curry powder
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- Mix all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil on medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer while stirring frequently until flavours have blended. (Add more water for thinner ketchup, add less water for thicker)
- Transfer to a glass jar and cool before serving.
Swap: homemade mayonnaise
While you won’t find much sugar lurking in mayonnaise, the culprit in most common brands such as Hellman’s or Heinz is the soybean and canola oil. These are refined, industrial oils that are high in Omega 6 and damage heart health and spike inflammation. Now don’t get me wrong, we need both Omega 3 and 6 in our diet, but in the right ratio and from the right source. The ideal ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is 3:1, but unfortunately if you consume the standard Western diet the ratio is closer to 16:1, which leads to too much inflammation and hormonal imbalances. The simplest way to keep your ratio in balance is avoid processed foods, especially industrial seed oils such as corn, canola, safflower and soybean.
You can buy alternatives like this one online, or make your own as well. I like this recipe (just swap canola for olive oil), because it’s as close as possible to the taste we’re used to! Of course, there’s plenty of other alternatives online as well so feel free to experiment. If you want an egg-free version, you can try this one out too.
Swap: Raw honey
If your honey looks like liquid gold or comes in a plastic bottle, it’s time to make a change. We all know that honey has lots of beneficial properties like being a powerful antibacterial agent, is rich in prebiotics and probiotics for the gut, and chock full of live enzymes and amino acids. That’s what makes it such a fantastic healing agent for the gut, sore throat and topically, for wounds and burns. But all of these properties are destroyed the moment they’re heated, or in other words, pasteurized. If you’re consuming regular liquid honey, you are purchasing a sweetener with no nutritional benefit.
I you want the real stuff, pick up raw honey from a health food store. It is unpasteurized, with all nutrients still intact. It should be solid and more white, than yellow. Here’s the one I use.
Swap: 100% pure maple syrup
Whenever I see someone living in Canada using pancake syrup, I want to smack them with the Canadian flag and unleash a beaver on them. Seriously, we live in the land of the most delicious, pure maple syrup, so why use the fake stuff for the sake of a few dollars? Pancake syrup contains no maple syrup whatsoever. Here are the ingredients:
CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOUR, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOUR, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE.
Why do this to yourself? Skip the preservatives, corn syrup and artificial flavours and opt for 100% organic maple syrup, which is extremely rich in trace minerals and also magnesium (1 Tbsp contains 4 grams), the ultimate relaxation nutrient that’s good for our muscles, nerves, mood and heart health.
Here’s the brand that I use.
Swap: Organic Tamari
If you’re trying to cut back on wheat or looking for a healthier version of soy sauce, opt for tamari. While they’re both made from fermented soybeans, the process used to make tamari avoids using wheat. As a gluten-free option, this is better for gut health and less inflammatory. Plus, tamari has 30% more protein and a deeper, richer flavour. Here’s the brand I use, and I go for the reduced sodium version.
P.S. It’s important to make sure your tamari is organic since soy is one of the most common GMO ingredients on the market.
P.P.S. Don’t be fooled into thinking tamari has less sodium than soy, both are around the same.
Swap: homemade salad dressing or vinaigrette
Have you ever heard someone say they’re on a diet and then watch them order a large caesar salad slathered in creamy dressing, cheese and croutons? My heart hurts a little every single time. The thing is, salad dressings can make all the difference between a healthy salad or an unhealthy one. While heavy, creamy dressings like Thousand Island or Caesar are definitely less healthy, lighter dressings aren’t always the best option either.
Let’s take a look at Kraft’s Zesty Italian dressing. The first red flag for me is that it is made with canola oil, an inflammatory industrial seed oil we discussed briefly above. Definitely not the type of good fat you’re looking for in a salad (olive, hemp or flax oil are much better options!) Added sugar is the second red flag. While it is only one gram per tablespoon, most people will end up consuming more than a tablespoon of dressing and a few grams of sugar. Plus, why do we need sugar in a salad dressing? Maybe it’s to mask the taste of less than 2% garlic, onion, red bell peppers and spices!
Why subject yourself to a bottle of natural flavouring with sugar and an unhealthy fat, when you could simply make your own in minutes? All you need is 3 parts oil, 1 part acid, and some additional flavour! Here are some of the best salad dressings I’ve found till date.
Once you’re overcome the initial inconvenience of throwing out the old and swapping in the new, you’ll probably never look back! The healthier versions taste much better, the “from-scratch” condiments are simple to make, and you’ll feel lighter and healthier after your meals as well.