They seem so innocent… they seem so harmless… but condiments can really turn a nice light and healthy plate into a calorie-laden one, and some of them add lots of additional crazy ingredients to your meal, too. Thankfully, there are several condiments out there that pack loads of flavor without all of the aforementioned gnarliness!
Here are some of those A-list condiments and flavor adders:
• Yellow and Dijon Mustard – Vinegar and mustard seed are the main ingredients for mustards, which means most varieties are calorie-free!
• Sour Pickles – These converted cucumbers are extremely low cal, as well. Whenever possible, make these bad boys at home in order to avoid the preservatives found in the store-bought types.
• Grilled Onions – Jeff and I LOVE grilled onions and add them to our food all the time! They offer loads of flavor and we never get tired of them. The only ingredients that are really needed in order to make them at home are sliced onions, a drop of oil and then water as needed to prevent sticking. Just sauté until they become tender or to your liking.
• Marinara Sauce – This stuff goes great on eggs, burger patties of every type and really anything that usually goes well with ketchup. Marinara typically contains a lot less sugar than ketchup does, but offers just as much tomato-y goodness. When buying it for the home, choose an organic variety whenever possible.
• Hot Sauce – Just a few drops of this calorie-free stuff transforms any dish from “pretty good” to “Holy WOW!” – just so long as you’re a fan of spicy food! Keep in mind that you won’t need to salt your food if you’re using hot sauce because this stuff contains a decent amount of sodium.
• Salsa – Not only is salsa super low in calories, but there are so many different varieties to choose from out there! My favorite is the darker colored roasted tomato type. Salsa also works as a nice dressing substitute for most green salads.
• Guacamole – Avocados, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, limejuice, a pinch of salt and sometimes a few additional spices, and that’s it – simple, healthy and delicious! Guacamole easily takes the place of mayo or butter on sandwiches and burgers due to the high moisture level but with WAY more flavor. If your goal is to lose weight, just make sure you keep it to about 2 – 3 tablespoons, as the healthy fat in avocado is dense in calories.
• Hummus – This is also a great mayo and butter alternative thanks to hummus’ creamy texture. And just like salsa, there are SO many varieties and recipes out there to choose from. Hummus also has the added benefit of protein and fiber due to its star ingredient, garbanzo beans.
Mayo, a big favorite in most households, did not make the list since you’re looking at an additional 150+ low nutrient calories for each sandwich application (depending on the size of the sandwich.) Plus, if it’s not homemade, you’re most likely using Best Foods/Hellmann’s, which is loaded with soybean oil and preservatives. Soy and soybean oil is not so awesome because 9 times out of 10 it is genetically modified and, soy is a phytoestrogen, which means it mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. Yah… no thanks. But if you’re a die-hard mayo-lover, do your body a humongous favor and make it fresh at home. There are ten thousand recipes available to choose from on the interweb. And if your goal is to lose weight, aim to keep your portions minimal.
Why our beloved ketchup didn’t make the list: Admittedly, I’m a big ketchup fan, just as I’m sure you are, as well. But since all major brands of it use high fructose corn syrup* to sweeten this sauce up, while dining out I keep my ketchup usage to a minimum. For the home, I buy the organic varieties that use other forms of sweeteners such as good ol’ fashioned cane sugar – which is still not the greatest ingredient for the body if use it on a very regular basis though, and especially if your goal is to lose fat.
Have any other condiments you think I should add to this list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
*High fructose corn syrup is also a GMO ingredient the majority of the time because it is often derived from GMO corn. Besides that, HFCS is a super cheap and low quality sweetener that is believed to be directly linked to the obesity epidemic.