Cleaning Up The Classics Part V: Condiments

Not necessarily some people’s idea of ‘classic’ dishes I’m sure, but definitely an area that could use some serious domestic wizardry, condiments AKA sauces, seasonings, dressings etc are one of the easiest ways for us to scupper our healthful efforts. Pre-prepared sauces are one of (if not the King of) the hidden sugar laden beasts and this trend is increasing all the time as our tastebuds become ever more skewed towards the sweeter style of life.

“But I just love Ketchup” I hear you cry! Don’t worry I do too 🙂

Scan back even just a couple of months ago and you will discover my secret dances with the Devil……..My sister found it hilarious (I think it was hilarious or possibly incredulous, one can never tell) but at a meal I could easily go through 3/4 of a jar of mustard and half a bottle of ketchup. Now the actual meal I had made would be something super healthy; baked sweet potato wedges, a pile of green veggies and some kind of lean protein, but I would then literally douse the whole thing in these additional extras when I got to the table.

Just as a quick aside, in my case this absolute craving for all things vinegary and sharp tasting was an indication of deeper digestive issues relating to low stomach acid and Zinc levels – hence now, following some additional support of this system, I am able to enjoy food once more without the excessive saucing. If you find you have a similar need for acidic or strongly vinegary foods, or perhaps your taste is off/duller than others, I would suggest seeking the advice of a Nutritional Therapist who can help you to resolve this issue.

Anyway as I was saying, I’ve taken my lovely, nourishing food and I’ve poured syrup all over it. Syrup? I thought you were eating ketchup by the bucket load? Indeed I was but maybe unbeknownst to you, ketchup is actually way up there on the ‘High Carbohydrate Foods’ list. This list, as the name implies, is of the foods with the highest quantities of simple carbohydrates (AKA sugar) per 100g. In order to achieve this somewhat damming status a foodstuff must have over 22g of sugar per 100g serving and what-da-ya-know, ketchups got it.

But it’s a savoury food! It doesn’t taste sweet! Oh but it does….AND they get it in there in more ways than one I’m sorry to tell you. If you look at an ingredients list on a bottle or jar the components are listed in the order from greatest quantity to least. Now if they put all the sugar content in as one form then it would be the first ingredient, waaaaay above tomatoes, so instead they break it down into different forms (ultimately they are all the same) meaning they can appear lower down the list. Genius! (or devious…..hmmm)

So I think you get the picture as far as the whole sugar thing goes, then there’s the consideration to pay towards salt and other artificial preservatives (and there are quite a few to allow that bottle to hang out on a shelf for 10 years..!) plus colourings, flavourings…..the list goes on. Bottom line? Best decision you can make today is to give those 57 varieties one last dance and then move on to number 58!

Now the other side of today’s coin is dressings and again for the same reasons as above, pre-made ones should be approached with more than excessive caution. There is also the added conundrum of what the hell some of the ingredients in them are! A classic Caesar dressing for example has a few core ingredients including anchovies, parmesan cheese, lemon, eggs and olive oil. Now I challenge you to go and find those ingredients on the bottle in the supermarket! There may be an ‘essence of anchovy’ or ‘partially deconstructed, rehydrated powdered egg substitute’ but I’m not sure what that actually has to do with the original one laid by a hen……

The great thing about salad dressings is they are fundamentally made out of ingredients most of us will have in our cupboards and a basic one can be whipped up in less time than it takes to slice a cucumber (not that cucumber is the be all and end of a salad). Being a person rather fond of a good veggie medley myself I have a selection of dressings I will reach for depending on the combination of ingredients, my mood and how creative I’m feeling. There should be something for everyone and each can be tweaked to your own personal taste; try out different mustards or vinegars, add extra fresh herbs or leave out the garlic, the condiment world is your oyster! Oh and if you haven’t tried drizzling hot roasted veggies and quinoa with tahini dressing I suggest you do so now!

Proper Tomato Ketchup

Staple Salad Dressing (oil free)

Classic Vinaigrette

Divine Tahini Dressing