If you’re anything like, oh, everybody, you probably enjoy condiments. From ketchup to mayo, from cheese sauce to chili, they just make everything taste amazing, right? What you may not know is that the addition of too many condiments can actually change a not-so-bad for you meal into a total healthy diet derailer.
Here’s the good news, just a little bit of self-restraint and foresight can have very real benefits to your health and energy levels. Don’t believe me? I’m a convert whose guilty pleasure is Thousand Island dressing. Since switching to white wine vinegar, I’m eating more veggies than ever because I’ve actually discovered what they taste like — and they’re delicious. Imagine that? Read on to find out healthy condiment alternatives that allow you to amp up flavor in your meals without the added fats, sugars, salt and calories.
Did you know that mustard has zero added sugar, unlike its red comrade, and the varieties that contain whole mustard seeds pack serious antioxidant punch in those small flavor beads? Spicy mustard brings a touch of heat and flavor where standard yellow mustard fails. And yes, honey mustard has its perks too. Just beware that it’s got more sugar, so you might want to skip the extra helping, and use half of what’s delivered to your table with your chicken fingers. If you’re too big a fan of sugary ketchup to leave it behind, try to mix half your normal amount with mustard.
Reduced-Sodium Soy Sauce
Soy sauce has a bad rep. For years the high levels of sodium made folks watching their health wary. Instead, use a reduced-sodium soy sauce which packs all the same flavor of its salty cousin. Personally, I like to mix it in with ground beef or turkey and find it adds moisture to meat on the grill.
It’s not just for shrimp cocktail. Cocktail sauce contains ingredients that could prevent cancer, macular degeneration, and cardiovascular disease. Add it to burgers, dogs or chicken for a mildly spicy flavor kick. Just think of it the same as you would honey mustard, according to Joy Bauer, nutrition expert for the Today show. It’s not totally free of sugar, so those with type 2 diabetes should use it sparingly.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Most of us have heard that hummus is a healthy dip for literally anything you want to put into it. It’s also easy to make at home with a can of chick peas, lemon, tahini and a touch of garlic. If basic hummus is a little dull, feel free to add in your own herbs or peppers. Eat your fill! Amino acids, iron and B6 all contribute to your overall health.
Again, homemade is best in this scenario, and making salsa is fun. A rough chop here, a rough chop there, a bit of parsley and you’re about to get a healthy dose of veggie goodness you might not have otherwise had the time to consume. Think of putting it on your footlong instead of chili and cheese. Your digestive system may thank you the following day.
Whether or not hot sauce can suppress appetite or boost metabolism is still up for debate. Those “facts” are little more than urban myths. But hot sauce does have an attractive quality, lots of flavor for literally 1 calorie per teaspoon. It’s one of my favorite sauces to add to just about anything from a drizzle on top of potatoes to my scrambled eggs.
Olive oil, basil, garlic and a touch of cheese, everything in pesto has a health benefit. This is another sauce that can easily replace creamy alfredos, ranch dressing, slabs of American cheese and even mayo.
As mentioned above, vinegar is one of my favorite things to toss a salad with, it keeps the ingredients moist yet crunchy, and doesn’t remove their natural flavor. But vinegar is another condiment that can be helpful during your next fry binge (we all have them). The Canadians have been doing it for ages. Sprinkle vinegar on top of your fried potatoes for sugar-free flavor.
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