Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to “choose your own adventure” in the new and exciting field of condiment awareness. Last week in the mental mission, I encouraged you to begin reading condiment labels and being conscious of how many condiments you use and what quantity.
At our house, we have some very condiment-heavy meals. When we have homemade chicken nuggets and baked French fries, we can easily have a dozen condiment bottles on the table. Don’t believe me? Ketchup, mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, 3 different salad dressings, buffalo wing sauce, regular BBQ, spicy BBQ, Georgia Mustard BBQ, Insanity Sauce. There. That’s 12. Do we use a lot of napkins at that meal? Oh, yeah. Am I aware that that’s excessive condiments? Why do you think I’m trying to teach condiment awareness? The first step toward recovery is acceptance of a problem…
On to the mission! Below I list TEN different ways that you can reduce, upgrade, or increase consciousness of your condiments.
- Your Baby Steps mission is to choose ONE and implement it this week.
- If you’re ready to accept Making Strides, choose three.
- If you’ve really got a lot of mental energy this week, take a Leap of Faith and go for eight, or even ten. (What do Baby Steps, Making Strides, and Leap of Faith mean?)
Ten Steps to Increase Your Condiment Awareness
- Simply use less. Put a smaller dollop of ketchup on your plate for French fries. Drizzle salad dressing instead of pouring. If you can practice the fine art of putting the condiment onto your tongue first, you’ll quickly find that a little goes a long way in carrying the flavor across your tongue, and it’s usually the flavor (not the bulk) you want in a condiment anyway. If you’ve been condiment-aware this week, you may have noticed how much dressing ends up in the bottom of your salad bowl. Why waste? Just get it on your lettuce and let your tongue taste everything in the salad, PLUS the dressing.
- Start reading condiment labels and choosing the lesser-of-the-evils kind. Ketchup with less or no high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors. Salad dressing with plain sugar instead of HFCS.
- Use more mustard. Mustard is my all-time-favorite condiment. It always was because it’s just my thing, but now that I read labels, it’s gotten even better. Mustard has zero calories, zero fats, zero sugar. If you like it on a sandwich, go mustard-heavy and skip the ketchup, or skimp the ketchup. Dip your chicken in mustard instead of BBQ sauce.
- My fav fat free salad dressing? Mustard. I never liked dressings at all until college, and I thought one day, being the conscious kitchen steward that I am, “Hey…I like mustard on chicken sandwiches with cheese and lettuce. Here is a salad with cheese and chicken. Maybe mustard would be good on a salad!” And it is! Fat free, calorie free. Good deal. Also consider salsa on your salad, especially with some taco-seasoned chicken….Mmmm, Mmmm!
- Switch to something real. Use honey (raw, local is best – see here for more!) instead of HFCS-laden jam on your toast or with natural peanut butter. Use real maple syrup instead of the fake stuff, which is all corn syrup, sugar and water. (See tomorrow’s Kitchen Tip Tuesday for some tricks to stretch the maple syrup, since it’s quite costly.)
- Try cinnamon. Besides the exciting health benefits of cinnamon, it can fake you out and make your tongue think things taste sweeter. Try adding it to your oatmeal, use it with butter on biscuits or toast instead of something sweet (jam, honey), and even add it to cookie recipes while trying to cut out some sugar. What else does cinnamon go great in?
- Switch to butter instead of margarine. Even if the label says “zero trans fats” you may be deceived. Read the full details here. Also see Butter vs. Margarine vs. Spreads.
- If you’re still afraid of butter (I’m not), use olive oil instead. Nobody has anything bad to say about EVOO (read more here), at least when it’s not heated. Use it with garlic salt on toast with Italian dishes, drizzle it on steamed veggies instead of butter, even try it with herbs on your potatoes.
- Make your own condiments. The only way to make sure all the ingredients are healthy without spending an arm and a leg (remember that “money” is one of the topics Kitchen Stewardship is trying to balance!) is to make your own. You can use Extra Virgin Olive Oil, real garlic for its health benefits, and leave out the HFCS and white sugar. Find four great dressing recipes here and my new favorites, Asian Toasted Sesame and Creamy Garlic. I have tried making my own ketchup once, but it didn’t go over well with the husband, so I’ll be Googling for a new recipe once my stores run lower (why waste what I’ve already purchased?). We now use homemade mayo for sandwiches and my ranch dressing recipe. There are many good BBQ sauce recipes out there too.
- Do NOT switch to the “low-fat” or “low-cal” version of dressings. Why not? When the fat comes out, what do you think goes in to replace it? If you’ve been label-reading, you may have noticed the answer: salt, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar. You’re choosing one evil over another, and perhaps the greater of the two evils. The “low-cal” or “light” versions too often use artificial sweeteners, chemicals with too many “what-ifs” for me to feed them to my family. (More on sweeteners this winter!) Just stick with the regular stuff and use less (see no. 1).
You may be interested in:
- Soul First, Body Second
- 10 Tips for Avoiding the Microwave
- Honey, We’re Having a Crudite Platter Tonight!
Need More Baby Steps?
Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.
That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and made a printable checklist so you can track your progress.
Sign up to get the checklist and weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.