Stop Buying These "Foods" at the Supermarket
There’s a reason I talk about food so often here at Constitutional Health, and it’s not just because I like to eat. I talk about it for one simple reason: what we eat is incredibly important. From the nutrients—or lack of them—in our food to the herbicides and pesticides it’s exposed to, each bite of food that goes in our mouths affects every single cell in our bodies.
What’s happened to our food over my lifetime is nothing short of horrifying. In fact, I don’t think it’s too big of a stretch to say that more than half of the “food” we eat isn’t even really food—you only have to read the ingredient label to see that for yourself. So I talk about food—what we should and shouldn’t be eating, what’s full of sugar or preservatives, what’s most likely to be GMO and so on—whenever I can.
Every once in a while I try to throw a recipe in, because it’s hard to know where to start when you’ve been eating processed junk all your life. And that’s what I’m going to do today. But this time, I’m not going to give you a recipe for a low-carb dinner or a lunch full of omega-3s. Instead I want to focus on an area that doesn’t usually get much attention but is jam-packed with high-fructose corn syrup and GMO ingredients if you go the supermarket route. What am I talking about?
Condiments. Our refrigerators are full of them. We use them on and in any number of dishes. Whether it’s the mayo in the potato salad or the ketchup on our burgers, condiments are present at more meals than not and they play their own special role in wrecking our health.
The good news is, the most popular condiments are dead easy to make yourself—and they taste better than the supermarket version. If you read my “field guide to real food” series you’ve probably already cleaned up your pantry and replaced some of the worst offenders with real food…now let’s do the same thing with your refrigerator.
The most popular condiments on the market are mayonnaise (6 of the top 25 best-sellers are brands of mayo), ketchup, and “ranch” dressing. Here’s how to make your own.
Real mayonnaise (makes about a cup)
Mayonnaise is the best-selling condiment there is, and nearly all of it is made with GMO soybean oil. Most brands also have a ton of additives and preservatives that do God knows what to your body. Real mayonnaise has only a handful of ingredients and is a snap to make. Here’s what you need:
- 1 egg, preferably pasture-raised organic
- 1 t Dijon mustard
- 1/4 t fine sea salt
- 1 C olive oil (make sure it’s not extra-virgin for flavor purposes) or other non-GMO oil of your choice
- 1 1/4 t lemon juice
There are various ways to whip up some mayo. You can use a bowl and a whisk, a mixer, a blender or a food processor. If you’re using a whisk or mixer, begin by combining the egg, mustard, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl and beating till well mixed. If using a blender, use a setting (probably “chop,” but this may vary from machine to machine) that will allow you to leave the machine running without splashing the contents all over the counter.
Next add the oil, a few drops at a time, till the whole mixture begins to thicken. This will use roughly 1/4 C and may take a couple of minutes if you’re whipping by hand.
Once your may begins to thicken, drizzle the remaining oil in, beating constantly until you’ve incorporated it all and it’s thick and smooth. (If you’re using a food processor or blender leave the machine running throughout the whole process).
Voila—real mayonnaise, with no GMO ingredients and for a fraction of the price of store-bought. This can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week and has much better flavor than store-bought may.
Ketchup is a major source of high-fructose corn syrup, not to mention additives and preservatives. This home-made version does have sugar but no HFCS—and like all from-scratch recipes the beauty of it is that you can adjust until it fits your taste. You need:
- 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste, preferably organic
- 1/3 C sugar (for non-GMO sugar, choose cane sugar)
- 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 C water
- 1 t salt
- 1/4 t onion powder (the finer the better)
- 1/8 t garlic powder
Combine all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and whisk together well. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes. Take care to stir thoroughly and often, especially during the last 10 minutes, or it will scorch. Makes about 1 ½ cups.
The original “ranch” dressing
There’s no getting around it—homemade ranch dressing is never going to taste exactly like the store bought version. Why? Because store bought Ranch contains MSG. And may brands, believe it or not, also contain HFCS. The recipe below, however, is the real deal, but without the daily dose of fructose or the unwanted MSG or preservatives.
- 1/2 C buttermilk
- 1/2 C mayonnaise (try using your own homemade)
- 1 t dried parsley
- 1/8 t dried dill weed
- 1/4 t onion powder
- 1/4 t fine sea salt
- 1/8 t garlic powder
- 1/4 t ground white pepper
Mix all the ingredients well, then chill for at least 2 hours to let flavors meld (overnight is even better.) To make a dry mix instead, omit the mayo and substitute powdered buttermilk for liquid. 2 T = 1 packet of store bought mix.
Changing the way you eat is one of the most important things you can do for your heart and for your health in general. But eating habits and taste preferences can be hard to shift—they’re something that’s set in large part while we’re growing up, and making many big changes all at once can be difficult. That’s one of the reasons conventional “diets” fail.
But even small changes can make a big difference. And enough small adjustments here and there add up to serious change in the end. For example, making these three condiments from scratch can cut a lot of fructose from your diet if you eat like a typical American. And like most “from scratch” food, the flavor is far superior to the supermarket variety.
So if you’re trying to eat healthier but having a hard time, don’t beat yourself up. Instead of trying to change the habits of a lifetime all at once, make small changes here and there. Before you know it, your tastes will have changed dramatically.
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