Condiments are an important part of our family eating plan. When June was a toddler, dips were instrumental in getting her involved and interested in eating different vegetables. She loved to dunk her veggies into homemade bean or yogurt dip, but often her dips were quick condiments like mustard or unsweetened ketchup. The act of dipping made her little meals a more fun and interactive experience. I’m confident that condiments are one of the reasons why she is such a vegetable fan today.
Even now that June’s older, zipping up our foods is still essential to keeping her excited about our daily meals. Because we don’t do a lot of cheese, cream sauces, or added sugars, healthy condiments are key to infusing delicious flavors and textures into our eggs, sandwiches, salads, yogurt, and other everyday foods.
But healthy condiments are hard to come by. Most store-bought dressings and toppings are high in sugars, sodium, or questionable additives, like MSG. I’ve searched high and low to find products that meet my criteria of 0 added sugars and minimal to no unhealthy fats and additives.
Granted, my use of the word “healthy” when describing most of these condiments is a bit liberal. With the exception of kimchi, you won’t be adding much nutritional value. But these condiments are healthier options that give you peace of mind as you dip and dress. I highly recommend keeping these toppings within arms reach. Serve them up and let your family dip, spread, and give your familiar foods some zest!
June loves to add a little unsweetened ketchup (or hot sauce) to her egg muffins in the morning. It adds color, flavor, and fun. Most brands have about 1 teaspoon of sugar per tablespoon of ketchup! I was thrilled to discover Westbrae ketchup, which has 0 added sugars and a wonderful authentic tomato taste. It can make a simple dip for your kids’ steamed veggies. I like to mix it with dijon mustard for an easy shrimp dip. Once you and your kids get used to its more natural taste, you won’t want to go back to the sweet stuff. I buy Westbrae unsweetened ketchup at our local organic grocery store (MOM’s), but it’s also available online.
Yum…maple flavor without the sugar! We add this to sugar-free yogurt, smoothies, or our homemade fruit toppings for pancakes. Sometimes we add a little to our oatmeal in the morning. I highly recommend having this around to pack in more scrumptious flavor when eating low or no sugar fruit snacks or desserts. Sometimes June opens it just to get a maple “high” from the delectable scent. I like Frontier Maple Flavor because there is no alcohol in it and it’s a company I trust. I buy this at Whole Foods, organic markets (like MOM’s), and you can order it online. (Click here for store locator.)
Kimchi is probably the highest on my list of healthy condiments. One of the few condiments that truly adds nutrition to your meals. It’s high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Folate. Because it’s a fermented food, it may help ward off harmful bacteria in your gut.
I love kimchi for its tang and crunch on a sandwich, salad, or even as a side dish or topping for almost any meal. See here for more on the benefits of fermented foods. Here’s a good recipe for homemade kimchi.
My favorite dressing for salad is a fresh swish of olive oil and vinegar, and a flavorful salad spice mix. I love fresh herbs as well, but a spice mix is an instant way to make salads more exciting and appealing for our family. I sometimes add it to our side veggies for dinner. There’s lots of spice mixes to choose from, but Simply Organic offers a healthy and tasty variety without sodium or unhealthy additives.
Kime’s Apple Butter
Kime’s unsweetened apple butter packs in sweetness and is a dream condiment for a no-sugar family. We use it as a pancake topping, in smoothies, and as a sugar substitute in breads and desserts. When I get a sweet craving at the end of a meal, using this with peanut butter on a rice cracker is amazingly satisfying. As long as it’s unsweetened, I encourage any brand of apple butter, but Kime’s is a favorite. I can get mine in my regular grocery store, but you can order it as well.
If you love the aroma and flavor of bacon, but worry about the negative health effects, I suggest trying Lightlife’s Fakin’ Bacon. It’s now a staple in our kitchen. I like that this bacon substitute is made from a real protein, tempeh, which is another good-for-your gut fermented food. It’s all-organic, but because of the added flavorings and sodium content, I wouldn’t recommend eating these as whole strips. Chop, sauté, and add to your food like bacon bits to introduce a wonderful smoky bacon flavor.
I try not to go crazy with this scrumptious condiment (it’s tempting), but a couple times a month, we’ll have an egg dish, soup, or pilaf accented by this marvelous condiment. It will take a dish that June likes to one she loves. You can find smoky tempeh at Wegman’s, Whole Foods, Giant Food, your local organic market, or click here to see where to buy in your area.