How to Top Your Foods - Condiments
Hopefully you’ve already read our article about the 7 Seasonings for Health. You’ll quickly notice that most, if not all, of the below condiments have some, or many, of these seasonings in their ingredient lists. Great ingredients lead to great food!
What makes condiments good or bad for a person? We take the same approach to our condiments that we do for our whole foods we want our PP athletes and clients to eat; natural or minimally processed whole foods that are nutrient dense. Each of the condiments we are going to recommend in this article come from whole foods and they all provide good nutritious value.
The things we really want to cut out also are the added sugars, trans or saturated fats, and unnecessary preservatives or very high sodium levels.
Other additives we want to avoid when able, include vegetable oils and anything that says “hydrogenated” as those are often man made and highly processed versions of healthy fats which are hard for the human body to break down and use.
Guacamole – when this is homemade, or a healthy store-bought version, it can be an amazing source of good healthy fats, vegetables and vitamins. These can all add up to an amazing topping we definitely recommend. The problem with a lot of store bought brands if you don’t do your homework is they minimize the most important ingredient, avocado, for other cheaper filler ingredients. This leads to a lower amount of healthy fat and a higher amount of bad fats (saturated and trans) while also removing a lot of the vitamins. So, just be careful when picking your guacamole OR follow our homemade guacamole recipe!
Homemade Salsa – Salsa is another example of a great condiment when made with minimally processed foods and fillers. Options for this can be endless, with tons of tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, onions, etc. When made correctly this can also brighten up and flavor so many different meals with minimal effort. We love to see this many veggies and good vitamins all in one easy to find place. There are also other variations of salsa that take a whole different spin on a classic dish, to include fruit salsas.
Here is a great example from Cecilia Donnelly posting over on AllRecipes.com.
Pesto – This is definitely a calorie dense food, that much like guacamole, can provide awesome performance or good fat from olive oil, while also providing great vitamins and nutrients from the traditional ingredients of basil, olive oil, garlic and pine nuts. When shopping or picking a recipe for homemade pesto, you should look to see if the ingredient list says it was made with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) which is the preferred nutritional version of olive oil.
Hummus – This traditional middle eastern dish made of chickpeas, lemon and garlic has become a very popular dish with North Americans over the last few decades and can easily be sourced in most grocery stores. The problem with the store brands, much like the other condiments you’ll see on this list is the poor quality of the ingredients going in and the lack of the major nutrients from what should be the main portions. Often times with hummus there are fewer chickpeas, more fillers, and instead of good high quality EVOO they’ll use other cheaper oils that are higher in saturated and trans fats in order to save money. This can greatly change the quality of the food in the wrong way and have a major impact on how the body uses it. Try our homemade version or check the links we’ve provided for the best store bought versions!
Mustard – This low calorie, nutrient dense food can be a great asset when topping your favorite foods. Mustard seeds actually come from the same family of food as broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts. Specifically, the seeds contain an enzyme that can help convert glucosinolates into a substance called isothiocyanates. This has been shown in a lot of research to have great anti-cancer effects and be able to stop existing cancer cells from growing and also preventing specifically colon and gastro intestinal (GI) related cancers.
Like all the other store-bought foods you buy that can last forever, the sodium levels and preservatives can be high, so we recommend eating in some moderation when topping or using in recipes. Another great option is to make homemade mustards. Here is a great breakdown of different types of mustards as well as how to integrate easy foods, done well by Samira over at Alpha Foodie.
Low Sugar and Natural Ketchup – Much like mustard, this one has a lot of great potential to use whenever it’s taken from a great source and made with natural ingredients instead of the highly processed ones we often see at the grocery store. If done properly, all the tomatoes can add a great micronutrient called lycopene which has health benefits like heart health and being an antioxidant. There are a lot of ketchup brands out there now that make low sugar or more natural options (find the link at the bottom of this article). Another great option is to make it yourself, just work to limit sugar and sodium as you choose your recipe.
Don’t see the topping you were hoping for? Maybe wishing we had put Tzatziki or Chutney?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this guide of the best store brands you can buy for each condiment that breaks down their calorie content and where to find them.
Want more help figuring out the best approach to the food you make and how to top it? Click Here to sign up for Powell Performance coaching!