I have lost years of my life in grocery store aisles. When I want a specific product that meets specific standards, and at a price I’m willing to pay, I will search high and low.
Unfortunately, sometimes the quest is futile. Sometimes, even while my kids are nearing the point that no parent wants to encounter in a grocery store (when they no longer want the other to touch them or look at them even though all three are crammed into one cart), I push on insisting that the product exists. Until finally I give up and decide to just make it myself. Turns out, this is usually a good thing.
This has happened over and over during the last 10 years of my life, and I’ve learned to make everything from yogurt to honey-based chocolate sauce (for chocolate milk) to my sports drinks and training fuel. And, lately, more and more condiments.
This week, we have a great, 3-minute easy barbeque sauce that you’ll love as is or may use as a foundation to add your own touch. Since I’m not willing to spend $6 a bottle on it, I’ve given up on high-quality BBQ sauce that does not have high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and corn/soybean or other omega-6 oils. These ingredients are 3 that won’t benefit your health, your heart, or your training. Here’s a simple BBQ sauce recipe and my guide to condiment shopping so that you can continue to stay healthy and on and off the trail:
Recipe of the week: 3-Minute Homemade BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup ketchup (“natural” variety with NO high fructose corn syrup)
- 1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar OR balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons organic honey
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- Salt and Fresh ground pepper to taste
- Mix all ingredients together.
- Enjoy over any high quality (organic and/or grazed, if possible) meat, black bean burgers, on BBQ chicken pizza, and more!
There are very good reasons to be extra picky about your condiments. I mean, looking-at-every- ingredient or making-your-own picky. Commercial condiments often have one or more things wrong with them. Often, much more. And, although the amounts of the junk ingredients may be small, even small amounts can wreak havoc on health, energy, and fat loss efforts. Many condiments have the wrong kind of fat in them. The wrong kind of sugar in them. And, often, a list of junk ingredients you’d never find in your own pantry, and only the cheap kind used by food manufacturers more interested in their bottom line than the quality of their product. When shopping for condiments, watch out for these 3 junk ingredients:
Hydrogenated Fats: First, be on the look out for transfats (partially hydrogenated oils). Transfats are liquid fats (such as oils) that have been chemically altered to become solid at room temperature (such as margarine). This alteration actually changes the “shape” of the bonds (from cis to trans) in the fat. They occur only in very small amounts in nature. They are found in man-made processed foods such as shortening, margarine, baked goods, boxed foods, candies, snack foods, fried foods, condiments and salad dressings. Transfats had become more common with the increase of processed foods/
Transfats have been strongly linked to increased LDL (bad) cholesterol and heart disease. They are positively correlated to systematic inflammation in our bodies, which increases our risk for all many of chronic disease. What’s more, some animal studies have linked them to (non-alcoholic) fatty liver disease and scarring on the liver, especially in diets that also contain high amounts simple sugars.
Omega-6 Fats: Next, there’s omega-6 fats, which are necessary in our diets for health in small amounts, but become harmful to health in large amounts. And, since they are found in most every commercially prepared food, they are much too abundant in our diets. The worst of it is that they compete with omega-3 fats to steer our bodies’ production of hormones toward more chronic inflammation and away from reduced chronic inflammation.
Omega-6s are primarily found in plant oils, especially grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, canola oil, and soybean oil (high oleic sunflower, safflower and canola oils are okay with less omega-6s and more omega-9s). They are also found in whole grains, whole grain products, and the meats of animals that are not grazed but fed grains. These fats are widely used in the body and readily absorbed. For the experts who have studied the effects of omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, over-consumptions of omega-6s seems to increase the risk of many diseases including heart attacks, thrombotic stroke, arrhythmia, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, inflammation, mood disorders, obesity, and cancer (especially breast and prostate cancer).
High Fructose Corn Syrup: After diving into current animal studies and research, I for one am convinced that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is an ingredient that does not belong in your diet. Rats fed a HFCS diet, in one particular Princeton study, gained significantly more fat than counterpart rats fed a regular table sugar diet…the calories, nutrients, and activity being equal. HFCS is a cheap, processed, broken-down sweetener that is quickly absorbed and used in our bodies. Since we don’t have to do any “work” to break it down, it travels through our digestive pathways very quickly. And, you guessed it, likely increases insulin reactions which increase fat storage and impede fat loss.
So, why is it okay to use store-bought ketchup? Good question. While many condiments are still cheaply made, consumer demand for simpler, more natural ingredients and products is making some headway. You can now find reasonably priced “natural” and organic ketchups made of only tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices. And, when I find a good condiment, I’m okay with buying it.
When it comes to condiments, be choosey, or head to your kitchen. Look for these specific junk ingredients and avoid them. Many condiments can be made quickly and easily. You’ll feel great eating “clean,” and without junk ingredient you don’t need.