Choosing Condiments Wisely

Check out my latest article published in the Temple News.

Condiments Present Healthy Eating Decisions

If you frequented the Philadelphia Phillies’ Dollar Dog Day this past season or you simply eat a lot of hotdogs and hamburgers because they’re quick and easy – a combination that appeals to most busy college students – you may want to consider what you’re loading on your burgers and dogs. Picture 12

Piling on the condiments can certainly jazz up a cheap burger or dog, but it can also lead to an additional pile of empty, unneeded calories on your diet.

Whether selecting condiments for a burger, sandwich or vegetables, be careful which ones you choose. Use these guidelines when you’re dining out and about in Philadelphia – or simply at a Main Campus dining hall – to help you add flavor without excessive calories.

Ketchup Vs. Mustard

While neither ketchup nor mustard packs an alarming amount of calories, mustard is the healthier choice. Comparing calories, mustards have little to none, while ketchups can contain 20 calories per tablespoon. Ketchup also has a significant amount of sugar, whereas mustard doesn’t have any. Also, those who are fans of ketchup tend to use it often.

“I use it on everything and almost always use at least a couple tablespoons,” Deirdre Kurtz, a sophomore international business major, said. “I know it’s filled with a lot of sugar and high fructose corn syrup, so I’ve been trying to use less on certain things, such as scrambled eggs, but I love it.”

Mustard’s flavor is stronger, and although both ketchup and mustard have a significant amount of sodium per tablespoon, mustard’s strong flavor tends to keep it from being overused. Try experimenting with mustard’s wide variety of flavors, such as Dijon or honey.

If you simply can’t skip the ketchup, squirt smaller amounts, so you won’t end up consuming excessive amounts. Also, opt for organic ketchup to eliminate high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient that has been linked to obesity.

Magnify Your Mayo
Mayonnaise is one of the key condiments to watch out for. Typically containing 100 calories per tablespoon and a whole lot of fat, mayonnaise certainly isn’t a healthy addition.

Rather than succumb to eating sandwiches on dry, tasteless bread, simply switch to a low-fat variety. Many brands now offer low-fat or light varieties, which generally contain less than half the fat and calories of the original versions. The popular brand Hellmann’s offers both light and low-fat mayonnaise. The light version contains just 35 calories per tablespoon and only 3.5 grams of fat, and the low-fat version contains a mere 15 calories and one gram of fat per tablespoon.

The tastes are relatively similar, making it an easy switch. For an even healthier option, replace the mayonnaise altogether with either olive oil or plain, low-fat Greek yogurt. Simply drizzling olive oil and some salt and pepper on each inner side of your sandwich bread will moisten the bread and add flavor. Similarly, yogurt can be used when making a sandwich. Or, try lightening a recipe, such as potato salad, by using half the mayonnaise.

No Cheese, Please
Adding cheese to any sandwich, hamburger or hot dog will undoubtedly add a great deal of calories. Cheese tends to be high in fat, considering just one slice typically has 10 percent of your daily fat.

Velveeta cheese sauce, which is offered at places like 7-Eleven, isn’t very healthy either. Dipping your broccoli in Velveeta cheese sauce or squirting it on your hot dog will cost you 85 calories per ounce, along with a substantial amount of artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol.

According to the Food Network’s Web site, an ounce of cheese is about the size of your thumb, meaning that when you use cheese as a condiment, most likely you’re consuming more than just one ounce. Instead of cheese, load vegetables onto sandwiches, and choose healthier condiments for burgers and dogs. If you’re a fan of broccoli and cheese, instead try dipping your broccoli into low-fat dressing, or skip the dipping all together and sauté it with some olive oil and garlic.

Slimmer Salad Dressings
A good rule of thumb for salad dressings is to generally skip the creamy ones, which tend to be higher in both fat and calories. Stick to the vinaigrettes or low-fat varieties. To really know what’s going into your dressing, try whipping up some of your own.

For an easy salad dressing recipe, combine two parts olive oil to one part of an acidic ingredient, such as vinegar or lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Experiment by adding honey, hot sauce or herbs if desired. By making your own olive oil-based dressing, you can cut back on artificial processing and calorie-heavy ingredients and incorporate some heart-healthy fats into your diet.

Embellish with Relish
Relish is a safe bet when it comes to seasoning your food. Relish contains around 15 calories per tablespoon, and a little can go a long way. Pickles, which are virtually calorie-less, are also a good topping. But don’t go overboard: Both are salt-heavy if eaten in large amounts.

While hamburgers and hot dogs aren’t the healthiest choices, adding certain condiments can make them even worse. Also, many condiments can turn a healthy meal into a meal full of fat and calories. Try to stay mindful when choosing condiments to season your food.

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  • Reply
    Choosing Condiments Wisely « Food-Fitness-FreshAir |
    December 27, 2009 at 8:18 am

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  • Reply
    Simply Life
    December 27, 2009 at 8:35 am

    this is great to know! I’ve recently just started making my own dressings and never knew how simple it can be – not to mention healthier, cheaper and environmentally friendly 🙂

  • Reply
    December 27, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Katchup calories add up quickly and packs quite a bit. I know because as an RD I have done some diet recals and found some way excess kcals from this. Mustard provides none. When it comes to catchup people use way mroe than the serving size, and so it is really user error, not that each serving has tons of kcals in it. The problem then with mustard is the sodium. No kcals, lots of darn sodium. Again, people way over do it with the portions. I do make my own dressing at home, and I totally have one of those containers with the spinning thing inside to mix up the oil and vinegar and other stuff before drizzling on. I make a nice dressing using an olive mustard, cumin, cidar vinegar and olive oil. Thanks for your great post on the battle between the condiments, AKA side by side comparisons.

  • Reply
    December 27, 2009 at 9:29 am

    great post!! until recently-i NEVER thought about ketchup having calories..weird bc most people dont think about that
    however-no sandwich is complete for me without cheese.. haha

  • Reply
    December 27, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Great points! I love ketchup and really have to watch i!!! Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  • Reply
    December 27, 2009 at 11:39 am

    haha, i guess i avoid this problem by not eating hot dogs, which have nitrates and all sorts of nasty things in them to start with. i rarely use condiments. maybe mustard, and the main concern there is sodium.

  • Reply
    December 27, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    its amazing what a condiment can do to ruin a perfectly healthy meal! thank you for this! I acutally am not a fan of ketchup so we are all good there! but LOVE mustard!! 🙂 just be carfeul with it bc of the sodium 🙂

  • Reply
    December 27, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    I heart condiments! Of alllll kinds lol

  • Reply
    December 27, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Very nice post and kudo to the interesting comment, i also subscribed your RSS feeds for more updates.

  • Reply
    Jenna @ Health and Happiness
    December 27, 2009 at 11:21 pm

    Very good post! I was just toying with the idea of writing about homemade salad dressings for a healthier alternative. Olive oil with balsamic vinegar and minced basil is a favorite of mine along with olive oil, vinegar,cilantro, lemon and lime juice with a splash of oj for a cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Yum! Can’t wait to read more!

  • Reply
    December 28, 2009 at 1:24 am

    Great post! I’m so glad that I don’t care for ketchup, mayo or cheese but I love sweet relish! I’ve been making my own salad dressing for over a year now. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Reply
    metabolism food
    December 28, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    its genius,
    keep share guys

  • Reply
    December 28, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    I love me some condiments too.. 🙁
    I am a HFCS avoider, so when I found out regular old ketchup had it… grrrr.

    BUT, for this reason (your entire post) I tend to stick to salsas, tabasco, nut butter, etc. Pretty simple ingredients and either very low in cals,orrr very high in healthy fats!

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