“Real Food” Condiments: Do They Exist?

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I get a lot of questions about condiments. And surprisingly enough, condiments were one of the things I missed the most during our “100 Days of Real Food” pledge. They are like the little things you don’t pay much attention to until they’re suddenly gone. So in an effort to answer everyone’s questions in one spot, including what’s real and what’s not and what we use now that our pledge is over, here’s the deal….


  • First of all, just about all store-bought mayo’s are made with refined oils (like canola oil) even if it says something catchy on the front like “made with olive oil.” Just read the ingredients and you’ll see what I am talking about. And regardless of the oils that are used there are no easy-to-find brands (to my knowledge) that contain 5 or less ingredients, which was one of our real food pledge rules.
  • Secondly, you can certainly make homemade mayonnaise yourself, but I am going to tell you right now that it won’t be the same fluffy white stuff you buy from the store. I’ve decided that homemade mayo and store-bought mayo are just two completely different products and – right or wrong – I like and prefer the white fluffy stuff.

What’s the solution?

  • You can try to make homemade mayo using unrefined oils and pastured eggs, but most recipes call for raw eggs. I am still on the fence about giving uncooked eggs to my kids so after a few different “cooked egg” mayonnaise failures I honestly just gave up on it. So during our 100-day pledge we basically abstained from mayonnaise all together…gasp!
  • Some people successfully substitute plain Greek yogurt for mayo in recipes like egg salad and chicken salad, but I am just being honest here…I’ve tried it and I am not sold on the idea.
  • Now that our strict 100-day pledge is over we just buy a minimally processed (meaning: small number of ingredients) organic mayonnaise from the store. Yes, it’s the organic Spectrum brand that says “made with olive oil” even though I know it also contains highly refined canola oil, but occasionally convenience wins around here. With that being said we use the store-bought stuff in great moderation (probably only once a month in dishes like egg salad).


  • There is no such thing as “ketchup” without added sweeteners…that’s unfortunately (fortunately?) just what ketchup is.
  • There seem to be all sorts of ketchup options these days – both organic and conventional – that are sweetened with everything from high-fructose corn syrup to sugar to agave nectar. First of all, we don’t use agave (more on that another day), but secondly just because the added sweetener appears to be less refined than white sugar please remember that “added sugar is added sugar” and all should be consumed in moderation. And just because we like to use honey and maple syrup (since they are minimally processed and contain trace nutrients) that unfortunately doesn’t give us the green light to turn up the bottle. Bottom line: Sugar is sugar and too much of it is a bad thing.

What’s the solution?

  • Clearly you can simply reduce your consumption of ketchup. I know some parents say their kids love to dip anything and everything in ketchup so if that’s the case I would recommend introducing some new and different “real food” dips like hummus, homemade ranch, or even organic low-sodium soy sauce. Just remember even though this condiment may seem innocent ketchup is basically 2 parts tomato/spices and 1 part sugar. That means for every tablespoon of ketchup you eat you are consuming one teaspoon of sugar (yikes!).
  • During our 100-day pledge we tried making homemade ketchup with honey (because honey was one of our “allowed” sweeteners), but frankly the end result wasn’t all that great. So now we just buy store-bought organic ketchup made with sugar, and just like I mentioned above with the mayo, we use it in great moderation (probably about once or twice a month).

Barbeque Sauce

  • I hate to break it to you, but just like ketchup pretty much all tomato based BBQ sauces contain added sweeteners. And even if you make your own homemade BBQ sauce, which I highly recommend over the store-bought stuff, most call for ketchup as an ingredient.

What’s the solution?

  • I may sound like a broken record, but due to the added sweetener issue (see ketchup explanation above) it’s best to simply reduce your overall consumption of BBQ sauce.
  • We didn’t have BBQ sauce at all during our 100-day pledge, but I think if I tried hard enough I could probably come up with a pretty decent honey version that doesn’t contain refined sugar. I was never so creative during our pledge though so once we had BBQ sauce again after not having it for so long – I am not gonna lie – it was awesome.


  • After all that bad news here is the good news…there are actually quite a few “real food” store-bought mustards out there! Several organic yellow and Dijon mustard brands simply contain vinegar, mustard seed, and spices, which is all pretty innocent stuff.


Please feel free to share your “real food” condiment tips and recipes in the comments below!

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219 comments to “Real Food” Condiments: Do They Exist?

  • NuMommy

    I basically make all my own condiments except ketchup (I buy organic made with sugar instead of HFCS after failing when trying to make my own), mustard, and Mayo (I only use it for a recipes like crab cakes, carrot raisin salad, chicken and tuna salad, which requires on a bit)

    My favorite condiment to make is cocktail sauce! It’s so simple and tastes FANTASTIC. Sorry I don’t do measurements but it’s so easy to figure out, you can’t go wrong

    Organic Ketchup
    Horseradish to taste
    a squeeze of lemon

    That’s it. I make it and take with me when we go out to eat where I know I’ll be ordering shrimp.

  • [...] foods: tuna salad, which I made with plain yogurt instead of mayo.  I picked that tip up at 100 Days of Real Food and it tasted great, although O wasn’t too fond of it.  She also ate kale, folded up in [...]

  • Carrisa

    I’ve found when making homemade mayo, that by adding 3-4 TBS of bacon grease into the blender with the rest of the mayo, that it turns out fluffy like store-bought.

  • Amanda

    As far as BBQ sauce goes, I thought I’d steer you in the direction of a recipe that doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners. I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s on my list: civilizedcavemancooking.com/condimentssauces/beasty-bbq-sauce/

  • Carol Sama

    I make my own barbecue sauce from 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of one of these: brown sugar, maple syrup or honey, and whatever seasoning we are in the mood for such as black pepper, garlic, dried basil, chili powder or chili flakes. It’s great! We rarely use ketchup but will on a burger.

  • Audra

    Just a heads up… this is an EXCELLENT BBQ sauce that uses molasses and honey. This is our go-to recipe if we are in need of BBQ sauce. Yum! http://www.thegraciouspantry.com/clean-eating-bbq-sauce/

  • Kimberly

    There is a BBQ sauce that is vinegar based with spices called Whicker ( the regular not thi thicker) that is very good on pork and chicken. It has no sugar, corn syrup or ketchup. Great with ribs!

  • Bridget

    I make homemade honey mustard sauce when I have a craving for it. It’s super easy. Sorry, I don’t really measure, I just estimate and add to taste, usually almost equal parts of each, give or take.


    Mayo is the key here to making it taste like the regular old honey mustard we all know and love.

  • Ericka

    For barbecue, personally I like a vinegar based barbecue rather than a ketchup tomato based sauce which is most of the time easier to follow a clean, real food diet!

  • Stephani

    So excited that just about every time I have a question, you’ve already addressed it. I’m still in the research stage of this, and we’re reading labels. I’m hoping after the first of the year to begin the transition to a more real food diet. I’m surprised by some of the stuff I end up eating. Yuck. Thanks for this post. I’m not sure what the end result will look like, but I’m excited to be eating more real food.

  • I buy pasteurized eggs, then I don’t worry about the raw part.

  • Sarah

    For making your own mayonnaise they sell pasteurized in shell raw eggs that they use in old folks homes to reduce the risk of salmonella. The risk is still not 0 but is significantly reduced from non-pasteurized. The thing you would not like is they are not organic pasture raised eggs.
    There is a trick to make homemade mayo that tastes just like store bought, all you need is a stick blender, a cup and a normal recipe (1egg yolk, 1 cup oil, lemon juice, salt) put everything in the cup and stick the stick blender in the bottom turn it on and slowly raise up. the emulsion will form and because it’s mixed so fast it’s super thick.

  • Linda

    I use the spectrum mayo because when I had to clean up my husbands diet I was making literally everything and refused to make mayo too! We use the same ketchup. I make my own BBQ sauce and I use Heinz mustard because I can recognize all the ingredients.

    • Brittany

      Mayo is the easiest thing ever to make if you have an immersion blender (stick blender) in case you ever want to try. It takes less than a minute and is so tasty.

  • […] tried making chicken salad all different ways (even using the dreaded processed store bought mayo), and my older daughter has always claimed that she “doesn’t like chicken salad.” […]

  • Brittany

    Homemade mayo is 10000% tastier and healthier than store-bought IMHO :)

  • Tahnee

    Have you tried Vegenaise/NO SOY brand? It’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, soy free and NON_GMO and made with expeller-pressed high-oleic safflower oil, filtered water, brown rice syrup, apple cider, pea protein, sea salt, mustard flour, lemon juice concentrate. You get it in the refrigerated section of health food or healthy section grocery stores. It is really pretty good. Similar to Best Foods/Hellmans. They have a few different formulations such as Grapeseed and regular mayo (contains soy and canola I think.) Give it a try!! :)

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