“Real Food” Condiments: Do They Exist?

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….


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  • 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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259 thoughts on ““Real Food” Condiments: Do They Exist?”

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  1. Wondering if you’ve had a look at my Not Ketchup sauces? My Tangerine Hatch Chile Not Ketchup can be used for dipping, grilling, etc. and is made without any added sugar, sweetened only with fruit. I am in the process of transitioning all my sauces to the same kind of formulation (no added sugar, no artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners, sweetened only with fruit) and will be releasing a few more flavors over the summer. Would love for you to see if that might work for your family.

  2. Weird question. If you’re buying mayonnaise and only using it once a month, do you end up having to waste a lot of it because of it going bad?

  3. In January 2015 I began to change my eating to avoid most processed foods, with special attention to cutting out “added sugars” – including those like fruit purees, and agave or brown rice syrup, etc. I was able to find a ketchup (Westbrae brand) without added sugar. Tomatoes have enough sweetness on their own, IMO. (At least, if they are allowed to ripen properly!) I got the Westbrae ketchup at a regional grocery chain called Sprout’s Farmers Market, but I bet they have it at Whole Foods, too.

  4. Ketchup can definitely be found with no added sweetener. I buy an organic version at Whole Foods that is compliant.

  5. HI. I have 1 year old and Im trying to do the best in introducing him to food. Need ideas on store bought snacks for.when we are gong aro un in tráffic. Have plena y of veggie and fruto ideas, but need to know which kind of baby cracker have the best ingredients. Thanks

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi there. We are all out of the baby stage by a few years with our kids. :) Just carefully scrutinize those ingredient lists when you are shopping. Looks for whole grains, few ingredients, and nothing artificial.

  6. I realize this post is originally from 2012 and wondering if you are familiar with Sir Kensington’s mayonnaise? I believe it is fairly new to the market and it is made with sunflower oil. Yummy stuff!!

    1. We can also find organic unsweetened ketchup at the store we shop at. It tastes way better than the more processed stuff. We live in Germany though, so the exact kind we buy isn’t available state side.

  7. I just bought Organic Mayo from Trader Joe’s. Im doing the ten day challenge, but was using the free meal plan 1 from your website and noticed it had egg salad on the schedule. The Trader Joe’s Organic Mayo has no sugar and uses Expeller pressed soybean oil. From what I understand, expeller pressed means it is not refined. Would you say that this Mayo would be okay for the 10 day challenge? There are minimal ingredients.

    Thank you!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Sarah. Technically, Lisa had to give up condiments for her original challenge but you have to decide what will work for you. I wouldn’t allow a mayo to make or break your challenge. :)

  8. Just wanted to mention that Trader Joes Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce is real food (only 3 natural ingredients) is a fabulous alternative to all of the non-real food condiments. We use it on eggs, in burritos, on our whole wheat pizza and sometimes I dip grilled cheese in it for a little kick of spice.

    1. I just wanted to reply, because my name is also Heidi; but also, I might try the sauce I like spicy things, Thanks
      And thanks 100 Days of Real Food for helping to make a yummy difference in our lives!

  9. How long does the organic spectrum brand mayo. (that you buy) last after opened?? I am wondering since it’s organic if it doesn’t last as long and since I think egg is an ingredient. Thank you! Love your blog!

    1. I have been searching for a lower sugar BBQ sauce, and the lowest I’ve found so far is the Dinosaur BBQ Garlic BBQ sauce. It is delicious, and only 5g of sugar per 2 TBSP. The next lowest amount of sugar I have found is 10-12g.

  10. my husband makes homemade mayo and it’s very fluffy.
    1 egg yolk
    1 cup sun flower oil
    1 tbs vinegar (or lemon juice)
    1tbs water
    1tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
    Pinch sea salt

    Whiz with immersion blender. It gets rave reviews.

  11. I am in the health sciences and I can tell you that if you eat raw leafy greens you have a greater chance of getting food borne illness than from a raw egg. I researched it and it is true. I use fresh pastured eggs when I make homemade mayo and it is white fluffy and delicious. I am not sure what recipe you used that was not the same as the jarred stuff but mine is so yummy and no one in my family knows the difference.

  12. I was wondering about soy sauce, which some of your recipes call for. Wheat is one of the main ingredients, unless you buy the gluten-free type that is made with rice. Neither version lists the wheat/rice as 100% whole grain. Are these acceptable real foods?

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Courtney. Lisa typically buys SanJ Organic Tamari soy sauce. Here are the ingredients: Water, Soybeans, Salt, Alcohol. ~Amy

  13. I found a mayo recipe from Nom Nom Paleo cookbook. I gave it a try and it was very yummy. One egg yolk, lemon juice, avocado oil, and salt. Super quick to make. The texture is smooth and creamy. SInce there are no preservatives it will last a week in the fridge. I will never buy store bought mayo again.

  14. HI Lisa,
    I was at Costco the other day and I came across a mayo called Just Mayo by Hampton Creek Foods. They are based out of San Fran. The mayo does not contain raw eggs. The taste is surprisingly good.
    I was wondering if you have heard of it?

    Just Mayo:

    Serving Size 1 Tablespoon (14g)
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 90 Calories from Fat 90
    % Daily Value
    Total Fat 10g 15%
    Saturated Fat 1g 5%
    Trans Fat 0g
    Cholesterol 0mg 0%
    Sodium 80mg 3%
    Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
    Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
    Sugars 0g
    Protein 0g
    Vitamin A 0% Vitamin C 0%
    Calcium 0% Iron 0%
    INGREDIENTS: Non-GMO Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, Filtered Water, Lemon Juice, White Vinegar, 2% or less of the following: Organic Sugar, Salt, Pea Protein, Spices, Modified Food Starch, Beta-Carotene.

  15. Jamie Oliver has a great recipe for homemade ketchup. More than 5 ingredients- a bunch of different veggies, some herbs and spices and a small amount of brown sugar. Totally worth the effort and the recipe makes plenty. Great for gifting!

  16. 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!! :)

  17. 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.

    1. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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/

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. I’m looking for some good salad dressing recipes that fit real food standards. Or store bought suggestions. I meant to look when I was last at Trader Joe’s as we found a lot real food items there but it totally slipped my mind. Thanks!

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Stephanie. Take a little stroll through our recipe index: dev.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-resources/recipe-index/ and you will find several dressings usually paired with a various salad. :)~Amy

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