Oftentimes the things we miss the most from our previous diets are not so much the bread, pastries or breakfast cereals, but rather the small and flavorful additions that we know of as condiments. I’m talking here of the most popular mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, pickled cucumber relish, horseradish, barbecue sauce and Worcestershire sauce. I already dedicated a post on making homemade mayonnaise, but the other condiments deserve their place as well and can be perfectly healthy paleo additions, as long as no nasty ingredients are added. After all, condiments like mustard and tomato based sauces like ketchup have been around for a long time, back when traditional food was all that was available. Traditionally prepared relish and horseradish, for their part, are probably even healthier additions because they are naturally fermented, thus are a good source of probiotics.
Of course, one of the learned pleasures of the Paleo diet is to appreciate food on its own, without a gazillion sugary flavors, but healthy condiments can still bring about the appreciated tangy and spicy tastes to your meals, without much, if any, drawbacks.
Of course, tomatoes are still a member of the nightshade family and mustard is made out of a seed and those two things can still bring about problems for those with a damaged gut or autoimmune disease, but they should not be a problem otherwise. The recipes included here are all sugar-free and grain-free of course.
The other possible drawback is that preparing those condiments will require much more time and planning than simply going out and buying a bottle at the grocery store. On the bright side, once you’ll get a grasp of the basic recipes, it can become a routine and you’ll know you’re eating great, healthy and wholesome food. You can also decide to prepare bigger batches of some of the condiments so you don’t end up making new batches over and over again.
You’re also invited to play around and to try out new ways to enjoy those condiments. Mixing mayonnaise with ketchup or mustard, for example, creates a whole new and tasty sauce.
Mustard and ketchup are great with grass-fed bison or beef, especially in the case of a paleo burger, served without the bun. Mustard is also a great addition to your vinaigrettes and salad dressings and goes hand in hand with cold slices of pork roast. Try ketchup on your eggs, either if they are in the form of an omelet, scrambled or fried to your liking and you’ll probably never go back.
Enjoy BBQ sauce on almost any kind of meat you happen to eat. BBQ sauce, mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce are also often used during the cooking process. Pork ribs cooked with BBQ sauce, meatloaf cooked with ketchup and pork tenderloin cooked with mustard are three classic examples.
This is a simple and quick ketchup recipe for the times when you want to prepare the condiment, but are in a rush or don’t have all the ingredients to prepare the more elaborate ketchup recipe presented below. This one is also very easy to prepare. The typical recipe calls for some sugar, but a sugar-free version tastes just as good and a little bit more tangy. This recipe yields 1.5 cups.
This is more like a traditional homemade ketchup that we would have seen on kitchen tables a couple of decades ago. It requires a lot of ingredients, but the taste is well worth the trouble. This recipe yields about 2 cups, but don’t be scared to prepare a larger batch, because I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to be popular in your kitchen.
There are many ways to prepare mustard, but the basis is most of the time either mustard powder or mustard seeds. The popular French mustard with the seeds still in is usually called whole-grain mustard, even though it’s not a grain, but a seed. The easiest mustard to prepare is a basic mustard made with mustard powder and water. Other mustards, like Dijon and whole-grain mustard, will take more preparation time as the seeds have to soak and the mustard should sit for a few days for the flavors to develop. The seeds are often soaked in white wine for an even deeper flavor.
Prepared mustard will last for about a month and can be kept out of the refrigerator, but refrigeration stops the heat from developing further. A good idea is to refrigerate your mustard when the desired heat is achieved. Homemade mustards won’t be as bright yellow as a store bought mustard, but a bit of added turmeric will do the trick to obtain the same bright color.
This is a very basic mustard recipe that can be prepared on demand when you feel like having some mustard. It only takes 1 part water to 1 part mustard powder and you’ll get a nice and hot mustard. Let it stand a for bit and the heat will reduce. You can play around with the seasoning and use different herbs and spices to create different versions. Vinegars or lemon juice will also add a pleasant tanginess.
Feel free to play around with this recipe by adding any of your favorite fresh herb. Sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil are excellent additions.
A relish is usually a preparation of fermented fruits or vegetables used as a condiment. All kinds of relishes can be prepared, but the cucumber relish is probably the most well known. Origination from Sweden, it’s traditionally called Bostongurka, or Boston cucumber. Most store bought relishes use vinegar for pickling, but this traditional recipe uses lacto-fermentation to create the acidic taste and probiotic value of that food. Bubbies is a popular brand available in most health food stores that sales the real unpasteurized cucumber relish.
The most popular additional flavors used in cucumber relish are dill, garlic and mustard seeds. The following recipe uses fresh dill. You can use a vegetable starter culture like those available at Cultures for health to ensure success of the lacto-fermentation, but I find that simply using sea salt yields great results.
Horseradish is the name of a root vegetable of the brassica family used to prepare a horseradish condiment often simply called horseradish or prepared horseradish. It has a quite pungent and hot taste and goes well with roasted red meat or mixed in some mayonnaise.
Today most prepared horseradish is made with vinegar, but the traditionally prepared horseradish is lacto-fermented like sauerkraut. This makes for a very healthy probiotic condiment that will last for months in the refrigerator.
This is the simplest of recipes and it’s quick to prepare. While it won’t feature the same deep and fuzzy flavor as the traditionally prepared and fermented horseradish, it’s still great.
This is a nice twist on the basic horseradish and you’ll often see the beet horseradish variation in stores, featuring a bright red color.
This is the recipe for the real traditional horseradish. This one requires between 3 and 7 days of fermentation, but it’s a nice experiment to try with the little ones and it will give you a wonderful and pungent probiotic condiment. You will also need a vegetable starter culture of some kind for the fermentation process to happen. Most health food stores will carry them, but you can also get a starter online at Cultures for Health. Caldwell and Body Ecology are good brands. These starters contain specific strains of bacteria that are especially suited for vegetable fermentation. You’ll be able to use them for all your vegetable fermentation needs. Fresh whey can also be used as the starter. This recipe yields 1 cup horseradish.
This BBQ sauce will require even more involvement than most of the other condiments because it calls for homemade mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. I think the best way to tackle it is to prepare BBQ sauce only when you already have those other condiments handy or if you decide to make a batch of all of those condiments all at once. It can become part of your weekly ritual to prepare some of the weekly paleo food on a given day and to prepare some of the condiments at the same time.
This sauce has a nice smoky flavor, thanks to the smoked paprika, and will go well with your barbecued meat or simply as a side condiment with beef, pork or chicken. Unlike most barbecue sauces you’ll find, this one doesn’t use any sugar.
This sauce is traditionally a fermented sauce using anchovies, but the traditional recipe also calls for molasses and some hard to find ingredients. This simpler recipe contains perfectly healthy ingredients, apart from the bit of soy sauce used, which shouldn’t be a problem in such a small quantity.
P.S. Be sure to check out the Paleo Recipe Book. It’s a cookbook I’ve created to help you cook the best food for your health. It contains over 370 Paleo recipes and covers absolutely everything you’ll ever need.