I had an epiphany the other day. I had bought one of those jumbo-sized ketchup bottles from the grocery store, and it was time to use it for a recipe. Although I am a stickler for reading labels and ingredients (ask any of my friends how annoying this is), I have a “get out of jail free” pass for some of my life’s staples–the kind of things that I know are not good for me, but I figure there’s nothing else to use as an alternative. So, although I had read the label for this ketchup many times before, it wasn’t until the other day that I read it and I felt nervous. I use a LOT of ketchup. I use it on my burgers, I use it in recipes, I love it. But ketchup has a lot of crap in it. It has high fructose corn syrup and preservatives that make it able to stay on the shelf for months at a time. These are ingredients that I’m putting into my body and making it a less refined machine. I then realized that even if I’m hyper aware of all the other aspects of my diet, but still let some foods go, I’m not doing my health any favors. I am always so insistent on making my meals from scratch and from fresh, organic, local ingredients–shouldn’t I be the same way with something as simple as condiments?
I made my announcement to Craig later that day: we had bought our last bottles of ketchup, mayonnaise, yellow mustard, and salad dressings. We were going to start making all of our condiments from scratch. I told him that I wanted more control of what we put into our food, and also in our bodies–and he was totally on board.
I already make our own Caesar dressing from scratch with a favorite recipe, but the other things that are going to come up will take research, practice, and patience. I am most nervous about finding a solid, delicious ranch dressing recipe (my most beloved condiment of all). Of course, Sriracha is the only condiment that can be bought (until I magically find a way to make it myself, although that is doubtful).
Today was my chance to either start my new habit or commit to another bottle of pre-packaged crap–we were out of mayonnaise, and y’all, I love me some sammiches.
Depending on what brand you buy, mayo doesn’t contain the most awful ingredients you can find. I’ve always wondered how a product containing eggs can withstand such a long shelf life, but nonetheless, I’ve trusted it for years. Although my regular brand of mayonnaise doesn’t contain a lot of icky preservatives, look at what a jug of Hellman’s Real Mayo will contain (information courtesy http://www.labelwatch.com):
- 2 large eggs (we get fresh farm eggs from one of Craig’s co-workers…I highly recommend using only fresh, local eggs. Your life will be changed!)
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard (I used Koops Stone Ground…I didn’t make it myself, but it is gluten free!)
- 2 cups neutral flavored oil (I used canola)
- 1/2 lemon, for the juice
- Kosher salt & ground pepper to taste