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Elizabeth Street


Help! My Kids Are Addicted to Ketchup

Nov 06, 2013

Help! My Kids Are Addicted to Ketchup

My kids are good eaters. They love fish, chicken, beef, rice, pasta, and even vegetables. But their varied palate comes with a very large caveat: pink sauce. A few years ago, inspired by the special sauce at fast food joints like Burger King (it's probably never a good idea to be inspired by the culinary fare at a drive-thru spot, but there you go), I mixed ketchup and mayonnaise together and presented it to my children as "pink sauce." A new breed of condiment was born, and it has since become a staple on our table. 

There are benefits; namely, that my kids will eat just about anything, as long as it's accompanied by pink sauce. But it's become a requirement. In fact, this summer, I started carrying around packets of mayo and ketchup, just in case we were out and about and we needed a fix.

But I've become concerned as we've started to go through untold amounts of mayonnaise. As someone who is really starting to pay attention to what's in our food and our household cleaning products, the thought of consuming large amounts of soybean oil concerns me. I reached out to a few experts for their take on my condiment crisis. 

Dr. JJ Levenstein said that there are two things to consider: the sugar in ketchup and the transfats in mayonnaise. Opt for ketchup that is made without high-fructose corn syrup and choose the varieties where sugar (in any form) isn't the first ingredient. Dr. JJ suggested to start mixing in a little marinara or salsa, both of which have minimal ingredients and are healthier options. "As far as mayonnaise is concerned, there are varieties made with olive oil, rather than vegetable oil, so you can avoid the transfats. The key is volume--less is better. A reasonable substitute is fat-free yogurt mixed with a little dried ranch dressing mix," said Dr. Levenstein. 

In a perfect world, I'd make my own condiments for both the nutritional and cost benefits. Until then, we will be switching to organic brands of ketchup and mayonnaise. And observing that golden rule, "everything in moderation." After all, condiments should be just an accent, rather than a vehicle for food. 

Want to try your hand at making your own mayo? Check out the video below.

By Christina Anderson

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