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5 Spot: 5 healthier alternatives to common condiments

FARGO – When counting calories and watching sugar intake, it can be easy to overlook condiments. But those dips and toppings can be loaded with what you might be trying to avoid.

Here are five healthier alternatives to popular condiments:


Ketchup contains 20 calories, 4 grams of sugar, and 160 milligrams of sodium per tablespoon. It’s also made with high fructose corn syrup and natural flavoring, an ambiguous term often used to mean a plant or animal derivative used for flavoring rather than nutrition.

In a recent newsletter, Team Beachbody (a fitness support team connected with Beachbody, which sells fitness videos and supplements) offered recipes for healthier versions of popular condiments.

The homemade ketchup has 18 calories, 3 grams of sugar, and 7 milligrams of sodium in a 2-tablespoon serving.

Homemade ketchup

To make it, heat 1 15-ounce can of organic tomato sauce with no sugar or salt added, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or pure maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat; cover. Cool to room temperature.

Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours.


I love tuna sandwiches, but I never feel good about the mayo I use to make them. It also contains preservatives, “natural flavors,” and it has 90 calories in a 1 tablespoon serving.

I recently read an email from My Fitness Pal (a calorie-tracking app) that recommended replacing mayo with avocado for added flavor, creaminess and healthy fats.

There are 234 calories and 21 grams of fat in 1 cup of sliced avocado, but according to WebMD, more than half of that is heart-healthy unsaturated fat. Avocados are also a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and K, folate, and B6.

Avocado is also a nice alternative for topping burgers.

Ranch dressing

Team Beachbody also had a healthier version of ranch dressing, which I think my son would dip everything into if I would let him.

Ranch dressing typically contains artificial flavors, preservatives, 140 calories, 14 grams of fat, 260 milligrams of sodium and 1 gram of sugar in a 2-tablespoon serving.

Team Beachbody’s homemade version has 2 grams of fat, 2 grams of sugar, and 89 milligrams of sodium in a 2-tablespoon serving.

Homemade ranch dressing

Combine 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt with 1/3 cup low-fat buttermilk and 1 tablespoon ranch seasoning blend. Mix well.

To make the seasoning blend, pulse the following ingredients in a food processor until well mixed:

2 tablespoons dried parsley, crushed

2 teaspoons dried onion flakes

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1½ teaspoons dried dill

1½ teaspoons dried cloves

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Thousand island dressing

Another great recipe from Team Beachbody is for a healthier Thousand Island dressing. The condiment typical has 130 calories, 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of sugar, and 290 milligrams of sodium in a 2-tablespoon serving. It also contains soybean oil, aluminum sulfate, natural flavor, additives and preservatives.

This homemade version contains 72 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar, and 67 milligrams of sodium in a 2 tablespoon serving. And a bonus, I didn’t have to Google any of the ingredients to find out what they were.

(Note: If you use a store-bought mayo, you will be adding preservatives and natural flavors to your dressing. Try making your own.)

Homemade thousand island dressing

1/3 cup olive oil mayonnaise

2 tablespoons organic tomato sauce, no salt or sugar added

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

¼ cup water

Place mayonnaise, tomato sauce, lemon juice, onion, pickle relish, parley and water in a blender; cover. Blend until desired consistency. Refrigerate, covered, for at least two hours.


If you’re going to coat your food in sugar, opt for one that at least has some nutritional benefits.

Aunt Jemima Original Syrup, for example, contains high fructose corn syrup, artificial and natural flavors, and preservatives, whereas pure maple syrup is just that.

It also contains vitamins and minerals like manganese, riboflavin,and zinc, according to

Still, pure maple syrup is mainly sugar, so use it sparingly (and don’t consider it “healthy”).

Pure maple syrup contains 217 calories and 54 grams of sugar in ¼ cup. Aunt Jemima’s contains 210 calories and 32 grams of sugar in ¼ cup.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tracy Frank at (701) 241-5526

Tracy Frank

Tracy Frank is a SheSays, Variety, and Farmer's Forum reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

(701) 241-5526