Its barbecue season and what could be faster, tastier and healthier than
a little something grilled? From tofu and veggies to burgers and dogs, anything on a bun is beloved by our backyard and cottage
culture. You carefully choose the leanest meat and whole grain bun but what you top it with could be a slather of unsuspecting
empty calories. Here is your condiment guide in order of worst to best, choose wisely and slip back into your skinny jeans
come the fall. Heed not and risk looking like the sausage yourself.
Worst to Best Burger Toppers
5. Mayonnaise or anything made with mayonnaise
All commercial mayos are made by thickening some kind of liquid fat into
a solid. Either the traditional whipping of oil into eggs is used or the lower fat treatment of using a corn or seaweed derived
thickener, the concept is still the same:fat. Delicious, creamy fat that will cost you about 100 calories per tablespoon
no matter which brand you buy. Tartar Sauces and "sandwich spreads" are no better; they deliver no nutrients and
too many calories. If you simply must have your mayo opt for President's Choice Blue Menu or Hellmann's Half the Fat because
either will cut your calories down to half. Heed this, though, even then, they are more caloric than the next worst spoonful.
(Yogurt makes a decent substitute)
4. Barbecue Sauce
This bold bounce to your bun
packs a punch but most formulations begin with sugar and water. Mixing in a proprietary blend of tomato sauce and spices makes
each version a flavor all its own and everyone has their favorite. Offering almost no nutritional value for its 300-400 mg
of sodium (almost 1/3 of a healthy day's dose) in 1 tablespoon is a crime before you even consider the 30-40 calories. There
is one on the shelf that provides the taste without all the calories and that's Kraft calorie wise at a decent 10 calories
per tablespoon. (It uses more water and corn-thickeners to reduce the load but keep the consistency) You don't get a break
on the salt, though.
by children and loved by all as the condiment of choice for just about everything. Ketchup takes the middle spot for the
fact that it relies upon one of earth's healthiest vegetables. Albeit, this is a high salt, high sugar way to get that vegetable,
but still. Most formulations do start with tomatoes or tomato paste that is thinned down with vinegar and water and seasoned
up with salt, spices and sugar. The top few brands weigh in at about 20-25 calories per tablespoon delivering about 10-15
% of your healthy day's amount of salt. The No Name brand is a little lower though the formulation looks about the same so
expect it to be a little thinner (higher in water). Heinz has a low sodium version that will save about half the sodium and
PC blue menu has one that uses sucralose to reduce the sugar. Even with the "improvements" this red spoonful is
still middling at best.
Now we are
moving to the better side of the bun. Not all relish is created equal; you can still stumble if you choose sweet green, zucchini
or chili. All offer little nutritional benefit and about 15-25 calories per tablespoon which is about the same as ketchup.
But there is a rising star here that can deliver huge taste for a mere 4 calories per tablespoon: Bick's Dill Relish is the
pick of pack. It does dose with the same kind of sodium found above but for much fewer calories in the end.
Best in Class!
All you have to do is avoid the honey mustards and mustard blends and you can't go wrong.
Each and every mustard on the shelf is lower in calories than anything else you are going to squeeze on your dog. And they
are little super heros packing much more than they seem. Made from mustard seed which is a high anti-oxidant spice that has
anti-inflammatory properties. If it is colored at all it is usually with trace amounts of turmeric which is another potent
anti-cancer spice. Rarely made with sugar (thus the "avoid the honeyed versions" note) and only mixed with vinegar
and very little salt it offer zing for a caloric pittance. There are some outstanding gourmet formulations on the market that are truly worth trying but even the cheapest brand of yellow ballpark mustard is worth adding.
THERESA ALBERT, DHN, RNCP, is a registered nutritional consulting
practitioner with a busy private practice in Toronto. Her new book Ace Your Health: 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck (McClelland
& Stewart) is a fun, practical guide to making healthy, weekly changes for improved health using morsels of
information and tasty, healthy recipes. Her television show "Just One Bite" aired on the Food Network for over two
years in a daily time slot and introduced her energetic style to millions. She is also the author of Cook Once a Week,
Eat Well Every Day. Theresa is a recognizable news media and online face as a resource for consumers and marketers who
seek to remove the bologna from their lunchboxes and their news. She prepares a free weekly newsletter to make you laugh,
eat well and be inspired www.myfriendinfood.com