It’s not me… it’s you, ketchup
Growing up, my family did eat much healthier than the average American family. But we still relied consistently on sugar-laden condiments. When I was 5, if you had asked me about the different ethnic food I consumed, I would have reported that I ate the following variety:
- Tex-Mex (ranch dressing)
- All-American (ketchup)
- Southern (barbecue sauce)
- Asian (teriyaki sauce)
These processed sauces all have one thing in common: they’re highly processed! Even natural options are filled with sugar – organic ketchup isn’t any lower in added sugar than regular ketchup.
If you want to transition your family to healthier meals but are stumped in the flavor department, try the following options for easy flavor boosters.
25 Healthy Flavor Boosters
1. Caramelized onions – recipe here – When I want to crank up the flavor and add a deep, caramel sweetness to a dish, I quickly caramelize some onions in ghee or coconut oil. You can make a quick sauce for meats by blending caramelized onions, broth and a pinch of salt.
2. Truffle salt – available here or at gourmet food stores – I recently got desperately hooked on truffle salt. One whiff of this pure umami condiment and there was no going back! I use it on roasted veggies and fish. It also works perfectly with eggs.
3. Mushroom powder – recipe here – Another way to add a quick infusion of umami into any dish? Add a sprinkle of homemade mushroom powder. It adds an amazing layer of savory unctuousness. I love it on vegetables and chicken.
4. Tomato paste – recommended one available here – Tomato paste carries concentrated flavor without all the refined sugar in ketchup. Stir it into stews, soups, and spreads. You can also add a spoonful of it when I’m deglazing a pan to add deeper flavor.
5. Herbamare – available here – This is my favorite seasoning salt, made with a blend of sea salt, garlic, onion, and green herbs (all organic). It seems to compliment all proteins and vegetables. If you eat quinoa, it makes a killer quinoa seasoning.
6. Roasted garlic – recipe here – Roasting garlic tames it’s bitterness and mellows the flavor into a slightly sweet flavor. I love tossing zucchini noodles with a simple sauce of olive oil mashed with roasted garlic. You can also add a few roasted garlic cloves to stews.
7. Grain Free Gravy – recipe here – This is a decadently flavorful gravy made with only ghee/olive oil, onions and broth. I love it on vegetables, meat and seafood.
8. Homemade bone broth – recipe here – If a recipe calls for broth or stock, you can increase the flavor factor a hundred times by using homemade bone broth.
9. Anchovy paste – recommended one available here – If you want to add deep, salty kick, try a small squirt of anchovy paste. It’s a must-have for homemade Caesar dressing.
10. Flavored olive oil – recipe here – To make a flavorful finishing oil, infuse olive oil with your favorite herbs and spices.
11. Coconut aminos – available here – I choose to avoid soy sauce, because I’m not a fan of the anti-nutrient properties of soy. Coconut aminos taste very similar to soy sauce, and I actually find the slightly sweeter flavor preferable.
12. Coconut sugar – available here – The title of this post mentions adding flavor without sugar, and I’m referring to processed sugar and sugar-laden condiments. Coconut sugar makes a much healthier substitute for white sugar in your recipes, and a spoonful can add sweetness and depth to sauces. It has a molasses undertone.
13. Herb + olive oil cubes – recipe here – These are a fabulous way to preserve fresh herbs. Just add a couple of cubes to a stew or soup for instant flavor!
14. Ginger salt – recipe here – This pantry staple in my kitchen is an easy way to add fresh ginger flavor to salads, soups, vegetables and proteins.
15. Cashew sour cream – recipe here – If you are in need of a dairy-free option for finishing soups or mashed potatoes, try homemade cashew sour cream.
16. Refrigerator pickles – recipe here – The recipe couldn’t be simpler or easier! Add to salads and sandwiches.
17. Apple cider vinegar – recommended one available here – Good old apple cider vinegar. I always add a splash to soups and when I deglaze a pan.
18. Balsamic reduction – recipe here – Balsamic reduction makes a killer salad dressing when whisked with olive oil. Also try it drizzled over fresh strawberries… you will be in heaven.
19. Fish sauce – recommended one available here – I love how clean that ingredient list is: just anchovies and salt. It’s instant umami.
20. Smoked sea salt – available here – Where has this been all my life? It’s like adding slow-smoked flavor to meats and vegetables in less than a second!
21. Real Salt seasoning – available here – This is by far the best seasoning salt I’ve ever tasted, made with a blend of Real Salt, onion, spices and herbs. It’s a perfect balance of salty, savory and a hint of sweetness from the onion. It does contain nightshades, however. I can’t use on a regular basis because I’m sensitive to the nightshades.
22. Toasted coconut – recipe here – When sprinkled on both sweet and savory dishes, toasted coconut adds a warm, fragrant, buttery flavor and lovely crunch.
23. Toasted coconut butter – recipe here – Toasted coconut butter is pure divine goodness. Stir it into sauces – especially asian sauces. I like using it instead of peanut butter or almond butter in satay sauce.
24. Pesto – Pesto can nearly always come to the rescue in the flavor department. You can make it with the traditional basil, or a more peppery green such as arugula or dandelion greens. And there is no need to add parmesan cheese if that’s not your thing – just add an extra handful of nuts (cashews, almonds, Brasil nuts, macadamias, pine nuts… the list goes on) in the recipe.
25. Umami gravy – recipe here – Umami is a term for the sixth taste, which is a meaty/savory flavor. Umami gravy is a paleo-friendly sauce which will leave your tastes buds in rapture.
Do you have any other ways to add flavor without processed condiments?