Are Paleo Condiments Possible?
Are Paleo condiments possible? The Paleo diet is a plan based on eating foods that ancient humans would have eaten before the widespread adoption of farming and domestication. Paleo is also referred to as the “hunter-gatherer diet” or “caveman diet” for this reason. The diet emphasizes eating unprocessed foods like fibrous vegetables, fresh fruits, nuts, seeds, lean meats, and fish. Our paleolithic ancestors weren't smothering their mammoth meat with blue cheese dressing. But does that mean that the Paleo diet can’t have condiments? We took a look at the possibilities of Paleo condiments.
There’s no hard and fast set of rules to determine what is and isn’t Paleo. While the Paleo plan originated from a couple of specific books, the modern Paleo movement consists of countless diet plans with their own rules and regulations. The key phrase that many Paleo plans use is “if a caveman didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either." Even that definition has its issues. There's no reliable record of what Paleolithic humans ate. Furthermore, scholars have pointed out that Paleolithic peoples had a wide variety of diets based on their geography.
What's a condiment?
When considering what condiments are Paleo, we need to re-examine what defines a condiment. As a term, condiment refers to any sauce, spice, or preparation that is added to a food or dish after it has been cooked. Condiments are used to change or add flavor (and sometimes texture) to a dish. Under this definition, it’s easy to say yes, there are Paleo condiments. Salt, honey, lemon juice, and diced hot peppers all fit into this category. In fact, any spice or dried herb that hasn’t been mixed with added sugar or preservatives would be considered a Paleo condiment.
Of course, there are plenty of Paleo-friendly brands that sell bottled condiments that you can buy. Paleo ketchup, Paleo mustard, and Paleo mayo seem to be the most common. While these may not have modern preservatives or fructose, it’s arguable that any store-bought sauce is going to have been prepared in a way that our Paleolithic ancestors wouldn’t have access to. Depending on how dedicated you are to Paleo, that might be enough to disqualify these condiments from your allowed list.
Homemade Paleo condiments:
Many Paleo people prefer to make their condiments at home rather than deal with the store-bought shuffle. With hidden ingredients or sneaky calories, those bottle brands bring their own unique challenges. Why not try making your own Paleo ketchup from scratch instead?
Unless you’re dogmatic about your Paleo plan, there are plenty of options for adding flavor to your foods. Some naturally occurring condiments, particularly spices, are going to be Paleo by anyone’s account. Others like Paleo mayo might be acceptable by ingredient standards, but against the “spirit” of Paleo. When deciding what foods get to be a part of your Paleo Diet plan, remember that even the founders of the Paleo diet encourage some non-Paleo allowances. A good rule of thumb would be to strive for pure Paleo about 80% of the time and give yourself 20% leeway with "modern" foods.