What’s In Your Summer BBQ? Series (Part 2 of 2)

This is part 2 of a super summer BBQ series, following from part 1 that talked about hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers and buns. Now read up on all the other trimmings that come with a BBQ so you can enjoy your next summer hang to the fullest!

#4: Condiments

Ketchup, BBQ Sauce, Relish

Classic ketchup is made with tomatoes, vinegar, lots of sugar, and artificial flavouring. A tbsp of it contains 4g sugar, and the average person puts at least 2 tbsp on a burger or hot dog, giving you another 8-10g sugar – yikes!  Conventional ketchup is also made with conventional tomatoes, which are on the Environmental Working Groups dirty dozen list of the most chemically-sprayed agricultural products. For a healthier choice, choose organic ketchup and reduce the amount you use to cut back on sugar. Dr. Mason-Wood, ND loves his ketchup so he makes it himself or buys the Simply Naturals Organic ketchup.  The same applies to bbq sauces and other sweet-type sauces and relishes. When using these condiments, choose organic and low-sugar when possible, and limit use as much as possible.


There is a bright side to condiments: mustard! Mustard is relatively low in preservatives and is usually very low in sugar (but check the label). Mustard seed is also a good source of vitamin B1, selenium and magnesium, which are important nutrients for various body functions. Its only downside is that it can contain a high amount of sodium.


It’s especially important to pay attention to mayonnaise because there is so much variation between the different kinds. Regular Hellman’s mayonnaise is mostly fat from canola oil and low-quality eggs, along with preservatives, salt and sugar. Canola oil is becoming a dangerous food the more that its agricultural source, rapeseed, is becoming genetically modified. It can also be partially hydrogenated, but this is now banned because of the well-documented negative health impacts from hydrogenation. A good alternative to regular mayo is a version made with avocado oil, cage-free eggs and honey instead of sugar.

#5 Toppings

It’s hard to go wrong here because they’re vegetables, right? There are always options that can make your choices healthier.


Iceberg lettuce, for example, while being a lettuce is just basically water: not a lot of nutrients or vitamins. Swap this out for Boston lettuce, romaine or even leafy kale and you’ll get B vitamins, antioxidants and minerals with your meal.


Tomatoes are generally great to add, but make sure they are organic because they are in the top 12 foods most heavily sprayed with pesticides. According to the Environmental Working Group, one sample of conventional tomatoes contained 15 different pesticides and their harmful breakdown products. Also something to think about: have you ever considered if you have a food sensitivity to nightshades? This is a family of vegetables that include tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and potatoes, and for some people these foods can cause inflammation and exacerbate conditions like arthritis, skin conditions, autoimmune conditions, and even mental health concerns. A good way to test for this is by doing an elimination diet or food sensitivity testing with your Naturopathic Doctor.


Sauerkraut is generally a healthy food traditionally consisting of fermented cabbage, other vegetables, and salt. This means it is a live food with gut-healthy bacteria that will support your bacterial microbiota. But did you know that the grocery-store types that are sealed or canned are actually devoid of fermented bacteria? This is because they’re eliminated in the canning/processing. You can find a good, healthy, natural version at the Italian Centre locations in Edmonton.

#6: Drinks

Often at BBQs there are all sorts of sugary drinks, especially when there are kids around. Keep an eye out for pops and sodas with sugar, caffeine and artificial colours and flavours and carbonated drinks. Opt for water instead, or diluted juices or cooled herbal teas. Try an iced peppermint tea or iced hibiscus tea- refreshing, delicious and good for you! The reason that carbonated drinks (including water) are to be kept to a minimum and best avoided is that regular consumption contributes to osteoporosis.

#7: Socialize and run around

Don’t forget that the point of barbecues is to get together and enjoy summer. The guidelines of the most widely recommended diet, called the Mediterranean diet, has a whole section that recommends sharing meals and socializing with others. Lowering stress and increasing face-to-face contact with other humans actually changes the way we digest and metabolize food. So maybe once you’ve done your best with your food choices, let yourself relax and enjoy being with others. Let yourself make some Vitamin D naturally by running around in the sun without lathering yourself up in sun screen.

Here’s to a happy summer!


  1. Nutritional info on ketchup http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/3005/2
  2. Bad condiments https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/21/bad-condiments_n_2733484.html
  3. Canola oil https://draxe.com/canola-oil-gm/ 
  4. Environmental Working Group Dirty Dozen https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php 
  5. Sauerkraut https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-sauerkraut
  6. Mediterranean diet https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801.


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