Even with the best intentions, sticking with a more strict approach to paleo this month has been difficult. Everything from temptations to participating in a donut-eating contest (worth it—this took place at a field day to raise money for my friend Anne’s father) seems to throw me off just a tiny bit.
The good news is that maybe 90% of what I eat could be considered clean. Clean eating just feels good right now, too. I feel better during WODs and runs and recovery is easier. I’m not too focused on physical progress; instead, I’m focused on strength and ability, especially since the partner competition I’m doing is now 37 days away.
For the first time, I’m also emphasizing the little things like avoiding sugary salad dressings and artificial sweeteners as much as I can. That takes paleo from more of an 80/20 thing to more of a 90/10 or higher. My boyfriend suggested a couple weeks ago that we take some time on a weekend to make homemade mayonnaise and ketchup using paleo-friendly recipes, and I’m glad we did.
Paleo-friendly mayonnaise is somewhat of an oxymoron, since true mayonnaise doesn’t include sugar. Let this serve as a reminder to think outside the paleo box while cooking and thinking about food in general.
The first batch I attempted followed the recipe for baconnaise in Practical Paleo. I tried to use this brilliant, quick method from The Food Lab, but I moved the immersion blender too quickly and the mayo broke. I later saved it with this technique, using a fresh egg yolk, but opted to whisk the mayo by hand. The process took more athleticism than some CrossFit WODs. Later, I tried the method using beaters and am happy to report that works well, for those without an immersion blender.
Eventually a third try and more carefully following The Food Lab’s method produced a superior result. Not to mention that watching a container of oil, egg yolk, lemon juice, and mustard expand into a white cloud of mayonnaise can also be satisfying in a way. Make a paste from a few cloves of garlic and kosher salt, add some olive oil to the finished mayo, and you’ve got a mean aioli.
For the homemade and paleo ketchup, I started with a high-quality tomato paste and generally followed two recipes, one of which had the right balance of spices, and the other, the right balance of onion and garlic flavors. I seasoned the ketchup to taste and ended up adding additional vinegar for a tangier result.
Several months ago, I’d proclaimed my love for Blue Plate, a local mayonnaise that’s an institution in our restaurants. Adding some white vinegar to the finished mayonnaise imparted the characteristic tartness, and the result was a mayo that wasn’t as sweet as Blue Plate, but tangy and with that familiar bite. Since we purchased some small canning jars for homemade condiments, I plan to continue making my own and experimenting with new recipes.
Oh, and as for the aforementioned donut-eating competition? Anne emerged victorious.
Photo courtesy Anne Talhelm