I am all for anything that is healthier, more cost-effective and SIMPLER. It’s a huge bonus if it also tastes better than its not-healthy, spendier counterpart! Over the years this has translated into making a few things at home that we used to buy at the store. When I started paying more attention to food labels I realized I didn’t really want 20 ingredients in my mayonnaise, corn syrup and a ton of extra sugar in my jelly, or chemically processed oils in my salad dressing.
Thanks to many stores now carrying more whole-foods friendly options, you can often find simple whole-food based items like mayonnaise, jelly, and salad dressing fairly easily – but they usually also come with a hefty price tag. If you’re not at a place where you can or want to spend close to $10 for a jar of real mayonnaise without grungy oils in it, this post is for you – you won’t believe how simple it is to make!
I don’t make every one of these items all the time and I don’t sweat getting a less than ideal version of something once in a while but these are a few things I make at home that have been staples for years. There is something so satisfying about knowing exactly what’s in your food!
Without further ado, here is a roundup of some really easy items you can make at home that require very little hands-on time:
You’ll need a wide-mouth mason jar and an immersion blender There are recipes that use a regular blender or food processor but the immersion blender has been the only nearly foolproof method I’ve used. We use avocado oil from Costco because it’s a healthy oil with a mild flavor at a great price(I don’t like the way olive oil base mayonnaise tastes). I haven’t used an exact recipe in a long time but if I did, it would be close to this one. I like to use a pastured egg (not to be confused with pasteurized , pastured eggs are from chickens that are allowed to roam free and eat bugs!) for recipes like this that require the egg to be used raw. The trick to this mayo is to start with your immersion blender touching the bottom of the jar and only start moving it up when the contents in the bottom have started to emulsify. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it whips up! 30 seconds and you’ll have a mayonnaise that is not only junk-free but actually full of healthy fats! If you like videos, I have a 30 second mayonnaise posted here. This will stay fresh in the fridge for at least a week.
2. Chick-fil-A Copycat Sauce
We love this copycat sauce to dip chicken strips or nuggets in and it’s full of healthy fats and live enzymes from the raw honey. To make it, mix equal parts yellow mustard and local raw honey then add some homemade or healthy mayonnaise until you get the taste/balance you want. It is DELICIOUS with Stupid Easy Paleo’s Chick-fil-A copycat nugget recipe.
Or is it jam? I always get them confused. This recipe makes a real fruit spread that is more like thick pureed fruit than smooth translucent jello (so you can decide if that’s more jelly or jam). We do the gelatin method (with this gelatin) and frozen strawberries. Jellies and jams are one of those foods that are really hard to find without a ton of added processed sugar. I’ve always wondered why fruit that is naturally sweet gets so much sugar added to it (“by all accounts, it doesn’t make sense.” Bonus if you name that movie). It will look soupy after you add the gelatin and thicken as it cools (lest you are tempted to add more gelatin like I have multiple times and ended up with hard jelly… or jam). Don’t add more gelatin than stated. You can thank me later.
4. Ranch Dressing
This is, in my opinion, the BEST Ranch dressing! You’ll need that immersion blender again. The ingredient list may look a little long but it comes together very quickly and is so worth it! I’ve used this Ranch so many times to jazz up a simple whole foods meal that would have otherwise been a little on the boring side. Once again, no trash oils and full of just real, whole foods. It will thicken up after it’s been refrigerated and will last a good week in the fridge.
5. Taco Seasoning
Seasoning packets from the grocery store are notorious for having added MSG. If you’re someone who likes to try to avoid neurotoxins (like me!), you can easily make your own at home with a few basic spices. As a sidenote, I’m curious: does anyone else use chili and taco seasoning interchangeably? I do, and that’s basically what this mix is.
This recipe fills a pint-size jar:
10 TBS chili powder
4 TBS cumin
5 TBS garlic powder
2 TBS dried oregano
2 tsp onion powder
1 ½ TBS pink Himalayan salt
1 TBS paprika
Shake it all together and you’ve got yourself a large jar of chili/taco mix to have on hand!
6. Chocolate Syrup
1 cup of water or coffee or a mix of half and half
½ cup of coconut sugar (or sugar of choice)
½ cup of cacao powder (cacao powder has more nutrition than its more processed sister powder, cocoa).
*The mixture will bubble up to at least twice the size of the initial ingredients so make sure you have a large enough pan before starting!
Heat the water in a saucepan and stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved. Add cacao powder and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for 3 minutes at a light boil, stirring occasionally so the sides don’t burn, until sauce thickens. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Store in the fridge and use on whatever your heart desires, knowing that at least you have the powerhouse nutrition of cacao powder and a less processed, lower-glycemic sweetener on your side.
7. Citrus Honey Salad Dressing
I hate throwing things out but I’m a stickler for expiration dates and I just threw away two bottles of expired salad dressing. On a whim I read the labels before I tossed them out. They were both healthy salad dressing brands with simple ingredients. Like, crazy simple ingredients! I thought, “why did I pay $5 for this when I have everything to make it at home?” I bought them because of the convenience and because I knew without even reading the labels that they were healthy because of the brand they were but they expired before I ever used very much of them and to be perfectly honest, they were bland. Salad dressing is one of those things that I always forget is so simple to make! Invest in a little shaker bottle and you probably already have the ingredients you need at home to make a healthy version.
I don’t have an exact recipe written down but we’ve been enjoying a mix olive oil, lemon and fresh squeezed orange juice, and a pinch of sea salt for a last-minute dressing, sometimes with some raw honey mixed in.
I also found these healthy salad dressing recipes with simple ingredients that look delicious!
8. Peanut Butter
I recently learned that peanut and nut butters can contain up to 25% added oil to create more finished product. There is no regulation that says the type of oil has to be disclosed. I have not researched this for myself, but if oil is added to up the profit margin, it makes sense to me that cheaper, junk oils are what is often used (peanut, soybean, canola, safflower…). This means you can spend a pretty penny on organic peanut butter with only peanuts and salt on the label but really, it also has added undisclosed vegetable oil (reminds me of the essential oil industry and how different companies get away with lesser quality despite what the label says!).
I made my own almond butter recently and I felt so accomplished and so proud of it, mainly because it ended up requiring a lot of time and effort when it was all said and done. I was expecting the same results with peanut butter but I was wrong – peanut butter was WAY easier to make than almond butter! If you have a high speed blender like a Vitamix of Blendtec, all you need to do is add about 3 cups of peanuts, blend on low, scrape the sides once or twice, and then blend on medium until creamy. I used roasted, salted peanuts from Costco, which are not perfect peanuts or organic, I know, but I opted for cost-effective with minimal ingredients and am really happy with it! If I can get raw, organic peanuts in bulk for a good price, I will use them, but this time I just used what was easy and made a ton of the creamiest peanut butter ever.
Do you have something you stopped buying from the store that you now make at home? Or a favorite sauce that livens up simple whole foods? I’d love to hear what it is!
*This post does not contain any affiliate links, mainly because I’m technology challenged and haven’t figured out how to set that up yet!