Going paleo but you don’t know if that French’s Yellow mustard you’re about to spread on your homemade, all natural sausage you just grilled at your friend’s barbecue get-together fits the bill?
Is mustard paleo? Short answer: No. At least for the most part.
More Examination Needed
But is all mustard Paleo prohibited in the paleo diet?
The answer is a little trickier than you may realize. That’s because even if mustard is in its very essence made up of 4 ingredients, different brands use a different variations of these ingredients. A change in one of the types of ingredients can make all the difference in the Paleo diet from using something that’s natural to something that’s been processed.
The other thing that makes it difficult is that almost all brands add other ingredient to their mustard. It gives them their own unique taste that makes their brand different from other brands. What they add could make their mustard not paleo.
But if mustard is your favorite condiment, fear not. You can have mustard and stay loyal to your new, healthy Paleo lifestyle at the same time.
Let us explain.
Is Mustard Paleo or Not?
As you probably know, the hallmarks of a pure Paleo diet contain lean proteins (from lean cuts of meat) fruits and vegetables along with healthy fats from sources such as nuts, olive and fish oils, seeds and advocados.
The biggest no-no when it comes to a true Paleo diet is processed foods. Anything that contains ingredients with five or more syllables and a degree in chemistry to identify probably wasn’t around in the hunter-gatherer era. Thus not paleo.
And that’s where modern, store bought mustard comes into play.
Most grocery store mustard you get is heavily processed and contains chemicals like high fructose corn syrup, MSG, and natural flavors that are processed to within an inch of their lives. This moves the natural mustard that’s Paleo approved into on that does not belong in the Paleo food list.
Actual, homemade mustard, on the other hand, consists of just four real ingredients:
- ground mustard seeds,
- water and
- lemon juice.
At first you might balk at vinegar being Paleo friendly, but remember that classic balsamic vinegar has been made from fermented grapes since the time of the Babylonians.
So to put things in one brief sentence: store-bought mustard is not Paleo, but classic mustard is.
So Which Mustard Can I Eat on Paleo?
So then the only good Paleo mustard is the homemade stuff?
Generally, but not totally.
There are actually certain natural, organic versions of classic mustard sold at retailers like Trader Joe’s and certain brands such as Annie’s Naturals that fit the Paleo standard.
However, the only way to make sure of this is to make a quick go-through of the label. Going through the ingredients of these natural mustard brands will show whether or not they do belong and can be a part of an all Paleo diet. Annie’s Naturals for example, does make the cut and is Paleo along with some other natural brown mustards.
But Buyer Beware
The problem is that with most store bought options, including mustard, there usually are other ingredients other than the main four listed above that are not clearly communicated to the consumer.
So unless you really trust a certain brand, your best bet to ensuring that you are not cheating when it comes to sticking to your Paleo diet is making your own mustard.
Making Home-made Paleo Friendly Mustard
So which kind of Paleo friendly mustard is the best for me?
Classic, homemade brown mustard is often the healthiest option, since it contains no fat.
If you are going to make your own, make sure the ingredients you use are certified organic and non processed.
Mustard seeds are easily obtainable at your local Whole Food’s or any other organic store, as is non-processed balsamic vinegar. Add some sea salt and pepper to taste with half the juice of an organic lemon, and you’re good to go.
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of making your own, then most research points to Annie’s Naturals as being the most consistently reliable source of paleo-friendly mustard. And there you have it. See you at the barbecue.
If you want more Paleo foods and recipes, check out the large 1,000 Recipes Collection or the Paleo Recipe Cookbook, two of our favorites.