Which Sunny Condiment Can Save You Hundreds of Calories a Month?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It's mustard, of course, and it happens to be one of the lightest condiments out there. It truly is a healthy eater's great friend.

A tablespoon of the yellow stuff has just 10 calories and no fat. A tablespoon of mayo has 90 calories and 10 g fat. You would have to eat a half-cup of mustard to get that many calories. According to French's, if you replace mayo with mustard on all your sandwiches this summer, you can save more than 8,000 calories!

National Mustard Day is this Saturday, Aug. 1, but we wanted to give you time to prepare all your favorite mustard dishes.

Did you know that mustard has a long history that dates back to the Roman times? And the yellow stuff we squirt on our hot dogs at baseball games is almost the same as it was back them.

According to About.com's home cooking expert, the word "mustard" comes from contraction of the Latin mustum ardens meaning "burning must." It was called "burning must" because in France the spicy mustard seeds were crushed and mixed with the juice of wine grapes, called "must." However, back in ancient Greece, the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, used mustard as a medicinal plant more than a culinary one!

Mustard is still made the way the Romans made it, with the spicy and tangy seeds of the mustard plant and vinegar or the juice of wine grapes. The seeds come in yellow and black varieties, and while both are spicy, the latter is more pungent. When dry, mustard lacks its trademark spice; soaking the seeds causes a reaction that allows the heat to emerge. Cold water or other liquids will produce a hotter mustard while hot water will tame some of the mustard seed's bite. As a result, cooking or heating mustard can also reduce its bite.

Let's take a look at some of the different varieties of mustard you might see on supermarket shelves:

Yellow mustard: This is the most common form of mustard in the US. It is usually made with ground yellow mustard, white vinegar and turmeric, which gives it that trademark bright-yellow hue. It is smooth.

Dijon mustard: The city of Dijon in France and the surrounding Burgundy region are known for producing some of the world's best mustard. The mustard is usually made with wine instead of vinegar and brown and black seeds. It is tan or dark yellow and smooth.

Honey mustard: Any mustard can be mixed with honey to sweeten it and temper the heat. When choosing a variety at the store, try to find one that has as few ingredients as possible. Even better, make your own at home by mixing your favorite mustard with honey to taste. This mustard is higher in calories than unsweetened varieties, about 35 calories a tablespoon.

Whole-grain or Meaux mustard: Whole-grain mustard uses whole, uncrushed mustard seeds. A famous variety is Meaux mustard, made in the city of the same name just outside Paris. It is very similar to Dijon mustard in taste, but it is a whole-grain mustard, while Dijon mustard is smooth.

Other varieties of mustard include English, which is made from flour, turmeric, and mustard seeds in various colors, and Chinese, which is just mustard powder and water or wine. Germany is known for its mustard as well, with varieties that run the gamut from smooth to coarse, sweet to spicy.

Grab a bottle or a jar and get cooking! Here are some great tips for using mustard:

  • Spread mustard on any meat before grilling. It's also great on shrimp and tofu.

  • Thin mustard with a bit of water or vinegar for an easy dipping sauce.

  • Use a teaspoon of Dijon mustard as a stabilizer when making vinaigrette. It helps keep the oil and vinegar from separating.

  • Skip the mayo and make mustard-based vinaigrettes for potato salads, pasta salads and cole slaw--all your backyard barbecue favorites!

  • Honey mustard poured over chicken or pork chops before baking makes for a quick and easy dinner.

Did you know?
  • In olden days, mustard was lauded for its health properties. Plasters of mustard on the chest were said to clear up sinus and chest congestion, and it was also said to help ward off upset stomach in small doses.

  • Here in Cincinnati, where SparkPeople is headquartered, we've got a deep-running German community. There's even a club dedicated to a particular German mustard!

  • Mustard is a member of the brassica family of plants, which means it's related to cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. The mustard plant's green leafy tops are edible and can be cooked like collards or turnip greens.

  • According to Dr. Jonny Bowden's book "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth," mustard seeds contain plenty of cancer-fighting phyto-chemicals and antioxidants.

  • If you live in or near Wisconsin and really like mustard, you might want to check out the Mustard Festival in Mount Horeb. It'll be the last one in that town, organizers say!

Find plenty of SparkRecipes that use mustard here, and check out some recipes from French's mustard, too!

Are you a mustard fan? Do you like it smooth or coarse, spicy or sweet? I like strong Dijon mustard. I put it in salad dressings and love it with cheese. I plop a spoonful into macaroni and cheese to really punch up the flavor. What is your favorite way to use mustard?

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Not a mustard fan Report
I adore mustard! so versatile! My favorite is spicy brown mustard and dijon mustard. Yum Yum1 Report
Yummy! Report
I am a huge Heinz ketchup fan but am learning to use more mustard... Report
Love Mustard! Report
Love it! The spiceier the better!!! Report
Love Mustard. Really don't like Mayo (yecchh). Prefer mustard on a fish sandwich to tartar sauce. ( Would rather do lemon juice but that gets soggy) Love the ballpark mustard from the old Cleveland Stadium. it tasted different than the usual yellow mustard. Report
I wish I liked mustard, but i can't even stand the smell of it :( Sucks 2 B me Report
I love mustard! I've never liked mayo and I barely eat ketchup so I mustard all the time. Report
I always liked mustard more than mayonnaise, now I REALLY like it more. I had no idea it had so few calories. What a blessing, because Dijon is one of my faves, and I was afraid it was a guility pleasure. Thanks so much for the article. It was great. Report
I love love love mustard. I do believe that was one of the first changes I made on the road to my healthier lifestyle...one side of the bread with mayo..the other mustard...more mustard than mayo in my tuna, etc. Now I'm mayo free...and mustard full! LOL

I think I have about 5 varieties in the cupboard/refrigerator. Report
I have always liked mustard, especially better than mayo. I have hypothyroidism. I have read recentlly that mustard does speed up your metabolism and helps if you do have hypothyroidism! Report
I don't mustard or mayo or ketchup - dry sandwiches have even fewer calories. :^) I will cook with mustard in certain recipes, but there it's not being used as a low-cal substitute, but rather for its flavor element. Report
I checked out the link for the certain brand - and now I'm craving weisswurst, which I haven't had in years and figure it's not really part of my healthy lifestyle - but I remember it being so good on a fresh roll with some mustard slathered on top. MMMMMmmmmmmm Report
I like regular mustard on my burger and with pretzels . Yesterday, I added a packet to my tuna salad and I like the flavor. I love honey mustard with chicken. Report
I have found that as I get older I need more foods with stronger flavors. Mustard has really become a favorite of mine. I also like buying dried mustard and preparing my own. Try stone ground mustard if you have not, it is wonderful! Report
Part of the name is very appropriate -- the ardens meaning BURNING. I have known several people who have been scared away from sandwiches, potato salad, etc. by a mustard enthusiast who used only mustard. One little girl said to me, "I hate mustard and I won't eat sandwiches anymore!"
For myself, for many years I would not use mustard at all. Then I got to where I could use tiny amounts, but I will never use it exclusively. I just use mayo (olive oil type) and use a teeny bit of mustard. Report
I love all kinds of mustard! Report
I am glad that I have always enjoyed the taste of mustard over mayo or ketchup, so I am saving on the calories. I keep trying to tell my husband who is a big mayo fan, how much mustard is better for him. Great article to share with him. Thanks Report
mmm....course spicy mustard is the best! and compliments all sandwiches! Report
i've taken a liking to mustard over the years. i still have my mayo or miracle whip, but i have a lot less of those if i have mustard. love making my own honey mustard too (when i have honey). throw some honey, mustard, and chinese hot mustard together and WHEW! Report
When I was tested at the Allergist, I came back allergic to mustard, but it's pretty funny because I really dislike mustard, boarding in hating it. :-) Report
This is interesting. I am not a picky eater, which adds to my weight problems. My husband however is particular about what he eats. : ) He also does not have weight issues. He prefers mustard over mayonnaise anyday. ( But not more than ketchup.) : ) I shall have to give mustard more prominence. Perhaps if I were able to apply some of his eating habits I would have 'less' to worry about. I have also read that the turmeric in mustard is good for inflammation.
I will also add that he came up with using only mustard for deviled eggs ( no mayo ) and it tastes pretty good. He has received favorable reviews because of it. Report
I started putting 1 tsp. of mustard in my imitation crab salad and it adds an extra little zip to it. Report
I do like some mayo on sandwhiches, but in order to cut the fat that comes with mayo, I generally will go lightly on the mayo and add about 1 T. of the mustard--a little dab of mustard goes a long way--I guess we have to choose between the sodium in the mustard or the fat in the mayo...

I love mustard but stopped using it when I saw what it was doing to my daily sodium intake. This whole lifestyle change is about checks and balances, save some here to have more there. I opted to skip the mustard and go for mayo. Maybe I'll see about incorporating smaller amounts back in, though! Report
I love honey mustard on my salads. Never thought about putting it on pork..thanks for the idea! Report
I love mustard - have three different kinds in the fridge right now! Report
Why is it when someone talks about mustard or dill pickles our mouths automatically water?? I love mustard, all kinds!!! Yummy! Report
OK, I love mustard. But it is SOOOOO not a substitute for mayonnaise! Don't pretend that mayo is just about keeping your sandwich from being dry...for those of us who love it there is no substitute, we just have to learn to use it sparingly and in places that we can appreciate it fully! Report
I like mustard on hamburgers and hot dogs. Thanks for the cooking tips. Report
I eat just plain mustard. I would love to try different types of it though. I am planning on using more mustard in the future. Great blog! Report
I love mustard especially the Australian Whole Grain Mustard, I use it on everything. Report
I love mustard. Honey mustard, Dijon all of them and the funny part is I am just starting to learn how to really cook with it. It's great! Report
I love all types of mustard and use it on almost everything. I really love it on salmon. Report
Love it, love it, love it! Report
Honey mustard glazed chicken! Report
deviled eggs Report
I like a number of different mustards but don't really eat a lot of it. I love to saute some plain old canned mushrooms in mustard sometimes and just eat it as a side dish. I did these during my vegetarian years as the combination tastes like a hot dog with mustard and can be put on a bun. I also like to cook chicken in various ways coated with mustard, any variety. Report
I have made tuna salad with mustard many times over the years. It's pretty tangy of course, but you get used to it. I like adding in pickle relish, or maybe Old Bay seasoning and cracked pepper instead. Even making tuna with 1/2 mayo and 1/2 mustard is better than all mayo! Report
Oh I love mustard. Yellow on hot dogs, Dijon on burgers, whole grain on spicy German brats... yum. Much better than ketchup. And SO much better than mayo, which I've never liked except in tuna salad.
I wonder, can you make tuna salad with mustard?? I sense an experiment coming on... :D Report
I love mustard. I started mixing mustard and vinigar as the dressing for salads and for dipping veggies into. I wish the article included more recipe idea's or a good 'where to' guide for buying unique mustanrds. Report
I LOVE mustard. yellow mustard is a staple in my diet

my grandma used to make this really awesome sweet hot mustard, too. But I've never been able to find a version to buy that tasted as good and I don't know the recipe! I wish she was still here. Report
I lvoe mustard - all kinds - just depends on what I'm using it on or for. Report
Mustard has always been a favorite of mine. Especially on hot dogs! I can have one hot dog every 6 weeks and it is a real treat! No ketchup! Just mustard! Report
I have always loved mustard. I use to dip my fries in it. I like it on Genoa and just about every sandwich I make. Report
i started to use mustard instead of mayo because of the calories. Also I mix a little honey with yellow mustard to use with my chicken tenderloins. Report
I love mustard over mayo anytime :o) Report
I really dislike mustard, although I use it to make my sauce for potato salad or macaroni salad. That is a must, but to eat it on a sandwich, YUCK! I go plain any way. Report
I prefer it over Mayo anyway so this is great news :o ) Report
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