“Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” – Michael Pollan
So much of the Real Food dogma is to ‘eat like your grandparents did’ because the food was unprocessed. Well my grandparents, like all of their generation, initially ate a lot of butter and fat. Eventually, they believed the idea that fats caused heart disease. By the time I was born they were no longer eating the foods they were raised on. I recently received, as a gift, an out of print cookbook from the early 1950s. Apparently no one in this book ever heard of ‘low-fat’ and the recipes are all a delicious window into the past. Almost every recipe lists ‘animal cooking fat’ as one of the ingredients and there is even a recipe for pot roast that requires layering the roast with beef ‘suet’ (aka beef fat trimmings) while roasting. This was normal, basic cooking folks.
If we want to eat like our grandparents did, we need to be eating a lot more saturated fat. I figure that requires upwards of 40% fat in our daily diet. Based on this rule of thumb, I have been experimenting the past year with high-fat recipes (as you can see posted on my blog). There are recipes that I have made that are so delicious compared to anything I’ve made previously, that I can’t believe what I was missing! Oh how fat adds flavor and richness to every dish without much effort on the part of the cook. No wonder everyone has stopped cooking over the past 50 years, food without fat just tastes flat out boring.
Low-fat craze gives birth to more added sugars
Sugar is the hidden culprit to heart disease which we have been led to believe is harmless in ‘moderation’. In contrast to that message, even in small amounts saturated fat have been and continue to be condemned. Sugar is toxic. There is a new expose just released by Mother Jones which explains how the Sugar Industry leveraged their power and financial influence to deflect known links between sugar and heart disease and diabetes. It highlights how corrupt the scientific community is who conducted the ‘studies’ which the government and health officials often then use to recommend what we all should be eating. The article explains how the sugar industry vilified saturated fats and helped support the diet-heart theories financially and through government and media influence to deflect the growing concerns about sugar. They discovered this through now defunct company memos and via deceased researcher’s files. The evidence is quite damning and is a great example of why I do not quote a lot of scientific ‘studies’ on this blog. Almost all of these studies are benefiting some company or industry or trade group product in some way shape or form. All you have to do is follow the money.
We have to start listening to our own bodies again vs. waiting to hear what someone else says is true. All of these so called studies only seek to confuse us and deflect from the real issues at hand. Because of the internet and the explosion of data and information we have at our fingertips, you can pretty much find a ‘study’ to back up any viewpoint, no matter what it is. If you can cook your own food then you are in control of your own destiny.
In any event, no one can dispute that we are currently living through a terrible epidemic of preventable diseases of our own creation. I hope the industry executives and paid scientists who contributed to this epidemic for their own financial gain can somehow and someday understand the enormity of their actions and feel the weight of what they have done on their shoulders. I wonder if they eat their own proverbial dog food and how that worked out for them.
The Saturated Fat Renaissance?
The bright spot is that we are on the verge of what I like to call the “Saturated Fat Renaissance”. Fat is becoming haute cuisine! However, the biggest hurdle with people trying to adopt a real food style of cooking at home is actually using a liberal amount of saturated fat to really round out their recipes. It is just completely counter to everything we have been taught. In my humble opinion, you will be missing out on what is so great about eating real food if you don’t cross this line. We all have to rethink our bias against anything with fat in it.
I have looked back at traditional cookbooks and flavor guides and the good news is getting 40% fat back into our diets isn’t impossible to attain. Here are my secrets to getting more fat into my diet:
- Go from a ‘pat’ of Eggs fried with a pat of butter – meh. Eggs fried with a knob of butter – boom! And when you put those eggs on your plate – pour the hot leftover butter in the pan over them.
- Make the switch to full-fat dairy. Nature made food with the fat in it for a reason. Taking the fat out is all processing, and real foodies don’t eat ‘processed’ food. When processed, extra chemicals and sugars (aka the real villains) get added in to make the dairy item palatable.
- Eat fat with sugars or carbs. Fat slows down the absorption of sugar-y foods and helps you avoid a sugar crash. Eat cheese, full fat milk or yogurt, nut butter, butter or coconut oil with any sugar-y or carb-y and you will notice a difference in how you feel after you eat it.
- Eat fat with your vegetables. Steaming is so boring and passé. Apparently we can’t assimilate nutrients from vegetables without fats. I am sure you have heard that you should eat avocados with pretty much everything because of this reason. So why not other good fats? On my salads, you can find avocado but also homemade mayonnaise made with egg yolks and cheese and maybe even an egg or some fatty meats!
- Eat all the meats you have avoided including organ meats and fatty odd bits like oxtail, beef cheeks, bacon/pork belly (if you eat pork), chicken skin, etc. Did you know predators like lions leave lean muscle meats from their kills to scavengers? They go straight for the organs, bones and fat and leave the rest. They know where the nutrition is for their survival. Bonus: because no one wants these cuts anymore because they are too ‘fatty’ you can score them for cheap! Just make sure they are grass fed and from a local farm you trust.
- Eat marrow. Marrow with a little salt on a toast point is heaven. Bones are cheap too. Enough said.
- Stop eating ‘egg white’ omelets. Yolks are where the nutrients are hiding. Honestly, who actually likes egg white omelets?
- Add butter, mayo or animal fats like schmaltz or lard to your sandwiches. I have asked my mother-in-law who is from South Africa what she grew up eating and she has confirmed that a sandwich never crossed her plate without a thick layer of schmaltz on it!
This post is featured on Monday Mania, Make Your Own Monday, Mothering Monday, Weekend Gourmet, Natural Living Monday, Motivation Monday, Fat Tuesday, Family Table Tuesday, Traditional Tuesdays, Scratch Cookin Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Creative Juice Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, PennyWise Platter, Fill Those Jars Friday, Small Footprint Family