Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week 14: Healthy Fats

I've been researching fats in our diet for quite some time.  But, after watching The Oiling of America, I decided to make saturated fats a priority.  I ditched margarine quite a while back in lieu of butter.  That was a pretty painless transition as far as food and cooking go, but butter is quite a bit more expensive.  I dealt with it and worked it into the budget.  Some day I'd like to be able to buy organic butter, but we are going to have to seriously reduce our butter consumption as a family before this is a remote possibility.  Right now, I use between eight and ten pounds of butter a month.  That's about $20 every month.  With organic being $4.75 a pound in my area, I am just not able to make that a priority at this time (maybe someday though).

I began using coconut oil as a moisturizer last summer when middle kid's eczema was out of control.  Only recently have I started using it in baking and, while I like it, I found that coconut oil has a learning curve.  The oil solidifies at 76 degrees.  Since my house in the winter averages about 63 degrees, it has been a problem to keep the coconut oil liquid.  I keep my flour in the freezer and I'm used to just measuring it out straight from the freezer and into the mixing bowl it goes.  Even if I heated the oil to a liquid state, the second I put the flour in, it lowered the temp of the oil resolidifying it.  Then I had cake crumbles that resembled struesel rather than cake batter (it baked up fine, but I wasn't sure it would).  Since I'm sometimes a slow learner, I've done this on a cake, 3 batches of muffins and some bread dough.  Now, before I start, I measure out my flour into a separate bowl and sit it on the stove to "warm up."  I also set my eggs and milk out if I need those as well and the coconut oil works much like a polyunsaturated fat (veggie oil), remaining in a liquid state.

I have olive oil that I use for stir-frying and in some bread recipes.  I don't like it straight at all, so no vinegar and oil salad dressings for me.  LOL

Lastly, and the reason I'm choosing oil as the baby step this week, is that I finely purchased organic canola oil.  It is not a suggested oil by Sally Fallon in The Oiling of America because it is a poly unsaturated oil.  For me, canola oil is an acceptable choice because it contains Omega-3 fatty acids.  Other popular oils, such as corn or vegetable oil, contain mostly Omega-6 fatty acids and while they are not terrible by themselves, when consumed in great disproportion to Omega-3's, they can cause numerous health problems (information from Nina Planck's book Real Food: What to Eat and Why).  However, buying canola oil proved to be more challenging when I found that rapeseed (canola plant) is genetically modified.  Everyone knows how I feel about genetically modified foods, and if you don't, you can find it here and here and here.  LOL-it appears that I have addressed this issue in a number of posts!

Anyway, I've been searching for a reasonably priced organic canola, which would seem to be an oxymoron.  I finally purchased a 32 oz. bottle of Spectrum Organic canola oil for $10.89-that pains me to even type it!  It was the cheapest certified organic oil that I came across.  I'll be saving it for salad dressings and for when I try to make my own mayonaise.  It's too expensive to use in everyday cooking and I don't care for the taste of olive oil in my dressings, so that's why I purchased it (otherwise I probably would have just weeded it out of my family's diet altogether).

Someday, I might start using lard or suet (pork or beef fat).  Right now, I don't really have a need for it, so I'll cross that fatty bridge when I get to it.  For right now, butter and coconut oil will be our main cooking fats, with occasional use of olive oil and canola oil.

Things to look forward to...
whole wheat biscuits
a new and improved 1000 island dressing recipe (hopefully made with homemade mayo)
banana muffins


  1. do you use applesauce to help cut down on butter use? good for more than just watching calories!

  2. Too bad you don't have a Costco - organic butter is much cheaper there! I will have to check out that movie - I've never heard of it. I'm actually really wanting to make my own lard - it is supposed to make the best baked goods (in particular pie crusts) and I just think it would be neat to do. Yes, I'm nerdy :)

    And I like using applesauce in muffins - less calories and it makes things really moist!

  3. I usually use applesauce in my baked goods when I have some to use up. Last fall I froze in in quart bags, so it isn't really practical to thaw a bag just to make muffins. This year though I think I'll freeze some in half-cup portions as well (similar to what I do with squash and pumpkin). That will make it easier to use applesauce more regularly. Thanks for the idea!


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