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Food
and drink
by Shari Darling
During the holiday season, your job is
to welcome and feed your family and
friends with delicious cuisine and tasty
beverages. It is not your job to watch
over people’s diets or ensure that they
are eating their vegetables. However,
you CAN choose healthier foods over
bad ones and substitute healthier
ingredients, when possible.
If serving wine and other alcoholic
beverages to your guests, it’s a good
practice to incorporate fat into the
menu. High-fat and heavier foods help
absorb alcohol, thereby ensuring that
your guests leave sober and arrive
home safely.
From a culinary perspective, fat adds
plenty of flavour. Just think of the old
adage, “no fat…no flavour.”
Just remember that there are good fats
and bad fats. Incorporating good fats
into your holiday menus is beneficial.
But remember that foods with bad
fats have lots of nutrition too. Just use
healthier versions of bad fats when
possible (such as raw and/or organic)
and serve them in moderation.
Fats deemed by some as ‘bad’ consist
of saturated and trans fats. Saturated
fats are believed to raise cholesterol
levels. Trans fats are believed to also
increase bad cholesterol and decrease
good cholesterol. Saturated fats are
found in butter, fatty meats, cheese
and whole milk. Trans fats are found in
processed foods.
If your recipes call for ingredients
having saturated fat, choose healthier
versions such as raw and/or organic.
Choose organic pork or beef, for
example. If your recipe calls for butter,
use butter. Just head to the health
food store for raw, organic butter.
While butter is a type of saturated
fat, it’s also loaded with nutrition.
Butter is rich in vitamin A, lauric acid,
lecithin, anti-oxidants, vitamins E and
K, selenium, linoleic acid and vitamin
D, to name a few. Simply said, butter
treats fungal infections, is essential
for cholesterol metabolism, protects
against free radical damage, fights
cancer, builds muscles, boosts one’s
immunity and protects against tooth
decay. Shall I go on? So why give up
butter? Just choose healthy versions of
this saturated fat.
Unsaturated fats are healthy and
support the heart, lower LDL
(bad) cholesterol and raise HDL
(good) cholesterol. Healthy fats
come frommonounsaturated and
polyunsaturated varieties.
Polyunsaturated fats are those found
in oily fish like sardines, anchovies,
trout and salmon. Plant oils are
also polyunsaturated. They include
safflower seeds and almond butter.
Monounsaturated fats are found
in olive oil, some nuts (hazelnuts,
macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans)
and avocados. Research reveals that
polyunsaturated fats (and, to a lesser
extent, monounsaturated fats) have
been shown to lower bad cholesterol
levels, helping to keep your heart
healthy.
Coconut oil is a funny one. While it
contains saturated fat, a type of MCT
(Medium Chain Triglycerides), it can
also be dubbed as the new superfood.
Scientific research shows that lauric
acid (in coconut oil’s saturated fat)
increases good HDL cholesterol.
Coconut oil increases digestion and
boosts thyroid function, metabolism,
energy and endurance, among its
many benefits.
Most exciting is a new clinical trial
that was performed by the USF Health
Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute showing
that coconut oil is now believed
to be highly beneficial in treating
Alzheimer’s disease and, perhaps,
other dementia. Again, choose
organic, cold-pressed versions. My
husband and I incorporate two
heaping tablespoons (each) into our
morning protein shake with banana
and other ingredients.
When planning holiday recipes, be
balanced in your choices of fats and
substitute organic and raw versions
when you can. When serving hors
d’oeuvres, for example, choose one
cheese within a recipe rather than
preparing a cheese tray loaded in
saturated fat. Use coconut oil – with
its high heat point – for pan-frying,
sautéing or baking. You can also use
coconut oil instead of olive oil in the
creation of pestos.
Here are some holiday hors d’oeuvres
using both healthy and bad fats.
For more information on wine and
food, go to
Be At One With the Fat!