02 Feb Fats are OK-here’s your permission!
This is not a post to debate whether fat is good or bad for you or to dive deeper into which fats are evil and which are nice. I am not a dietitian; nor do I suspect they have all the answers.
Personally, it became a little stressful trying to decipher what was “fact” and how I should or should not use fats in my life. I knew I was never giving them up—I would give up my left arm before abandoning butter.
With that said, when I eat a pile of fried foods or half a loaf of artisan French bread with high-fat European butter … it does feel a little wrong. And bloaty.
Then this concept came to me. It’s one you’ll see again and again and is slowly becoming one of my beloved “filters” by which to make decisions.
That being: Is it a “Hell, yeah!”?
Cream cheese: YES
Popcorn with butter: YES
Butter: OF COURSE, YES
Fried foods: Meh
Burger: YES, but only if it’s an epic handcrafted, juicy one. Blah or fast-food burger = pass.
Ice cream: Pass (It’s just not my thing! No worries, I offset it in other areas.)
Know which fats are extra rewarding and worth it to you—in other words, a “Hell, yeah!” Then gently armed with your mindful choice, give yourself permission to enjoy those that will set off actual pleasure receptors in your brain and give you the most bang for the calorie-dense buck, unapologetically.
Next hack. Use the strong ones—you can use less but still feel satisfied.
- A high-quality, young, grassy olive oil tastes really fresh and adds a touch of bitter and tang but in a good way. Try it on salads, finishing pasta, or on steamed/roasted veggies. Relish the difference between a high-quality olive oil and a neutral, meh standard EVOO.
- Brown BUTTER! You can thank me soon enough for this hack (see below). This is beyond delicious on bread, on toast, tossed with steamed veggies or pasta (next-level flavor territory).
Strong cheeses = the ability to use a little but still feel non-deprived. I try to only stock these. They don’t run out as fast because we use less but they also seem to last longer in the fridge before getting moldy or weird. We like: Parmesan, Gruyère, Gorgonzola, and sharp white cheddar.
- Bacon grease or bacon in general. Alternatives: crisped-up prosciutto, pork belly lardons (pork belly = meatier bacon). We cook our eggs in bacon grease, sometimes brown certain meats in it, pan fry potatoes, add the crispy prosciutto bits to salads, or toss with veggies to amp up the umami and salt. I like it in certain salads or to up-level cooked veggies. It IS rich, so a little goes a long way on the pork belly. Do yourself a favor and buy the precooked unless you like long, multi-step preparation …. Costco makes a nice version.
In all fat cases, do the full-fat version and do the grass-fed organic version when you can. One reason for this is that some reports indicate that a lot of the yuck and toxins stay in fat. The other reason is better flavor—less stabilizers, fillers, and additives, and more of the real deal.
Brown Butter. Technically calling this a “5” is misleading. It does take less than five minutes to start, but you can’t start it and then head to the grocery store or something.
Brown Butter how-to:
Put the butter of your choosing in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the butter has melted and starts to foam, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook the butter undisturbed until the milk solids are dark brown (they will look like dark crumbs at the bottom of the pan) and the butter has a light caramel color, about 30 minutes. Take care not to burn the butter or it will become bitter. Strain the butter through a fine-meshed sieve and let cool. Refrigerate for up to one month.
Alternative: You can cool then smash this together with a cube of softened butter to make brown-butter-flavored butter (I know—how ridiculous, but some people [my family] prefer a hint of brown butter versus the full deal). Try both and decide for yourself, but if you ARE a butter person, you owe this to yourself.
If you’re really feeling ****EXTRA****, make a whole bunch and freeze for later. Or use in your cookie recipe (omg!).
Bottom line. Guilt is one of the worst (AND least productive emotions, IMHO). Inject some mindfulness into how you eat and make deliberate choices. You don’t actually WANT to eat ALL the things; you DO want to eat the things that bring you joy. Take a sec to figure out the difference!
Using the “Is it a Hell, YEAH?” filter can cross over into many food exploits. Eat only what is amazing to YOU, NOT whatever’s put in front of you, or what you’ve always eaten, or what would hurt someone’s feelings if you didn’t eat it, or harboring some BS about how your being wasteful makes starving people starve more somewhere else. How could your eating something non-joy-sparking benefit anyone else? Decide if it’s a “Hell, Yeah!” before you order or buy something or shovel food into your mouth!
To living life, sans guilt + Skinny jeans!