A few weeks ago, I posted about the nutritional philosophies of my beloved Michael Pollan, journalist and food activist extraordinaire. Pollan believes that the American diet has been seriously skewed over the last 50 years, coinciding with the boom of the food, fast food, junk food, and nutrition industries- a theory I agree with. He’s also the author of my favorite food quote: “Eat food. Not too much, Mostly plants.” Perfect summary! As an interesting part of his belief in a diet comprised of simple, minimally processed, whole foods, Pollan, along with many others in the food community, suggests that the fat-free craze of the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s and the subsequent elimination of fat from our diets contributed to the current American obesity epidemic.
Wait, what? Fat-free diets made us fat?
You betcha. In the 1970’s, as heart disease rates crept upward, Americans were so desperate for a quick fix that we bought into new and shaky nutrition guidelines telling us that all dietary fat was bad. We stripped it from our diets, following the guidelines and replacing fat with sugar and carbs. And not just any carbs- highly refined, nutritionally void, calorie-dense carbs. But what if we’d replaced the fat with complex carbs!, you may argue, whole grains and fiber and brown rice and glycogen stores and all that!, you may say. Exactly. As NPR’s Allison Aubrey pointed out in her piece about the fat-free craze, “…the kinds of carbs the authors of the [nutrition] guidelines had in mind were whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But this message was lost in translation. What did Americans hear? Fat is bad; carbs are good.” Enter the food industry, cleverly sweeping in to replace fat with tasty, “guilt-free,” high sugar, highly processed, and, most importantly, highly profitable alternatives.
Think sugary, fat-free cookies and muffins.
Think WOW! chips made with Olestra and their hilariously horrifying warning labels.
Think fat-free salad dressing: remove all fat, replace with sugar and corn syrup. Check out the ingredient list of Kraft’s Fat Free Italian:
Ingredients: WATER, VINEGAR, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, SALT, PARMESAN CHEESE* (PART-SKIM MILK, CHEESE CULTURE, SALT, ENZYMES), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF GARLIC, ONION JUICE, WHEY, PHOSPHORIC ACID, XANTHAN GUM, YEAST EXTRACT, SPICE, RED BELL PEPPERS*, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, GARLIC*, BUTTERMILK*, CARAMEL COLOR, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, ENZYMES, OLEORESIN PAPRIKA, POTASSIUM SORBATE AND CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (TO PROTECT FRESHNESS). *DRIED. CONTAINS: MILK.
How are sugar, corn syrup, and preservatives better for the body than good old olive oil and vinegar? Simply put, they’re not. The sky-high obesity and diabetes rates that followed the food industry-benefitting industrialized diet have shown us just that. Super-sized portions, added sugars at every turn, and carby convenience foods to pander to our too-busy lifestyles blew us up and pulled us away from cooking the way our grandmothers did, which we realize now wasn’t such a bad way to cook.
One particularly vocal advocate of the benefits of fat and the detriments of sugar is triathlete Sami Inkinen. Inkinen, founder of Trulia, is a freak of nature athlete and computer-brain from some far-off Nordic land where the clean air, snow-capped mountains, and crystal clear streams produce people like him all the time. He’s so convinced that fat consumption is essential to building a healthy human body (and that sugar is toxic) that this June, he and his wife are rowing- unsupported -the 2400 miles from San Francisco to Hawaii, consuming mostly protein and fat to prove their point. This is a triathlete, mind you- a person you might think would preach a high-carb diet for energy, but no. He maintains a no added sugar diet and a moderate carbohydrate intake. Inkinen’s way of approaching carbs and fighting sugar may seem extreme, but it’s definitely interesting; his stellar triathlon performance certainly doesn’t betray his nutrition principles. You can follow and donate to the Fat Chance Row’s noble fight against sugar at FatChanceRow.org.
So, what now, masters Pollan and Inkinen? Here we are in 2014- overweight, over-medicated, cutting sugar and reintroducing simple, whole foods to our diets. And learning (with trepidation) how to reintroduce healthy fats to our diets. Nuts, coconut and coconut oil, olive oil, olives, fish if you eat it, organic dairy if you eat it, avocado, flax, chia, seeds, and so many more sources await a healthier you. Run from sugar. Embrace healthy fats for a healthy weight and a happy, healthy body.
Now let’s have some fun with a giveaway!
Cute logo, huh? I think so, too. My Coconut Kitchen is a Lake St. Louis-based company that specializes in luscious coconut butters chock full of the healthy fat and amino acids your body needs for healthy cell building and repair. Owner, athlete, and coconut whisperer Angie Carl expertly whips toasted, unsweetened coconut and natural flavors into versatile spreads. Her wide flavor selection ranges from classic toasty coconut to cherry-almond. And it gets better- check out the coconut butter’s impressive nutritional information.
I ordered my first 3-pack last week and brought it to my in-laws’ house. Sharing in itself was a deserted island-style gamble, as we all love to eat… I made it home with one jar. The five of us slathered the delicious spreads onto fruit and crackers and mixed it into coffee, tea, groats, and yogurt. To be honest, I ate more than a bit straight off the spoon. More honesty: I regret nothing. My Coconut Kitchen has a whole slew of ideas for how else to use the butters:
- In smoothies, protein shakes and oatmeal
- Spread on banana, apple or zucchini bread
- On top of yogurt, cottage cheese, cereal or granola
- Warmed up and used as a dip for fruit, cookies, or drizzled over bacon
- Spread on pancakes, French toast, crepes or a peanut butter sandwich
- Drizzled over ice cream or frozen yogurt
- Mixed with red hot sauce and served with chicken, shrimp of veggies
- In one of their tasty recipes < check out this amazing, chef-created list!
- Straight off of the spoon! < Lauren tested and approved
I want to try them all! I’m especially excited to add some to our favorite sweet potato and red lentil soup the next time I make it. Coconut butter enthusiasts out of the area can order the entire range of My Coconut Kitchen products online, and St. Louis area locals can find Angie’s coconut butters at Local Harvest, Freddie’s Market, O’Fallon Nutrition, Emerge Fitness Training, and at a variety of farmer’s markets and local events each month.
For today’s post, Angie has graciously provided allez! gourmet with a 3-pack sampler of 8-oz jars for our first giveaway! Thanks, Angie! To enter to win the sampler, which includes roasty toasty coconut, cherry on top, and Cooper loves chocolate, follow allez! gourmet and leave a comment in the section below. Tell me how YOU incorporate healthy fats into YOUR diet! One winner will be selected at random Wednesday (4/9) at 11:30 am CST and announced on next week’s Thursday entry (4/10).
As always, thanks for reading- and good luck!