Watching Fats

I know a lot of women who still cook with bacon grease on a daily basis. When I was growing up, it was kept in a coffee can beside the stove. The breakfast bacon fat was dumped in, then used later for most savory dishes served at lunch and supper.

As you may know, that is now heavily frowned upon. Bacon fat can clog up your arteries. It’s not a healthy fat. Neither, for that matter, are lard, butter and shortening. The debate about margarines is still going strong also.

So, what are heart healthy fats? In the cooking department, we’re pretty much limited to olive and/or canola oil. We used to have a third member of that group, palm oleic oil, but that has been debunked. It must now sit next to lard as an unhealthy cooking fat.

If you do a lot of cooking, you recognize that this is going to put a damper on many favorite recipes. How can you make green beans almondine without bacon? What can you do to replace butter in sugar cookies? For the time being, not much can be done.

There are a few things to consider when making choices about fats. There are plants with heart healthy fats in them. The avocado is one of them. I don’t see it replacing butter in cookies or bacon in green beans, but it could lead to another dish or two with some experimentation.

Second, there are some phenomenal new products available that can be useful. I use a product that is fifty percent canola oil and fifty percent butter. It doesn’t take much, but it certainly adds that familiar flavor to some dishes. However, I don’t recommend it for sugar cookies.

Third is something that doctors may not understand, but as a cook who has been dealing with this issue for almost seven years I can tell you. Avoiding all use of butter and bacon is going to create a mutiny, both in your own mind and in that of your family. While it shouldn’t be used in every meal every day, a little bit can prevent the entire family from saying, “the heck with this diet, I want to *eat!*”

We do have to watch the fat in our diets, but some is needed. We also have to watch the mental health of those on the diet. Believe me. I’ve got seven years of experience here.

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