Chewing the Fat

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Have you ever wondered which fat is the healthiest to use when baking?

To be honest, there has been so much talk about good fats and bad fats that I have a hard time keeping them straight.  I’m familiar with the  health benefits associated with using olive oil, but one website I found clearly stated that heating the olive oil did not give you the same health benefits as using it straight from the bottle.  Hmmm…

I have to admit I am typically a label reader if the products are side by side. But if the oil is in one isle and the butter is in a cooler in another isle then I don’t generally compare the two.

I usually bake with butter, margarine, vegetable oil, and vegetable shortening.  A lot of what I bake with is based on what it is that I’m baking.  For example, if I’m making a pie, I’m a die-hard vegetable shortening kind of gal.  Cookies, I prefer margarine, although sometimes I use butter depending on the type of cookie.  Cakes, um… I honestly think oils make a moister cake.  

So what’s good for you in the fat department and what’s not? I decided to do a little research and see if I could sort this mess out. 

First let me share this – none of the fats (surprise) have any significant nutritional values, or should I say, very little if any. 

Secondly, I found all kinds of warnings to  stay away from hydrogenated oils and shortenings that contain trans fats.  Pure oils and shortenings were recommended.  This is something to take into consideration when shopping. 

I got a wee bit nervous at the thought of giving up my pie baking so I looked a little farther and found that all of Crisco’s shortening products are now trans fat free and cholesterol free – yea!  I also found that many margarines are noted for having trans fats in them.  I recommend this article written by the Cleveland Clinic  to help clarify that  issue.

Not all fats are bad for you either.  This is where olive oil gets some recognition.  For a better explanation of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats see the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

My conclusion after all of this?  It is something that you may already know.  Butter seems to be the worst choice of the five for you.   It’s super high in saturated fat and has cholesterol.

Butter (1 tbsp.) 102 calories. 11.52g total fat, 7.294g saturated fat, 0.432g polyunsaturated fat, 2.985g monounsaturated fat, and 31mg of cholesterol. 

What I really couldn’t get over is the amount of calories found in each one of the fats I looked at.  The highest was vegetable oil which contained 120 calories in a 1 tablespoon serving – wow!  Olive oil came in second place with 119 calories per tablespoon.

I guess it stands to reason that non-fat yogurt and applesauce might be the best alternative to replace fats when baking.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you have a secret to limiting fats when you bake?  I’d love to hear it.


Bow-tie affair

Walking through the grocery store the other day I stumbled across boxes of different kinds of pasta.  Call me a pasta obsessed if you will, but I couldn’t help it that this Farfalle was calling my name.  Such cute little bow-ties.   I figured I could justify my purchase of them by making a pasta salad I  had lingering in the back of my mind for a while now. 


The salad is so simple.  I call it my Greek pasta salad. Cook the pasta according to the package.  Dice up red onion, cucumber, and tomato.  Add the veggies to the cooked pasta, along with crumbled feta cheese, a bit of parmesan,  halved black olives,  Italian seasoning, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.   That’s it… Enjoy!

Happy Hour!

Happy Hour at our house involves more than just a cocktail, it involves a great dinner created by two foodies who appreciate each others abilities to prepare, and devour.  And prepare and devour we did! 
The plan had been set in place earlier in the day with the standard question of “What’s for dinner tonight?”  It doesn’t matter who asks the question, what’s more important is who answers it.  I don’t know about you but sometimes it seems to be a painstaking task just trying to decide what to make for dinner.
After careful consideration of weighing our choices a plan emerged.  My husband would grill a couple of strip steaks, top them off with onions and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil, and throw some crumbled Stilton’s blue cheese on top.  He even decided to get out the sizzle platters for the occasion.
Happy Hour wouldn’t be that without a cocktail so I made a  giant white wine Spitzer.  I prefer to make these using (wine) ice cubes made with my favorite white wine.  Now keep in mind that alcohol doesn’t freeze entirely, if at all.  It depends on the sugar content, so the cubes have a slushy consistency.  After putting the cubes in a large wine glass add your favorite sparkling water.  I used a diet cranberry-raspberry.  Garnish with your favorite fruits.  I used a wedge of lemon, and some fresh raspberries from our garden.  Ooh, so refreshing, and low in calories.   I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Needless to say he did a superb job, and it’s a darn good thing the wine Spitzer was low cal!