Dr. Gourmet Says... Eat - Don't Eat

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Dr. Gourmet Says... Eat - Don't Eat: October 9, 2007


Butter. Yep, that's right, butter. Just don't eat a lot of it. I use butter in many recipes, but I use it sparingly to enhance the flavor of a dish. (Sometimes nothing but that buttery flavor will do.) It also adds a creaminess to sauces where no other fat will work quite as well. You just don't need a half stick to make a dish work. Usually a teaspoon or so per serving is enough, in an otherwise carefully made sauce, to be just right.

Eat spreads, too. I look for either Promise® or Smart Balance. Until a few years ago I wouldn't have used margarines, but spreads are different. They are made like margarines, with vegetable oil and water, but they are lower in fat than margarines and these days usually have very little or no saturated fat. Unlike margarines, they also have no trans fats. But keep in mind that they still have fat and calories.

There are both regular spreads and light versions available. The regular have about 85 calories and 9 grams of fat and light spreads about 45 calories and 5 grams of fat. I generally use the light versions in making herbed butters and such, but for some sauces the regular higher calorie spread is called for to get the same creaminess as butter.

Don't Eat

Margarine. There was a day when butter was bad - and then good again. During the bad butter time dietitians and nutritionists were telling people to use margarine.

The problem was that no one knew that it wasn't just fat that was bad for you but the type of fat. While we knew that saturated fat was an issue, it is trans fats that probably play a more important role in creating health problems. Fewer and fewer margarines on the market have trans fats, but margarines are still high in saturated fat. And if you're going to use stick margarine, you might as well use butter since it tastes better.

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