Now, let’s all be very calm and not jump to conclusions. Please don’t stop reading this because you’re under the assumption that fats are bad… fats aren’t the villains “They” have led us to believe. (you know “They” … “They” say fats are bad, “They” say to avoid cholesterol, “They” are a real pain in my a$$!)
Chaos seems to set in when I start talking about recipes that utilize fats like Bacon Grease… Sometimes I forget that many of you are not already accepting saturated animal fats as a part of a healthy diet and most people are still using the wrong fats all together in their kitchens. (it makes me super sad, it’s the kind of thing that keeps me up at night and compelled me to start blogging in the first place… I needed a bigger audience than my family & friends)
I don’t claim to be an expert in food science or a nutritionist, however I’ve spent the past 10 years of my life looking for answers to the same questions many of you have…. What should I eat? What is a healthy diet? What am I doing wrong?.
You name the dietary theory, I’ve examined it. I’ve researched it from every angle. I’ve tested and tried it. I found that by looking at the past, we can learn what has worked and what failed miserably. Look at where “WE” are right now, it’s easily to agree over the past 100 years we’ve been progressively failing our health. The more we’ve moved to unnatural processed foods and away from regular old fashion Real Food, the sicker we’ve become.
I don’t have a single bullet theory, there are so many factors that need to be addressed.. but getting healthy, quality fats back into our daily diets is a HUGE step toward the positive.
Now, I’m going to be honest.. I’m not the person who is best suited to explain all the details and scientific data on healthy fats, but I am going to give you direct links to all the information you need to become as informed as I am. Sometimes it’s best to leave things to the experts, which I am not….. These are my favorite Fat-Links below:
- The Diet-Heart Myth: Cholesterol and Saturated Fat are not the Enemy by Chris Kresser
- The Soft Science of Dietary Fat by Gary Taubes
- Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol by Mary Enig
My role in your healthy journey it helping you translate what healthy ingredients you NEED to have in your diet into HEALTHY FOOD you can put on the table for you and your family to enjoy! We do eat a LOT of healthy FATS at our house, the way we cook and the foods we eat are often determined by healthy fats. In addition to the healthy cooking fats I’m going to discuss below, we also consume whole eggs, avocados and sardines as a part of our daily diet, variety is the spice of life and also FATS!
There are 2 types of “cooking” fats we use in our kitchen: Animal Fats & Plant Fats. (When I use the term “cooking” fats, I speaking in general terms of fats we use on foods or in preparation of foods, because not all are good for heated use)
Types of Healthy Animal Fats we use:
- Tallow – Beef Fat, aka Suet, is fat from a cow that is rendered down into Tallow.
- Lard, Pork Fat & Bacon Grease – Pork Fats are generally broken down into 3 categories; lard, other rendered pork fat and bacon grease (bacon fat, bacon drippings, etc) . Leaf Fat, which is the fat that surrounds the kidneys and loin, is rendered into Lard, it’s the best fat on a pig. Lard is considered a pure fat with a delicate flavor. All other pork fats can be rendered down the same way but are not as good as Lard, we just refer to those rendered fats as “pork fat.” Bacon Grease is the byproduct of cooking bacon. When you cook bacon, you are essentially rendering the solid fat into a liquid by heating, however instead of resulting in a mild/flavorless fat like lard or other rendered pork fats, it has been flavored by the seasoning/brine/smoking of the bacon. It can be used in place of any cooking fat, where the flavor of bacon would be yummy.. I even use is as the fat in the dressing for my Wilted Lettuce Salad.
- Schmaltz is rendered poultry fat, most often from chicken but can be from a duck or goose. (click HERE for more on making/using Schmaltz) Schmaltz is used frequently in traditional Jewish cuisine as both a cooking and seasoning fat.
- Butter & Ghee is made from Dairy Fat. When milk that has not been homogenized is allowed to sit undisturbed the cream (fat) will rise to the top (just how the fat from homemade soups/stocks/broths will rise to the top when you refrigerate it) Cream is churned (by adjitation) which causes the fat to separate from the liquid, the fat is butter. Butter can be made into Ghee when the butter is heated causing the milk solids/caesin to separate and can be removed, leaving only a pure butter fat. (click HERE for info on making Ghee)
Types of Plant Fats we use, these are little more self explanatory 🙂
- Coconut Oil is made from coconuts. It’s solid at room temperature and becomes liquid around 76 degrees F.
- Olive Oil is made from olives and it best used for salad dressing and other NON-HEATED foods. While olive oil is very healthy it becomes less healthy when heated…. stick to the other fats for cooking!
Did you notice many of the most popularly used fats aren’t on my list? There’s no canola oil, vegetable oil, soy, grapeseed, corn oil etc.. because they are the worst fats for you to ingest. Stop reading this and go throw them out right NOW….
You just tossed those yucky oils right?? If you didn’t toss them yet, please promise me you will later, ok?? Don’t forget to recycle those bottles!!!
One last point when talking about Healthy Fats, when selecting healthy fats, as with any food you eat, it’s vitally important to focus on QUALITY instead of quantity. Yes, quality foods are more expensive but they are more nutritious for your body. Animal Fats that you eat need to come from animals that were raised in sunshine and eating the foods their bodies were naturally designed to eat. Healthy animals make healthy food for us and keep our eco system on our planet healthy.. where as the cheap-factory-farm model produces sick animals that aren’t nourishing for our bodies and are contributing to the destruction of our farm land.
As we’ve progressed on our healthy journey with real foods, we’ve become more and more aware of our responsibility to utilize MORE of the animals that we use for food. It’s also about baby steps 🙂 I feel the 2 most under utilized fats in todays kitchens are Bacon Grease and Schmaltz. They are both highly versatile and are essentially FREE!
I’m dedicating an entire separate post to Schmaltz, the other yellow fat… coming soon….
Never throw away the bacon grease/fat/drippings that are left after you fry bacon…always save it. Keep a jar of bacon grease in the fridge, keep adding to it each time you make bacon (I just pour mine directly in the jar though a small metal strainer)…. you can then use your bacon grease as a cooking fat whenever a bacon flavor would be beneficial.
Here’s some ideas of when to use bacon grease:
- Fried eggs taste heavenly when cooked in bacon grease
- Saute onions & mushrooms in bacon grease to top a steak
- Make a warm salad dressing for spinach salad or use in my Wilted Salad
- Greens are best cooked in bacon grease
I hope all of this wasn’t too overwhelming for you. I try to keep my posts short and sweet but sometimes I need to give you lots of information 🙂