Monday, February 16, 2015

Bring on the Butter! The New "Health Food"

By Cal Orey

"Pass the butter--especially the right kind and right amount. This 20th century forbidden saturated fat is a new “health food” in 21st century."  The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised
In moderation butter boasts health perks

Author cooks/bakes with butter
paired with oils for health and

superior flavor and texture
Pass the butter, please! Several years ago, after I penned the first edition of The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, I confess I bought butter. I ate it on the sly. I could have written a real-life book on Confessions of a Butter Eater.  
            One day I told my dear friend/olive oil producer’s wife Gemma Sciabica, “I like to bake with it.”
            She darted, “It’s animal fat.”
            And, of course, being a health author and devout health nut I listened to the women decades my senior, and sensed she was right, sort of. After all, olive oil has a record of being heart healthy, and can add  years to your life. But I continued to buy, eat, and cook/bake with rich European style butter. Ironically, both my blood pressure and weight maintain the same healthful numbers, I rarely get sick and enjoy boundless energy. So, I have pondered, “Is real butter, like dark chocolate and coffee, good for you used in moderation?
            Desperately seeking to be thin, too many of us have gone fat-free “crazy,” but haven’t shed the unwanted pounds. Worse, some people have gained weight on no-fat diets. The reason is that fat-free foods contain sugar and calories, but we gobble them up thinking that they’re okay because they’re fat free. I recall years ago, I’d buy and “healthy” margarine with less calories. Not only did it taste like cardboard, I rebelled and became a closet butter eater.

            How much butter should you eat?  It’s a no-brainer you’re not going to stay lean and heart healthy if you eat a stick of butter daily. But note, if you don’t eat enough fat, such as butter, you’ll end up unsatisfied nd eventually you’ll go off your diet plan. That’s why you should incorporate a small amount of fats such as butter into your daily diet. Past research compares a low-fat diet with a high-fat diet (mostly from good fats). After time, high-fat eaters lost pounds, low-fat dieters gained pounds. The reason, according to researchers: Fatty foods, such as avocado, chocolate nuts, olive oil, and butter curb hunger by satisfying the desire for some fat.
            But I didn’t need a study to give me permission to eat butter. For several years to present-day, I incorporated flavorful butters with olive oils in sautéing vegetables to baking muffins. Not only did my dishes taste better by pairing the oil and fat, but I am hardly alone. I notice chefs in the Mediterranean countries back in the 20th century combined butter and olive oil, too.
            Enter my world of butter, a by-product of milk. That means it’s 80 percent fat with the rest water and milk solids. Butter is a mix of fats: saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. It boasts some calcium, potassium, and plenty of vitamin A.

            The World of Butter: Good butter can help make great sauces, cakes, pastry, can and cookies.  Butter can be salted or sweet, and chefs favor unsalted butter for its mild flavor.  Speaking of taste, European style “cultured” butters are what I favor and use in my recipes. True, they are higher in fat, but for taste’s sake, it’s worth it...

Minted Citrus Tea Cookies
* * *
2/3 cup flour                                                               ¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt                                                         1/3 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar                                            ½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoons grated lemon peel                                1 ½ teaspoons grated lime peel
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh                              ¼ cup extra light olive oil
mint or 1 tablespoon finely chopped                           1 egg
rosemary                                                                 sugar
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in small mixing bowl; set aside. Cream butter, granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar, lemon and lime peels and mint in large mixing bowl. Blend in olive oil and eggs. Stir in flour mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350 F.
Shape dough into 3/5-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Dip tops in sugar; place on baking sheet, sugared side up. Flatten to 1/8-inch thickness with fork or bottom of drinking glass dipped in granulated sugar. Bake 7 to 11 minutes, or until cookies appear set in center. Carefully remove cookies from pan immediately. Cool on wire rack.
(Courtesy: North American Olive Oil Association.)

Excerpt from The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised and Updated -- You can grab a copy at most bookstores (click on link to find out where!)

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