What is healthy food?

It’s the New Year. We’ve all made resolutions and many of them will be about food. Eating healthy is a topic that you see in the news, on the internet and even in restaurants. But what does eating healthy mean? Are we all marching to the same drummer on that idea? I would love to know your thoughts on this, because I must admit, I find it confusing…

I have often shaken my head about all the kinds of diets you can follow now; not only are there vegetarians, vegans, fruitarians, paleo and South Beach and Atkins people but then there are diet plans and supplements as well. Do you have to be on a diet to be healthy? Or does dieting mean that you are NOT healthy?

I started thinking about this blog post when I saw a post on Facebook from someone I follow.

butter

“Pass The Butter … Please. This is interesting . .. . Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavourings…. DO YOU KNOW.. The difference between margarine and butter? Both have the same amount of calories. Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine. Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study. Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods. Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because they are added! Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods. Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years . And now, for Margarine.. Very High in Trans fatty acids. Triples risk of coronary heart disease … Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol) Increases the risk of cancers up to five times.. Lowers quality of breast milk Decreases immune response. Decreases insulin response. And here’s the most disturbing fact… HERE IS THE PART THAT IS VERY INTERESTING! Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC… and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT. These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance). Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things: * no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something) * it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow.
Why? Because it is nearly plastic . Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?
you used to have to squeeze the colour tablet into the margarine to turn it yellow.

you used to have to squeeze the colour tablet into the margarine to turn it yellow.


Isn’t social media a powerful communication tool?  I haven’t been able to verify all the details but you get the idea. Margarine may not be one molecule from plastic, but it really doesn’t attract flies. It was not created to feed turkeys however, but rather was commissioned by Napolean III in France in the 1860’s for use by the armed forces and lower classes, and was popularized during the World Wars with dairy shortages that made butter expensive and rare. Did you know that margarine was banned in Canada until 1948 when the Supreme Court of Canada allowed its sale in stores.

There are pages on Facebook dedicated to all kinds of eating. I enjoy one called 100 Days of Real Food which at least has fun showcasing a diet that contains no processed food for her family. I think if you’re going to cut anything out, even if it’s junk, you should still remember to keep your sense of humour.

I don’t need convincing that the natural state of butter is a better choice than the more processed substance called margarine. I like the taste; if I want something with less fat, I’ll use olive oil, thank you. But I’m not going to point and stare at someone buying margarine, either. So imagine my surprise to see this new trend announced in a New York Times article, a system in restaurants that denotes approval from a panel of nutritionists. It’s called SPE, which stands for a Latin phrase that means “health through food”, and they say the basis of their concept is great flavours. So far, so good, until they explain that butter and cream are ingredients they won’t include. Say what?? I’m  with French Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in New York, who says he doesn’t believe in demonizing ingredients. Or as Julia Child was known to say, “if you’re afraid to use butter, use cream”. I’ll close with another of her quotes that I think shows a healthy attitude and sense of humour:

The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.

this is as close as we get to diet food at Rabbit Hollow. It comes from the garden in the summer,

this is as close as we get to diet food at Rabbit Hollow. It comes from the garden in the summer.

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About happygourmand

I am a professional gourmande - a lover of life. Not only food and drink, but life in general. I love experiencing life to its fullest, and I love sharing my adventures with others.

Posted on January 10, 2013, in education, food, history, reference, trend and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Yea for butter!! I remember when we colored the margarine. And, I remember the taste. Yuck! So, now that we have established without a doubt that butter is better what about the variant tastes of butter in other countries? I remember the first time I tasted European butter & wondered what I was eating.
    And speaking of other countries & ingredients, would love to have some feedback on substitutions for ‘usual’ Canadian ingredients. In Mexico at present, an expat (mostly US) community, but staples are difficult. Flour a challenge, butter very different etc. Altho the garlic shrimp don’t seem to suffer the bread for drippings does! Input anyone? Don’t want to not eat local recipes but must admit that pastry or the odd appie (gourgere) wouldn’t go amiss. Tortillas are great, especially the corn but not all the time. And what does that say about how spoiled I am?!
    Cheers
    N.

    • Thanks for the comment! I fear you may be a victim of “cuisine de terroir” – when your cooking reflects the place as much, if not more, than the cook. Sometimes it can be a fun thing, but when you’re looking to stretch to incorporate international flavours, it sounds like it doesn’t always translate 🙂
      The only suggestion I can offer as I am ignorant of the specifics in Mexican ingredients (i.e. why they are so different) is to “go with the flow”. Think of recipes that incorporate less flour and will work with oils instead of butter.
      I posted a recipe for Milk Tart that should interest you – a sort of flan, but with a biscuit crust. You could substitute a vegetable oil for butter with the crumbs. And instead of a gougere, how about a quesadilla with that fresh cheese and some interesting herbs or spices and dipping salsa?
      If worse comes to worst, open another cerveza and enjoy the sunset – cheers!

  2. I just read another great post about this topic so I wanted to link to it here – great info on working with kids to have them eat healthy…
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-tyler-lee/eat-healthy-food_b_2429085.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

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