Much Ado About Butter

butter2In trying to be healthy, one of the first things we thought to cut out of our diet was butter. However, many recipes for “healthy” versions of our favorite foods, like pancakes, waffles, dinner rolls, and even the vegan cinnamon rolls I made the other day, they all call for some kind of butter, margarine, or butter alternative.

So when I asked my husband to go to the store and pick up ingredients for “homemade” and presumably healthier cinnamon rolls, he asked me (via text message, because we’re so cool like that), he said “Butter? or margarine?” and that’s when I realized I was facing a conundrum.

Butter was high in saturated fat, and bad for my heart, helping to raise the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). However, margarine has long been known to be not only a processed food (and I dislike processed anything when I can avoid it), but it is also high in transfat–which is worse for my heart than saturated fat. (see the full article from Harvard on butter vs margarine here)

SO. which one? Well, we opted for an olive oil based spread, trying to hit the middle as best we could but now I think that wasn’t the best choice. Instinctively, I feel that butter is better. The totally unprocessed, made from real cows milk–the kind you’d get if you went to an Amish Farm. If you don’t have ready access to an Amish Farm, you can order it online, or our local grocery store actually carries butter made by the local Amish. 100DaysofRealFood lists a product called “Ghee” that is unclarified butter which apparently has even less lactose than real butter, so if you have a dairy intolerance that one might work for you. Check it out here.

Incidentally, that article also gives a great outline of different oils and which ones are better for your body. (the post says “By Lisa, but it has a bio for Carrie Vitta at the bottom of the article, so I’m not sure which one wrote it, but it is excellent either way, so check it out.)

If you’re wanting to avoid butter all together, though,(food allergy?) here are some healthier (less cholesterol ridden) Options that are also natural, and unprocessed.

Olive oil and coconut oil can be stored in the fridge (in ice cube trays), will harden, and work like a spread. **Don’t just put the olive oil bottle in the fridge. That’s hard to work with. (source)

You can substitute oil for butter in many recipes, including cookies and cakes. (Source)

Avocado, Tahini, and nut butters make excellent spreads on toast. (source)

Olive oil is great for dipping bread. (I personally LOVE this one. Foccacia, anyone?)


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