Let’s talk about replacing highly processed fats with healthy fats in your home.
My goal for my family is to reduce processed foods and replace those with real foods with natural ingredients. If I can easily substitute a product that does not include processed ingredients without spending a lot of extra money, I will do it.
Before I started my healthy living journey, my grocery shopping included vegetable oil and margarine. As I learned more about processed foods, I started making healthier substitutions.
Vegetable oil is often highly processed and genetically modified. Margarine is highly processed with added chemicals. Our bodies are not prepared to breakdown these ingredients.
Now I buy 3 healthy fats for use in my kitchen.
- unsalted butter
- organic coconut oil
- olive oil
I also save and use bacon grease. A grilled cheese sandwich made with bacon grease is delicious! (I’m still a work in progress!)
My choices are not necessarily the best choices, and they may not be the best choices for your family. This is only intended to give you some ideas of where you could start.
This was one of the first changes I made when I decided to reduce processed foods in our home. I started buying real butter instead of margarine, in both stick and tub form.
There are so many cheaper, butter flavored spreads that have multiple scientific-sounding ingredients. I encourage you to start buying real butter, which is made from cream and sometimes natural flavorings. It is possible to find brands that just contain sweet cream.
I buy my butter at Aldi. You can find stick butter in salted and unsalted varieties. I buy the unsalted variety because I feel it is more versatile in recipes.
Butter replaces margarine and shortening for cooking and baking in my kitchen.
How to make the change
In general, real butter is more expensive than margarine. With no more than we use, that cost is hardly noticeable in our overall grocery expenses. It is easy to start buying stick butter instead of stick margarine. You just have to grab the package that either says salted butter or unsalted butter (but definitely not “butter flavored”).
Making the change to a spreadable butter out of a tub is not as easy. Real butter is not easily spreadable out of the refrigerator. Therefore you either need to remember to pull it out about a half hour before you plan to use it or buy tub butter with an added ingredient, like olive oil, to make it more spreadable. I choose a small tub of butter with olive oil added because I am lazy and we don’t use it all that often.
I buy organic unrefined, cold-pressed, organic coconut oil from Aldi. Unrefined coconut oil has a mild coconut flavor.
I use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil in recipes where I don’t mind a slight coconut flavor, like pancakes and brownies. I also sometimes add coconut oil to my coffee to make it a more filling morning treat.
How to make the change
Coconut oil is solid below 76°F and liquid at higher room temperatures. It is best stored at room temperature and will fluctuate in consistency based on your home’s temperature.
Coconut oil can be melted to replace vegetable oil or melted butter in many recipes. Be careful when adding cold ingredients, like milk or eggs, to melted coconut oil. The oil will begin to solidify upon contact with cold substances. Either let cold ingredients reach room temperature, or blend coconut oil with other recipe ingredients first.
You can also use coconut oil in solid form to replace solid butter or margarine in recipes. Just be aware of how the coconut flavor can affect the recipe you are using.
I use olive oil in place of vegetable oil and cooking spray.
Olive oil is my liquid oil of choice because it is higher in monounsaturated fats. I worry about the balance between omega-6s and omega-3s in cooking oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats. You can read more about that here. I feel like I probably get enough polyunsaturated fats from everything else I eat
How to make the change
Instead of using cooking spray, I’ll spread olive oil (or any of the other above oils) on pans using my fingers.
I have also had good results from replacing vegetable oil with olive oil in baked recipes where I may not want the flavor of coconut oil, like homemade bread.
All of these healthy fats that I have mentioned have a low smoke point of around 350°F. This means these fats are not recommended for high heat, stove top cooking because these oils will burn and stink up your house. (Ask me how I know.) You can read more about smoke points here.
I don’t do much high-heat cooking on my stove top, so this isn’t a problem for me.
Butter, coconut oil, and olive oil are my healthy fats of choice for use in my kitchen. My choices are not necessarily the best choices, and they may not be the best choices for your family.
How can you replace unhealthy fats, like margarine and vegetable oil, with healthy fats in your own kitchen?