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Tuesday, July 22, 2008


In Canada, I remember the days when butter was suddenly bad for one and we were told it would be wise to switch to margarine (the soft spreadable, yellow-colored kind). There were some margarines that were considered healthier than others and we chose one that was considered healthy but was also a little cheaper than the leading brand, Becel. It came in big tubs by comparison to the small containers for Becel and was called Country Crock. Through the years while the boys were very young, and possibly before they were born, we consumed hundreds of these tubs of trans fat containing margarine. Ian's dad, a medical doctor, in Cape Town South Africa told us even then that margarine was not preferable to butter, but we did not believe him unfortunately. Several years later there was a big hoopla as we were told to switch from margarine back to butter - oops they had made a mistake!! What about how that mistake affected people's health? Too bad, hey?! Remember the time that eggs were thought to increase cholesterol in the body and how for years they were vilified? That myth still abounds in the minds of many doctors and lay people. Change is very slow in coming! We know that to be true: look at the slow acceptance of Low Carb Diets for people with diabetes as a case in point.

In the Globe and Mail, Toronto, yesterday, there was an article re trans fats in margarines and I'll quote from it to show that change has been very slow in coming. It has been many years since the general public has been informed of the dangers of trans fats.

"The task force, a partnership between Health Canada and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, said that while numerous fast-food restaurants have cut trans fats sharply, many margarine producers have resisted change. Trans fats, which are typically cheaper than other oils, have become a dominant ingredient for many restaurants and food manufacturers in recent decades because they provide a rich texture and long shelf life. Health organizations and advocacy groups have led a major campaign against trans fats, which have been linked to elevated unhealthy cholesterol levels and increased risks of coronary heart disease."

They discovered that most margarines still contain more than 15% trans fats!

This is a clever way to make butter healthier and higher in monounsaturated fats. The taste is just like butter, plus it spreads easily straight from the refrigerator.  This is what I use: Members Selection, Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil Imported from Italy (2 L bottle) from the equivalent of Costco.

1 lb salted butter (4 sticks), softened
1 1/2 to 2 cups light-tasting olive oil* (see Helpful Hints below)  (I use 2 cups with my butter - there may be differences and you may have to adjust the next time)

In blender or food processor, process butter and olive oil until soft, creamy and smooth. Turn out (using a soft spatula) into plastic container with lid and refrigerate until set.

Yield: 3 cups, 1 tsp per serving, 42.5 calories, 0.0 g pro, 4.8 g fat, 0.0 g carbs

*Helpful Hints: I usually double this recipe as it lasts long in the refrigerator. Choose an olive oil that has no perceptible taste (the green one is stronger tasting), so that it doesn't overpower the taste of the butter. If per chance the olive oil overpowers the butter taste, then use that Healthy Butter for frying and cooking. Now here is the thing: It really depends on your butter, however, the brand that I use now requires 4 sticks of butter and two cups of olive oil. A little bit of trial and error will find your perfect Healthy Butter Recipe! My family will not do without it!

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