THE BIG FAT TRUTH: GOOD FATS, BAD FATS
While the low-fat craze ran strong for a long time, our bodies actually need fat—without it our brains and nerves wouldn’t function properly. Not only that, but some foods must be accompanied by fat for their nutrients and fat-soluble vitamins to be absorbed. That’s right salad fans, to get the nutrients from your lettuce leaves, they need a dressing with fat. But all fats are not created equal, and since it’s National Nutrition Month, it’s time to set things straight.
“Good” unsaturated fats can be found in vegetarian sources and fatty fish. Avocados, olives and olive oil, nuts, seeds, salmon, anchovies, sardines and trout all contain unsaturated fats that can help to lower your risk of heart disease. I’m sure you’ve heard about omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat. Omega-3s are vital for brain functioning and emotional health, and are found in fish, walnuts and flaxseed, as well as Brussels sprouts, kale, and parsley believe it or not. So eat up!
“Bad” trans fats are actually unsaturated fatty acids that have been manipulated with hydrogen to increase shelf life and texture. But along with the hydrogen comes an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. These partially hydrogenated oils are cheap and easy to use, and are thus quite common in processed foods. However, they raise “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, and lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels. So stay away!
As for saturated fats, it seems the jury is still out. Meat and animal products such as beef, milk, butter and cheese all contain saturated fats. As does coconut oil, which has recently been touted as a wonder fat! Some say that all saturated fats increase the risk of heart disease, while others say that the quality and source of saturated fat play a large role, and some may be beneficial. So at this point consider the source, and moderate.
EAT & DRINK
SPRING SALAD WITH SALMON by Cravingsinamsterdam
For the Salad:
½ cup of amaranth
2 avocados, thinly sliced
300gr salmon filet, without the skin
1 bunch of asparagus
1 cup of edamame
3 handfuls of lamb’s lettuce (aka veldsla)
3 poached eggs
For the dressing:
2 rhubarb stalks, sliced & then boiled for 5 minutes
½ cup of apple cider vinegar
½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons of agave syrup
2 teaspoons of red miso paste
Salt to taste
First cook the amaranth—boil it for 15 minutes and then drain it with a very fine mesh strainer. Set aside.
To make the dressing, boil the sliced rhubarb for 5 minutes. Drain it, and then blend it with the rest of the ingredients except for the salt. The miso paste is already quite salty so taste first. Set aside.
Cook the edamame as instructed on the package. I get mine frozen and still in the pod, and I just put it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes.
I prefer to buy the small, thin asparagus because they don’t need any preparation except for washing them, and they cook faster. If you get the big asparagus, just snap off the woody ends. Over medium-high heat, add a bit of olive oil to a pan. Add the asparagus, salt and lemon pepper. Sauté the asparagus for a couple of minutes until they are crisp and tender. Set aside.
To prepare the salmon, slice the filet into 9 pieces. Season with lemon pepper and salt. Over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pan. Add the salmon and pan-fry it for about 2 minutes on each side. Set aside.
To poach the eggs, fill a pot with boiling water. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of white vinegar, and bring it to a boil. I like to poach one egg at a time. Crack an egg into a glass or cup. Use a spoon or spatula to stir the boiling water in one direction to form a whirlpool. Carefully drop the egg in the middle of the whirlpool. Let it poach for 3 minutes and then remove it with a slotted spoon. Set aside and repeat for the remaining eggs.
To plate the salad, first arrange some of the avocado slices, lamb’s lettuce and edamame on each plate, then add some of the asparagus and sprinkle some of the amaranth. Then place 3 pieces of salmon in the middle and place the poached egg on top. Finish off with some micro watercress and flowers. I like to serve the dressing on the side.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE WALNUT COOKIES by Sarah_Phillips
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder (can substitute with Natural cocoa-powder, but the flavor and color will not be as intense)
3 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
Position an oven rack each in the upper and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
Sift together the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Clamp the bowl onto a stand mixer and fit it with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 minute to combine ingredients.
With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the egg whites and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. It should be rather thick and fudgy looking. Add the walnuts and fold in by hand with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
With a 2-ounce cookie or ice cream scoop or a generous tablespoon, scoop the 6 cookies worth of batter onto each of the prepared baking sheets, about 3-inches apart. The batter will spread and make cookies that are 4-inches in diameter.
Place in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly cracked and appear dull on the surface. Only if baking unevenly, switch and rotate the pans halfway through.
Slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto a wire cooling rack, and let cool completely before removing. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 to 3 days. To extend the shelf life, store in the refrigerator for one week. Cookies freeze nicely for a month or more.
Makes 6 cookies