I remember the days when toast tasted sweet and buttery. Then butter substitutes like margarine arrived on the scene. I had to believe margarine was the answer to my butter health woes. After all, butter has saturated fats which is bad for heart health. What happened to my sweet, creamy reason to eat toast? Americans have had a complicate relationship with butter for as long as I can remember.
Margarine for Butter?
Margarine contains unsaturated fat, so eating margarine is better than the saturated fat of butter? Not necessarily. In 2014, the Annals of Internal Medicine published an article that stated that eating less saturated fat (butter) does NOT lower a person’s risk for heart disease. Happy day! Of course, we cannot ignore that if eaten in large quantities, butter will contribute to obesity. That is not good.
The fact is that butter is natural, made from milk, whereas margarine is chemically altered. Margarine might be low in saturated fat, but what about trans fat?
Nutrition labels, according to the FDA, must list both saturated fats and trans fats. What you are looking for is LIMITED saturated fats and NO trans fats.
Wow, are you confused yet? I am. One of the most famous butter substitutes claims to have no trans fat. Well, that is good, right? Contrary to belief, the famous label does include palm kernel and palm oil, both tropical oils heavy with saturated fat.
Back to the Drawing Board
I personally feel that whatever choice I make is the wrong one. This is my conclusion. I will use butter on my toast and perhaps a pat on my potato. For all other cooking adventures, I am using a substitute that is a natural good fat. To be honest, in cooking and in baking, I do not miss butter at all. I discovered olive oil. You can find other natural substitutes for butter in this article. Read more.
Olive oil is my favorite fat. In cooking I never use a lot. The pure flavor is easy on the palate and in small quantities good for your health. Here is a recipe that is light and flavorful. My mom served this at least once a week with the Sicilian salad.
Spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes (Spaghetti aglio e olio)
- 1 lb dried spaghetti (I like thin)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
- Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions.
- Drain pasta in a colander. Reserve 2 tbsp to use later. Refrain from rinsing the pasta.
- Heat EVOO in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and saute until light brown. DO NOT BURN. Garlic becomes bitter if overcooked.
- Remove garlic from the oil and dispose of it.
- Add the red pepper and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the pasta and toss until completely coated in oil mixture.
- Add the reserved pasta water and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the herbs.
Wine: Chianti, Sauvignon Blanc, or Chardonnay
When I am using an original recipe from Dot or Uncle Tony, I don’t mess with the ingredients. I just remember “Everything in Moderation”.