I never thought much about this saying, but while prepping for a little talk on Refreshing Your Pantry in the new year at our local library, I was reminded about the essentiality of fats and oils in our diet.
These long winter days spent quarantining while feeding a new baby have certainly demanded high quality fat. Though I haven’t found research pointing to needing MORE fat while nursing, there is evidence that eating high quality fats is important for mom and baby’s brain.
Suffice it to say, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to try to answer my body’s call for fat (dry, cracked heels and fried food cravings) with salmon, cream, and my husband’s straight-from-the-farm-made butter.
I jokingly tell my husband he’s buttering me up when he brings home a half a gallon of cream…. and I suddenly find myself making crème brulee and forcing the grandparents to shake a container of cream to make butter because, inexplicably, we are out of it AGAIN!
A visit to my grandmother’s house a couple weeks ago revealed an interesting artifact inspiring me to think more about fat… a roster for The New England Fat Man’s Club from 1912. In an article inside, my great, great grandfather is reported to be the largest man in Western Massachusetts, weighing in at 430 pounds. A nod to an era gone-by, the club celebrates fat as the ultimate symbol of prosperity and well-being. Even if it did kill Frank J. Hunt at 51. An article from the local newspaper marvels at the largest pair of trousers ever made for him by an Orange trouser company, a 72 inch waist, speaks to FJ Hunt’s girth with a candid description, “For many years he’s operated a milk route and done hard manual labor, but in his case it’s never acted as a flesh reducer in his case.” One can only imagine what a little Nutritional Therapy wisdom may have revealed about dear Frank’s fatty acid balance.
It’s important for all of us to avoid too much of a good thing. When it comes to fat, avoiding trans fats, and balancing our omega-6 fat intake (think most roasted nuts, fried food and our favorite processed food snacks) with omega-3 fats (think seafood, eggs, and grass-fed beef) is essential. I’ve been enjoying re-reading Lily Nichol’s “Real Food Pregnancy” and visiting her website for updates and inspiration in the sphere of pregnancy and postpartum nutrition.
Let’s just say the fat isn’t melting off my postpartum body, it’s getting melted into my cornbread, made into creme brulee, chocolate lava cakes and hot chocolate. And I’m trying to embrace it more knowing that fat is neccessary for:
- Improved food flavor and satiety
- Absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
- Digestion speed regulation
- High caloric energy for long-low-intensity activity (breastfeeding perhaps?)
- Construction of cell membranes- creating the protective lining on organs (healing & happy skin!)
- Proper hormone function (keeping up the oxytocin levels!)
- Regulation of inflammatory response
Now I just need to make sure I’m getting the best quality I can.
So, what are some simple ways to make the most of our fats?
Purchase and use high quality fats. Store them properly.
Look for olive oil and nut oils in tin containers that are not exposed to light and stored in cool conditions to maximize benefits of their antioxidants. Use up before expiration date and keep in a cool location to avoid oxidation.
Avoid hydrogenated fats (i.e- crisco and margarine) which when heated, pressurized & combined with a catalyst (usually nickel) are made solid & less able to rancidify at room temp. Unfortunately this can cause an increase in total cholesterol, a decrease in HDL & increase in LDL, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The more saturated fat a product contains, the more stable (essential for hormone & immune cell function… ever notice when you’re feeling moody you crave peanut butter or french fries? Consider if you are treating your body to a nice balance of fats in your diet.)
Cook at the right temperature.
What do rancid fat & cooking fats at too high of a temperature have in common?
They can result in oxidation*
*the off-flavor you may notice in old oil or oil cooked above it’s smoke point for too long that contributes to forming…
FREE RADICALS: (n.) ions or molecules that have an unpaired electron in their outermost shell that is unstable and destructive to surrounding molecules. These free radicals create havoc on the cells causing cancer, atherosclerosis (the build-up of fatty material in the blood vessels), Alzheimer’s disease, emphysema, diabetes mellitus, cataracts, macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis, among other aging-related deterioration.
FOR HIGH TEMP COOKING, FRYING, BAKING, BROILING, ROASTING: beef tallow, ghee, chicken & duck fat, coconut oil, lard, butter
FOR STIR-FRY, LIGHT SAUTEING, or FINISHING: (look for cold extracted or expeller pressed) avocado oil, butter, macademia nut oil, olive oil**, peanut oil, sesame oil
FOR RAW USE ONLY: almond oil, black currant seed oil, flax oil, evening primrose, pumpkin seed oil, hemp oil, nut oils, rice bran oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil
**A 2018 study suggests that extra virgin olive oil may actually produce the least oxidation after being heated.
“…under conditions used in this study, smoke point does not predict oil performance when heated. Oxidative stability and UV coefficients are better predictors when combined with total level of PUFAs. Of all the oils tested, EVOO was shown to be the oil that produced the lowest level of polar compounds and oxidative by-products (in contrast to high-levels of by-products generated by oils such as canola) after being heated closely followed by coconut oil. EVOO’s fatty acid profile and natural antioxidant content allowed the oil to remain stable when heated.”
[Motherhood (n.): a lesson in gratitude]
It has been 7 weeks since I became a mother! Our little cherub has put many things in perspective. I have a feeling this is just the beginning. For now, I am counting my blessings, which are many!
I’m thankful this lanky, little bundle of good natured joy who’s joined our family has gotten to meet ALL his grandparents AND two of his greats!
I am thankful that despite our infant’s demanding feeding schedule, and my husband’s 17 hour shifts twice-a-week to prove his worth (and some might say, insanity) I’ve still found myself fiercely loving them both in spite of the hours they keep!
And most importantly, I’m thankful for our amazingly loving and supportive group of family and friends who have kept melting my heart and stunning me with all their generosity! WE CAN, because of what they DO. Be it meal or vegetable deliveries, grocery runs, endless gifts of new and old baby gear, visits on gentle walks outside (as we try to navigate what supportive and welcoming is supposed to look like for a new mother and baby in the midst of a pandemic), or just a thoughtful phone call, text, email, note, or postcard to “check in”.
As I bellowed at my husband while laboring in the backseat of our Kia Sorrento on the way to the hospital,
“We CAN do this!”
Let us remember to hang tough this winter, not forgetting to count our blessings, keep a sense of humor about us, and share in the joy of the simple things in these dark days.
Coming soon: old blog posts republished and more recipes, foods, and “experiments” (as I like to call my hapoy-and-yes, sometimes…-not-so-happy- mistakes made in the kitchen!) I’ve tried or tasted as a new parent.
While I take my sweet time to bring my new WordPress website up to speed transferring my various blog writing, pictures & wisdom from my previous website…
I’m happy to announce that the 2021 calendar has been drawn, handpainted, printed & is ready for shipment! It is 11×17 inch, hand painted, wire bound and along similar lines as 2020’s with even more Nutritional Therapy wisdom for this upcoming year. DoLittle’s of Claremont, New Hampshire is once again doing the printing. Topics range from Digestive Health to Pollinator plants! I think it’s the perfect gift for the foodie, gardener, or localvore in your life this holiday season.
Interested in purchasing directly from me? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for pricing. Otherwise, be sure to check out the local retailers listed here.
My biggest challenges with meal planning are getting to the grocery store (in the winter season) and TIME (this is a problem for me all year long!) Then comes having it all together enough to create a satisfying meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Along with learning about the value of piles of generously given baby clothes (&diapers&changingtables&cribs&breastpumps&diapers&toddlerclothes&”light”reading on birth&postpartum care&foodsformakingahealthysmartwonderfulbaby) pregnancy has been reminding me the importance of meal planning! And finding inspiration in the “fixings”. I’m excited to share some of my favorites that I FINALLY got online at the Edgewater Farm Kitchen webpage over here. If you are reading from afar, these are some wonderful foods to have on hand, hope they can inspire you. If you live locally, come on down and pick some up.
About a month ago I sent a message out to some of my clients, friends and family asking them what the biggest challenge with meal planning. They mentioned:
- sticking to a plan
- inspiring recipes*
*I’m hoping to get up my favorite books list on here soon!
Interestingly, most of you have said that putting together a meal (and planning ahead for it) can be the biggest roadblock to getting a “nutrient dense whole food meal”. Aside from getting partners or kids to eat it! I am grateful to have access to many forms of protein as part of my husband’s”benefits package”. BUT, as prices of, what I consider, basic proteins like meat and eggs rise, it definitely challenged me to think of how other people might consider getting in a balanced meal on a budget.
I’ve been known to go through my day eating a bowl of “loaded” oatmeal on my drive into work at 5 am while, if I’m lucky, I enjoy the sunrise over the Cornish Covered Bridge and wonder what the day will bring me in the Kitchen in between the radio’s morning news. The day proceeds at breakneck speed, while I eat a few cookies, nibble on some salad and come home ravenous at 4 pm for an actual meal and a nap. This really messes with blood sugar regulation, but that’s a conversation for another time!
This spring, I’ve made it a point to incorporate a smoothie into my daily morning routine. It often includes blueberries, a banana, yogurt, dates, whey protein, chia seeds, flax seeds & a little ice, though I’ve been inclined to add mint & mango when I’m feeling exotic. Strawberries have been a staple in smoothies lately. Other variations I’ve tried when I’m feeling like I’d like to be an adventurous health nut include spirulina & cilantro with barley juice grass powder. [Yes. I can feel the eye rolls of the farmers in my life already.]
Part two of my new meal planning habit forming is getting my lunch together the night before with leftovers from dinner. Which, lately, has been different variations of salad! I’ve been trying to include lots of nuts, seeds, cheese, eggs & meat to get in the baby’s ever-increasing need for protein.
To give you a taste of my go-to-dinner-menu that served me well for many weeks this spring, here’s some inspiration…
Truth is I’ve been making this for me to eat whenever.** I know, it has eggs in it, but I’d love to hear if you all have alternatives that have been satisfying you for breakfast, lunch or dinner. **Sometimes I even make it into a wrap with greens & sauerkraut.
I’ve really been into these lately, I’ve just been tossing together whatever ingredients I have on hand to fill them. Best suggestion was to pre-cook them at 350 for about 10-15 minutes, then fill with mixture of old bread run through the cuisanart with some hamburger (or you could use quinoa), eggs, your favorite spices & herbs (fresh chives from my herb garden–yumm!). I like to top with some cheese to support the dairy farmers.
Tacos/ Taco Salad
Depending on if I get to the grocery store depends on if this turns into a salad. Take any vegetables, your favorite protein, beans, salsa, sour cream, cheese… wahlaa. Done. Maybe I should start foraging for dandelion greens to really make Jay’s day… Been loving this easy recipe for frying your own tortillas. Another my gluten free friend introduced me to is this— and another friend told me that she leaves it in her fridge for up to a week to really make it ready to roll. A project for kids to get involved….???
Yes. I’ve been using my bacon grease for this— though coconut oil is wonderful too!
Quinoa (or Lentil or other Grain) Bowls
This is a new one for me. Trying to actually use my grains properly & soak them ahead of time. AND wanting to use up some of my frozen vegetables— sauteed & mixed in. Officially out of onions, so still hope to use the chives in here too. Maybe this ginger-tahini dressing on top to knock our socks off? Otherwise, there’s always the Eating for the Season’s green dressing….
Wraps/ Quesadillas/ Hamburgers
This is turning into my go-to Friday night meal. I found these wraps (supposedly more protein). I’ve also been enjoying burgers with a side of roasted sweet potatoes that I just slice up the night before, toss with oil, salt & garlic & have ready to pop in a 375 degree oven when I get home. Have a little broccoli or side salad and good to go…
Been experimenting with many versions. I made this easy chickpea flour version the other night that was certainly filling & felt like I was getting in a bit more protein. Favorite toppings? Ricotta (or in a pinch cottage cheese), olives, feta, & a drizzle of honey with basil. I’ve also been adding a little spelt flour to my regular King Arthur flour recipe which I think gives it some unique flavor & makes it a bit crustier.
Flourless Chocolate Lava Cakes
Speaking of flour, or the lack of it in the grocery store, I’ve been putting the plethora of my wedding ramekins to good use, buttering them up, sprinkling in a little cocoa powder & baking them off for an impressive but not intensive dessert. And, no, I don’t use any flour just substitute in all cocoa powder. Also have successfully subbed in maple syrup instead of sugar. I think you could use coconut oil instead of butter if you don’t have it on hand by the pound like I do!
Look forward to hearing what challenges you in regards to food. As always, be sure to send an email to me email@example.com if you are ever interested in learning more about how to create meal plans that fit your needs, or to learn more about how Nutritional Therapy can help you!
Emily’s learning about nutrition… & technology!
For years co-workers have begging for a vibrant email or blog regarding the Edgewater Kitchen going-ons. (Ok, so maybe not begging, but certainly wishing for more of an online presence.) Some are getting fed up (no pun intended!) with the text messaged pictures and long-winded emails that feel like they’re torn from my diary pages.
Finally, I am coming to terms with what website services provide.
In an attempt to discover & practice using “technological avenues” (like websites & blogs), while getting my feet wet in learning more about the power of food over our minds and bodies… without tarnishing Edgewater Farm’s reputation in the process…
I, Emily McNamara, do solemnly swear, that I will attempt to keep up with these short news-letter-esque blogs at least once a month to keep you in the loop about what I’m learning. I would love you all of you to send me your own conversational insights, questions, concerns, controversial tidbits, recipes & whatever else you have on your mind to: firstname.lastname@example.org (a new email linked to my fresh faced naivete as a Nutritional Therapy student.) Whatever you do, keep it respectful and tie it back to food!
I look forward to keeping you posted on what I’m learning. And hearing what you think.
Enjoy the wild ride of my interpretations of how to support good health with food!