Bad fat, good fat, low fat, no fat. Everyday we become more and more aware of the foods we are eating and feeding our families. We are bombarded by new products and diets to keep our families healthy, but most of us don't have the time or resources to keep up with the trends. A grey area for some is the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, or better yet, why your kids should care about getting enough of it. Here are a few family-friendly tweaks that will increase healthy fats and keep in all the flavors your child loves.
Butter makes it better, right? Most people can't fathom a day without their favorite solidified milk fat, but it's easier to swap than you may think. Try cooking with delicious and nutritious plant-based oils like olive oil, grapeseed oil, and various nut oils. Alternatively, Greek yogurt has become a favorite among the health community and can be used in place of cream and butter in almost any dish. To get you and your family on a healthier path, think of butter as a rare treat rather than a daily source of food.
As for baking, coconut oil is an amazing substitute for butter. If the recipe calls for one cup of butter, simply use one cup of coconut oil in its place. You can also look for vegetable-based butters that your family will no doubt embrace and probably never tell the difference. And yes, Greek yogurt also works beautifully as a healthier fat to add into baked goods.
Adding cream to soups and other dishes may be a hearty family favorite but being heavy with the cream can wreak havoc on your family's health. Below are some easy recipe tweaks that won't let you miss out on the cream:
- Puree the soup or puree some of the soup, and stir it back in with the rest of it to keep it chunky and creamy.
- Add pureed potatoes.
- Grind some nuts (especially cashews) into a fine consistency and whisk them into the pot of soup.
- Puree stale bread that has soaked in some of the soup's liquid, and stir it into the rest of the pot.
- Use coconut milk. Using just the right amount will not alter the flavor of your soup unless you are looking for a coconut flavor. In that case, just add more.
Skip the creamy dressing and overly sauced foods. Opt for drizzling your veggies, salad, or primary proteins with a flavored oil. Craving creamy? Blend nuts, herbs, oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar or lemon juice, for a tasty pesto that will make anything sing with flavor.
Bonus Tip: Adding pureed cashews (soaked overnight for a smooth and creamy consistency) or sesame seed paste (tahini) to any dressing combination will give you creaminess without adding any fat from dairy.
Good Eats, Better Eats
It's no secret that fried foods increase the fat content of our favorite foods. That's part of what makes them so tasty. But for daily meals, swap out frying or cooking in oil with baking or steaming your veggies and protein. It's an instant fat reduction in your family's daily intake. Rely on spices and herbs for flavor instead of fats and oils. Getting healthy fats from whole foods like avocados and nuts as opposed to oils is even better. Incorporate them into your soups, salads, sandwiches, and snacks.
Bonus Recipe: Cut russet potatoes into wedges and steam them until they are 80% cooked. Place the lid on the pot and shake. This will fluff up the potatoes and get them ready for the oven. Preheat your oven to 450℉, and place the wedges on a baking sheet. Greasing the baking sheet is optional, but we love olive oil for some added flavor. Top the wedges with some of your favorite spices. We love garlic and onion powder, dried parsley, Aleppo pepper, black pepper, and a pinch of sea salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes. You'll have a delicious side dish and you'll never miss those greasy fries ever again.
Why make the swap? An overwhelming amount of research has showed us that omega-3 fatty acids or DHAs are vital for cardiovascular and cognitive health. Picky eaters—especially children—may find it difficult to meet their DHA needs with daily food. Using supplements for children in this stage may be a healthy option for some families. Look for a supplement that supports long chain omega-3s that are microalgae-based. Microalgae-based DHAs are a sustainable source of omega-3s for both children and adults, and do not pose any risks of PCBs or heavy metal toxicity that fish-oil based supplements may present.