The ABCs of Good Fats


I wanted to follow up this post with some practical ideas on ways to bring healthy fats into your day.

Great foods to increase the healthy fats in your diet

Each of these foods are nutrient-dense and are loaded with beneficial vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.  I’ve made sure that I’m sharing recipes that are quick and easy too…I know it’s one of the requirements for a mom-friendly meal idea!

A is for Avocado

Avocados are loaded with beneficial monounsaturated fats as well as Vitamin E and are a super addition to your diet, especially in the wintertime.  Here are some of my favorite ways to eat avocados.

Avocado Toast:  My husband and I have this every morning.  Slice open an avocado.  Scoop out the inside.  Mash with a fork.  Spread on some whole wheat toast.  Sprinkle garlic salt.  Sink your teeth in!  Honestly, this is a crazy simple, but unbelievably delicious spread.  When they are in season a slice of tomato on top is fantastic too.

Avocado, Black Bean and Corn Dip:  If I’m in a snacky mood for a meal I’ll whip this up.  Open up avocado, scoop out insides, and mash.  In a bowl combine black beans and corn  (I use beans and corn from a can).  Mix the avocado in as a dressing.  I also sprinkle garlic salt in this as well…but it’s equally good without.  Then scoop it up with corn tortilla chips or toasted pita wedges.

B is for (nut and seed) Butters

Most of us are well versed in using peanut butter, but almond and cashew butters are wonderful as well and add additional variation to your diet when replacing peanut butter.  A stellar seed butter is tahini, which is ground sesame seeds.  Sesame seeds are jam-packed with calcium and are a great way to increase your calcium intake without relying solely on dairy products.

Tahini dressing  I mix this into brown rice, over steamed veggies, as a dressing for thinly sliced kale, or as a dip for cut veggies.  A container of this dressing made once a week finds its way into many meals.  In a blender or food processor mix the following together: 1/2 cup tahini, 1/3 cup water, 1 minced garlic clove, 3 T lemon juice, 1/4 t salt, 1/4 cup minced scallions.  *from The Healthy Hedonist – Myra Kornfield

C is for Coconuts

Coconut oil has many health benefits and has in the past been inaccurately vilified because it is high in saturated fats.  The harm is not in whether a fat is saturated or not, but in the length of its chains.  Coconut oil has medium length saturated fats which are terrific for us.  They are easily broken down in our body and used primarily for energy, not fat storage (great news for those wanting to lose weight!).

I use coconut oil any time I am cooking on high heat because it is so stable.  So when I am frying, say, vegetable tempura or chicken cutlets, I do it in coconut oil (the sweet taste is delicious in these foods as well).  I also use coconut oil in muffins and cookies.

Coconut milk is another terrific way to get this healthy food in.  My favorite tip with coconut milk is to cook your rice in it!  The resulting dish is delicious; creamy and sweet.  Here’s a simple and quick risotto recipe:

Coconut, Mushroom and Spinach Risotto:  Put a teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan.  On medium heat sauté a half onion, chopped.  Add about a cup of chopped mushrooms; continue sautéing until mushrooms start to wilt.  Add a cup of risotto and stir until the rice gets translucent.  Mix 1 cup water and 1 cut coconut milk together.  Add this liquid to the rice in 1/2 cup increments while stirring.  When you have added the last 1/2 cup of liquid, add about 2 cups baby spinach to the rice.  Stir until all liquid is absorbed.  (If you want you can also add uncooked shrimp when you add the spinach).  Fantastic and filling one pot rice meal.

Tips for cooking with healthy oils

Finally, here are some quick guidelines to help you choose the right oils for different kinds of cooking temperatures.

For sautéing and baking at high temps, try butter, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil because they do not break down when used at high temperatures.

When sautéing and stovetop cooking at moderate temperatures, try organic extra virgin olive oil.

Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings on top of salads, veggies or grains.

Are any of these foods new to you?  Or, if you eat them already, do you have healthy meal tips using them?