“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream” – Julia Child
Surprisingly, you and I have something in common.
I was sorry to hear about your diabetes diagnosis, but even more sorry to hear about some of the responses you’ve gotten from the public about your personal health. Now, as the Queen of Traditional Southern Cooking, you embrace all things fried and sweet and your recipes have titles like “Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding”, “The Heavyset Cheese Ball”, “Laurie’s Bacon Biscuits”, and “Ultimate Fantasy Deep Fried Cheesecake.” As a nutritionist, I can’t not point out that these recipes are loaded with refined sugar, processed flour, huge amounts of pasteurized cheeses, processed meats and doughnuts. I would not encourage my clients to eat any of these foods, and doing so may contribute to blood sugar dysregulation, diabetes, and a myriad of other diseases.
However, you are most widely known for your love of butter. You even promote butter flavored lip balm. This is where you and I see eye-to-eye. Like you, I love butter.
You’ve been told that butter causes diabetes. You’ve been told butter makes us fat. Butter clogs your arteries. It becomes cellulite. Fatty. Unhealthy. Dangerous. Butter is the root of all evil.
Some people are willing to throw these concerns out the window because butter tastes that good. Although I enjoy the richness only butter can add to a dish, the taste is not the only reason I cook with butter.
Why I use butter in my kitchen:
- Butter pairs fat along with all the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K2) for optimal absorption. These nutrients are responsible for a wide range of functions, from maintaining good vision to keeping the immune and endocrine systems in balance.
- Butter slows digestion of carbohydrates when eaten as part of a balanced meal so we can go longer without feeling hungry.
- Butter provides good amounts of short and medium-chain fatty acids, which support immune function, boost metabolism, and fight against pathogenic microorganisms in the intestinal tract.
- When butter comes from cows eating green grass, it contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that gives excellent protection against cancer and also helps the body build muscle rather than store fat.
- Butter contains cholesterol which, despite what you may have heard, is necessary to maintain intestinal health, hormone balance, and for brain and nervous system development in young children.
- Butter is a stable fat that is suitable for cooking at high temperatures and is ideal for baking.
Nutrients in butter have been found to aid the following conditions:
- Heart Disease
- Thyroid Imbalance
- Gastro-Intestinal Infections
Packed with healing nutrients and satiating fats, butter may be the healthiest ingredient in many of your dishes. While there are many ingredients in your recipes that should be avoided, butter is not one of them. When part of a whole-foods based diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, animal proteins, nuts, seeds, and prepared grains, butter is the key ingredient to health and happiness. Please continue to cook with butter – I’ve got your back on this one.
My Favorite Sources:
Best – Raw butter from grass-fed animals
Good – Pasteurized butter, preferably grass-fed
A word about ghee:
Many of you may be sensitive to the casein or lactose in dairy products and avoid butter for this reason. Ghee, or clarified butter, is a wonderful source of stable fats and nutrition that is casein and lactose-free. Ghee can be found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, but can be stored in the pantry for maximum spread-ability.
Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Lemon (Inspired by The Art of Simple Food)
- Melt butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. When the foam has begun to subside, add almonds. Cook, stirring fairly often, until the almonds begin to brown.
- Turn off the heat and add lemon juice and salt.
- Cook the beans until tender in salted boiling water. Drain well and toss with the almonds and butter. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
- Substitute chopped pecans or hazelnuts for the almonds.
- Use romano beans or Dragon’s Tongue beans instead of tender green beans.
- Add a clove of finely chopped garlic to the butter just before adding the beans.
Radishes with Herbed Butter and Salt (Inspired by Barefoot in Paris)
Serves 6 to 8
- 2 bunches of radishes, cleaned and end trimmed, but with the tops intact
- ¼ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 ½ tsp. minced scallions
- 1 ½ tsp. minced fresh dill
- 1 ½ tsp. minced fresh parsley
- ½ tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ tsp. sea salt, plus more
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- Combine all ingredients, except radishes, with an electric mixer at low speed until combined. Do not whip.
- Serve with radishes and a sprinkle of sea salt.