I recently calculated my daily fat intake. Since I eat essentially the same foods every day, my calculations are probably pretty accurate.
For breakfast, I typically consume 3 tablespoons raw extra virgin olive oil. That's 42 grams of fat, 360 calories--66% of the daily suggested intake.
Lunch, I consume 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (baked, in tempeh). That's 28 grams of fat, 240 calories.
By dinner, I've exceeded my daily fat intake, simply by consuming olive oil.
Is this healthy?
One prominent study suggests two tablespoons daily is a healthful dose. But I cannot find any studies on excessive olive oil consumption. I can say, though, that as a type-1 diabetic, I'm prone to an increased risk of high blood pressure, as well as heart and cholesterol problems. And yet, I'm healthy. I get blood tests several times a year. I check my own blood pressure monthly. My levels are healthy, normal.
Also, at 5' 11", 150 pounds, I'm slightly underweight.
Keeping this in mind, consider my dinner: I typically consume two tablespoons raw extra virgin olive oil, about 27 grams fat from chicken, and about 1/4 cup coconut milk. After dinner, I eat a little chocolate, about 6 grams of fat worth.
In one day, I consume:
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil: 98 grams fat ; 840 calories.
2 chicken legs: 27 grams fat; 464 calories
1/4 coconut milk: 12 grams fat; 120 calories
Chocolate: 6 grams fat; 80 calories
That's 143 grams of fat--more than double the daily recommended value.
Again, can this be healthy?
I'd say, possibly. I rarely eat dairy fat (I eat raw butter and goat cheese occasionally.) I never, ever eat trans-fats. My animal fat intake is not excessive. (I take fish oil capsules every day, but the capsules do not increase my fat intake.)
Still, 143 grams.
Without fat, cuisine is unimaginable. Fat provides immense flavor and an impossible to match smoothness. Fat tenderizes food. Fat allows for high-heat cooking--the domain of crispiness and robust flavor. To me, low-fat cuisine is lifeless, boring, just plain stupid. Thousands of studies have proven the health benefits of fats--fish oils, extra virgin, olive oil, even saturated fats such as extra virgin coconut oil. People who eat low fat diets in pursuit of health or weight-loss are simply moronic. To me, low-fat dieters seem as boring and lifeless as their boring, lifeless diets.
No doubt, some chefs might say the same thing about me. I typically eschew the classics of gourmet cooking, cream and butter, in my own manic pursuit of "health." (I do use some animal fat, such as bacon, on special occasions, and when absolutely called for.)
Well, I challenge any chef to make my mashed potatoes. They're delicious; they're also healthy.
I think cuisine should provide taste and nourishment and vitality. Any chef can whip up a great-tasting mashed potato, with cream and butter. But how do creamy, buttery mashed potatoes make you feel after you eat?
I want my diners to feel satisfied, but I also want them to walk away from the table feeling light and sprite. I don't want my diners to moan, to lay around, devastated by my food. I want my diners to dance in celebration. I want my diners to kiss without fear of burbing unhealthy burbs. I want my diners to feel like making wild, winey-love. I want my diners to feel sexy, before and after eating.
Towards this end, I use the sexy fat: coconut milk.
Coconut milk (unlike coconut oil) does not dramatically alter the taste of a dish, if used in correct quantities. (My mashed potatoes do not taste at all like coconut.) And yet, coconut adds the silky luxuriousness that's missing from many dairy-free recipes. I use coconut milk in many recipes where cream might be called for, and usually the result is terrific.
Try mashed sweet potatoes. Try chocolate truffles.
Recently, I've been making variations on what I call "Healthy Creamed Spinach." It's basically greens, simmered with coconut milk. Try it. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Coconut Braised Greens
I originally developed this recipe for Whole Foods Market; if you like it, you can rate it here.
1 large bunch kale or collard greens, trimmed and teared into small pieces
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Fresh ground pepper
In a large dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 6-8 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and lemon juice to the pan. Add the greens. Gently toss. Simmer over medium-low heat, covered, until greens are just tender, 3-5 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper.