Shavuot- Butter vs. Margarine

One of my mottos in the kitchen is ‘the less ingredients, the better!’ No matter what it is, if I pick up a product at the grocery store and it has more than 3 or four lines of ingredients, I put it back on the shelf. The same holds true for my shortening of choice. I like butter. You have probably noticed that I use butter in all of my recipes. But what is the difference between butter and margarine? Is butter really better for my health and my families? In an attempt to lower cholesterol numbers, many feel that eating margarine instead of butter is healthier. Let’s see what the experts say.

WHAT IS MARGARINE?

Margarine is cheap. Margarine begins as chemically-extracted, refined vegetable oil, which is extracted at high temperatures, destroying important nutrient components. The oil must then be hardened by bubbling hydrogen through the vegetable oil at high temperatures. The hydrogen saturates some of the carbon-carbon bonds of the oil and the product then becomes hard or solid at room temperature. When the carbon bonds are saturated, the product is called a saturated fat, making it hard at room temperature. The final product also usually contains some trans-fatty acids, which are man-made fatty acids and shown to increase inflammation in the body. Very recent research indicates that trans-fatty acids in margarine raise LDL levels, the bad cholesterol in the body. The final product also contains nickel, cadmium and often other very toxic contaminants which are introduced as hardening agents in the production process. Margarine also contains artificial or natural coloring agents. Doesn’t sound like a very good pick so far….let’s look at butter.

WHAT IS BUTTER?

Butter is a natural food. Butter is made from the cream that rises to the top if milk is allowed to sit for a time. Butter is made by churning cream, causing a chemical reaction allowing the cream to harden. In fact the ingredients in butter are cream or cream and salt. Butter is a good choice of fat in that it contains a number of natural fatty acids that are excellent for the body. Butter is an excellent source of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K which are not found in margarine. Also, butter does not contain trans-fatty acids or toxic metals. Real butter is composed primarily of short and medium chain fatty acids, which are easily used by your body as energy. This means that the fat in butter is actually less likely to be stored as fat in your body. In fact, in his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, Dr. Weston Price identified a factor in butter that is essential for proper growth and development of the bone structure, called ‘activator X’ or ‘factor X’. Although many people are sensitive to cow’s milk dairy products, often butter is well- tolerated because butter is almost a pure fat, and does not contain many of the allergens such as casein or lactose, found in other milk products.

However, butter has had a love-hate relationship with those individuals trying to be more healthy. They have been drilled with the false advertising that butter contains the kind of fat that will increase your risk of heart disease. Who do you think advertised that? Yep, the ‘margarine folks.’ But, butter is a natural, wholesome food that has been eaten by man for thousands of years. Health expert Joseph Mercola says that raw butter from grass-fed cows is rich with essential vitamins and antioxidants in their most natural and absorbable state. In fact, he says that butter is actually a better source of vitamin A than carrots and it contains vitamin E and selenium. These three nutrients help protect your heart from free radical damage, which weakens your arteries. Butter also contains vitamin D, vitamin K, lecithin, butyric acid (an anti-carcinogen) and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a fatty acid which has been found to help fight cancer, decrease abdominal fat, lower insulin resistance and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Margarine, on the other hand, has been advertised as a “healthier” alternative to butter. Margarine is made from vegetable oils found mostly in soy and cottonseed. These vegetable oils are subjected to extreme processing conditions, including high heat and high pressure, and are extracted by using chemical solvents. And the vegetable oils used in most margarines are hydrogenated to make them solid, turning the oil into highly unhealthy trans fatty acids, which increase your risk of heart attacks by lowering HDL or good cholesterol and increasing LDL or bad cholesterol levels. Trans fats are also believed to increase your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
Butter can be your friend. Butter will not make you fat. Butter is something your body will recognize. By feeding your body foods that it can recognize, it has a better chance of using that food for fuel instead of fat. So buy butter!!!! Here is an amazing comfort food recipe that is not shy on the butter. I loved this dish when I was pregnant!
Chicken Pot Pie
Ingredients:
Gluten Free Pantry Pie Crust Mix
1 cup Organic Chicken Broth
1 16 oz. pkg cooked mixed veggies
1 cup cooked organic chicken, cut into cubes
½ cup mixed blend rice cheese
1 potato
2 T GF flour
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp baking Powder
2 T sugar
20 Tbs. butter
2 eggs
2 T cold water
3 tsp cider vinegar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Make Gluten Free Pie Crust according to directions on the box.
You will be making 4- 8” pie crusts. After the dough is made, divide in half and freeze half for later use.
Layer 1- 8” uncooked pie crust into a pie dish.
Prepare filling.
Wash and cut up potato into small cubes. Boil in water for 10 minutes or until softened.
In a sauce pan, add chicken broth and gluten free flour. Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in chicken, cooked potatoes and vegetables.
Place soup mixture into uncooked pie crust. Top with cheese.
Cover with second pie crust. Seal and flute edges. Slit the top in several places.
Set on a baking sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes.
The top should be browned and insides bubbling through slits.
Cool and serve.

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