Fat in Your Face (and Chocolate Avocado Pudding)

19 Feb

I’m keeping it short and sweet (by my definition) today. Though I’ve been swimming in what feels like thousands of articles and posts and blogs and books about nutrition, I feel a bit blank sometimes when it comes down to conveying what I think is most immediately important and easily digestible to YOU, as potentially casual explorers in a kind of new (but old) world. Because I haven’t been in this writing about food game all that long, I feel as if I need to get the most important stuff said first, so then I can build on it and readers can just reference it later to back up the lighter stuff that will follow. Unfortunately, figuring out how to get all that out there in a manner that’s brief enough to hold your attention while still being incredibly informative is kind of tricky. Of course, part of the problem is that I have so much of this stuff swimming around in my brain soup that I get a little wide-eyed, thinking “Where do I begin?!?” I also just picked up two new books – Deep Nutrition by Catherine and Luke Shanahan, and Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas – and they both look incredible. So far, I’ve only started the first one but I’ve already had whoa! moments on every page (for example: Docs at the Keck School of Medicine in L.A. discovered that children whose mothers smoked while pregnant were 1.5 times more likely to develop asthma than those born to non-smoking mothers – no surprise there. However, if Grandma smoked, the child was 1.8 times more likely to develop asthma – even if Mom never smoked! If both Mom and Grandma smoked, the odds increase 2.6 times. Ugh. This has a whole lot to do with how DNA changes in reaction to our behaviors). Well, creeping ever closer to physical enlightenment…

So, I’m gonna let all that settle down a bit. Here, instead, are a few basic points – from the amazing and thought-provoking website of Tom Naughton, creator of the movie “Fat Head”- to think about as well as perhaps explore a bit further on your own, should you feel so inspired.

  • There’s never been a single study that proves saturated fat causes heart disease.
  • As heart-disease rates were skyrocketing in the mid-1900s, consumption of animal fat was going down, not up. Consumption of vegetable oils, however, was going up dramatically.
  • Half of all heart-attack victims have normal or low cholesterol. Autopsies performed on heart-attack victims routinely reveal plaque-filled arteries in people whose cholesterol was low (as low as 115 in one case).
  • Asian Indians – half of whom are vegetarians – have one of the highest rates of heart disease in the entire world. Yup, that fatty meat will kill you, all right.
  • When Morgan Spurlock tells you that a McDonald’s salad supplies almost a day’s allowance of fat, he’s basing that statement on the FDA’s low-fat/high-carbohydrate dietary guidelines, which in turn are based on … absolutely nothing. There’s no science behind those guidelines; they were simply made up by a congressional committee.
  • Kids who were diagnosed as suffering from ADD have been successfully treated by re-introducing natural saturated fats into their diets. Your brain is made largely of fat.
  • Many epileptics have reduced or eliminated seizures by adopting a diet low in sugar and starch and high in saturated animal fats.
  • Despite everything you’ve heard about saturated fat being linked to cancer, that link is statistically weak. However, there is a strong link between sugar and cancer. In Europe, doctors tell patients, “Sugar feeds cancer.”
  • Being fat is not, in and of itself, bad for your health. The behaviors that can make you fat – eating excess sugar and starch, not getting any exercise – can also ruin your health, and that’s why being fat is associated with bad health. But it’s entirely possible to be fat and healthy. It’s also possible to be thin while developing Type II diabetes and heart disease.
  • Saturated fat and cholesterol help produce testosterone. When men limit their saturated fat, their testosterone level drops. So, regardless of what a famous vegan chef believes, saturated fat does not impair sexual performance.

Pretty interesting, right? So, I know there are a lot of you out there who think to yourselves lately, “okay, all of this stuff that’s now telling me it’s okay to eat saturated fat is great, but I should probably err on the safe side and maybe just add a little more in, and still buy my low-fat milk and yogurt, and bake with vegetable oil. Also, I’m still going to only eat a couple of eggs a week, or at least just eat the whites, mostly, because my dad had a couple of heart attacks. And I do eat a ‘healthy’ cereal in the morning with soy milk, so I should probably keep doing that…” You’ve probably figured out I don’t agree, but onward, ho! Do remember that the source of your fats is of particular importance, though.

Hopefully the above points will keep you thinking about erring on what the CDC and USDA and FDA are telling you is the safe side. And also, hopefully this recipe for a dessert that is as supremely tasty as it is healthy will motivate you to explore a diet that’s based more on healthy fat and protein and less on processed grains and cheap oils. I am never, ever for deprivation. You have nothing (that you truly need) to lose and only years and mobility and health to gain.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

After finding it on The Leftover Queen’s blog, I’ve made this pudding at least once a week for the past few months, especially since it takes about five minutes and avocados seem to be on sale a lot lately. It’s creamy, vanilla-y, smooth, vegan, and should completely satisfy your post-dinner cravings for a little something sweet. Plus, it’s loaded with fiber, plant-based saturated fat, and vitamins C, K, and Folate (which makes it a far healthier way to get your pre-natal vitamins than the Folic Acid in vitamin supplements). In spite of it being avocado-based, you could fool anyone into thinking that this is a rich and unhealthy dessert that they’re probably better off not indulging in. I chose not to recommend raw cacao for this recipe because it’s said to contain a lot of phytates, which are nutrient-absorption inhibitors. Dutch-process cacao could work well, preferably organic and fair-trade (did you know the biggest slave industry in the modern world is in the chocolate industry?). Also, I mean straight-up cacao or cocoa, not anything containing sugar or dairy or any other kind of filler. Here’s a great post about cocoa, and here’s a link to Penzey’s Spices, a site with high-fat cocoa recommended by a cookbook I’ve been digging through, Paleo Comfort Foods

Throw these ingredients in a food processor and blend -holy cow, that's creamy

3 ripe avocados

1/2 c. coconut milk beverage (or raw milk, or your choice of milk alternatives)

1/3 c. maple syrup

1/3 c. dark cacao/cocoa

1/2 tsp. cayenne and/or cinnamon (optional, but I happen to love them in here)

1 tsp. vanilla (also optional, and the maple syrup also helps makes it taste vanilla-y already)

I’ve found that this pudding seems to taste even more rich a day after making it, but it keeps pretty well in the fridge for at least a couple of days. Next I want to try making it with canned coconut milk, replacing at least half of the other “dairy” in the recipe. Seems like it would be even more fantastic…

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13 Responses to “Fat in Your Face (and Chocolate Avocado Pudding)”

  1. Christina @ Salt Pepper Brilliant February 19, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Delicious I make chocolate avocado shakes. They are delicious!

    • ForkYes! February 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

      That’s next on my list! I want to do something with mint…

  2. wartica February 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this with us; I know what I’m going to have for dessert next weekend:) Great recipe and I look forward to sharing more with you:))

    • ForkYes! February 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      Thanks! You MUST try it, seriously. It’s so easy it’s ridiculous.

  3. MattK February 20, 2012 at 5:20 am #

    Nice recipe! I will give it a shot.
    I gave up on following all of the details of the nutrition debates after I read Michael Pollan’s article that was summed up as: “Eat Food, not too much, mostly plants.”

    Instead of looking at the individual nutrients I’m eating foods that are mainly made of vegetables and grains, that are not very processed, and supplemented with a bit of seafood now and then. Just controlling portion sizes and scaling them according to what my daily activity is has also helped.

    I’ll follow your info, but I have some doubts in your personal experimentation. You seem to have excellent genes and to always be in great shape. This might mean you are making great health choices, or it might mean that you have a naturally healthy baseline and metabolism. Regardless, I’m interested to hear more from you.

    • ForkYes! February 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

      Ever the debater, you are, haha. Thanks for the compliment, Matt. I got lucky in a few ways, for sure, and a big one was that my mom got me into every sport available as I was growing up. I credit a lot to that. I also got lucky in that I came along eleven years after my brother, and my parents weren’t as broke when they had me, so I received better food in utero. I wasn’t born with allergies and gut issues like he was (nor the crowded palate). I did, however, have other remnants of inherited sins, which would be a great subject for another blog or three. All but one of my grandparents smoked – though neither of my parents did – which is why I found the tidbit about smoking so interesting, and I’ve had exercise-induced asthma since my teens. But the main reason I wound up going gluten-free (after my brother had incredible success ridding himself of his allergies with that) was because I had bad headaches every single day since early high school, and chronic bronchitis, to boot. I believe these problems were greatly diminished by going gluten-free almost three years ago, along with other ones I won’t get into in the comment section here.
      Though I’d love to pretend I am a genetic masterpiece (especially in this public forum), it’s not exactly true. Even more importantly, though, the older I become the more motivated I am to prevent myself from falling into the same disrepair as my parents’ generation, who are suffering from the same kind of physical degeneration their parents did at half their age. Whatever genetic gifts I might have received I feel obligated to protect, for not only my own happiness but also for any potential it has for benefiting the next generation.

  4. Jenn Campus February 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Thanks for the shout out! I am glad you liked the recipe! :)

    • ForkYes! February 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

      More like LOVED it… and had it again for dessert last night. Thank you!

  5. Nutrition by Nature March 2, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    So glad I’ve stumbled upon your blog and a big hell’s YES to fat in your face!! Fat is my pet nutritional topic (can’t get off the topic either!), looks like people are seriously starting to take note though which is awesome!
    And I loooove avocado pudding – I make a super simple version by just blending up a whole avocado with cocoa/cacao powder, ice, water, and fresh mint. Maybe a little stevia if I’m feeling sweet. Yum!

    • ForkYes! March 2, 2012 at 3:36 am #

      YES, awesome! How did you find me? Glad you’re out there spreading the fat word, too. I have to try that version on the next warm day here. It sounds a lot like my food ideal -avocado, chocolate, and mint. Looking forward to reading your stuff!

  6. Thelma March 15, 2012 at 2:24 am #

    I desperately need any scientific references you can give me connecting very low cholesterol (TC 103) to stroke and cerebral hemorrhage. My brother’s doc says there is absolutely no scientific evidence of this. He supposedly researched it thoroughly. He still has my brother on 1/2 dose statins, despite the very low TC. Bro is on a strict vegan diet. I am very worried. You came through my line at Kroger’s. If you can, please touch base with me again.

    • ForkYes! March 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm #

      I don’t blame you at all for being worried. Try looking here:

      http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/cholesterol-and-stroke

      – Stroke mortality is lowest at cholesterol levels between 180 and 200. Mortality increases substantially below 180 and above 240. Mortality is highest below 160 and above 300.
      – Animal fat and fatty fish are associated with a lower risk of stroke. Polyunsaturated fat and carbohydrates are associated with a higher risk of stroke.

      And here:

      http://www.westonaprice.org/cardiovascular-disease/dangers-of-statin-drugs

      Both of these articles have a long list of references. His doctor either hasn’t researched it thoroughly or he knows and would rather take the easy route – i.e. do what the current standard is and prescribe statins, and when something goes wrong shrug and say you did everything you could.

      Here is another terrific breakdown of the problems with a vegan diet. Your brother should read it asap, too. It mainly disputes all the claims made in the movie Forks Over Knives, which says that a diet with animal products increases mortality, and it does so using the same studies that Forks Over Knives used to substantiate their argument.

      http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/09/22/forks-over-knives-is-the-science-legit-a-review-and-critique/

      I’m having a difficult time pulling this last one up right now and I’m not sure if it’s my slow computer or their site. Hopefully it will get fixed asap. It has received a lot of attention so there’s no reason it should be down unless it was hacked by a vegan mercenary…

      Thelma, best of luck arming yourself against the beliefs that be. Feel free to email me, and I’ll keep looking for more articles for you.

      -Lydia

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