Staff Profile: The Raised-on-Butter Cook
“I’ve learned how to balance my love of butter with healthier fats.” - Tiffany Vickers Davis: Age 38, Assistant Test Kitchen Director, Birmingham, Ala.
Being a senior member of the Cooking Light Test Kitchen has made Tiffany Vickers Davis an expert on healthy cooking but not immune to the lure of a little extra butter. Tiffany’s family emigrated from Germany when she was young. Despite the move, the kitchen remained strictly northern European. “My mother made lots of cream soups and boiled potatoes with butter.” Like anyone else working in a kitchen, she is surrounded by food, including butter and cream. But she has found lots of tools and tips to keep her diet in check while not missing out on the flavor she so loves. Here, she shares what she’s learned.
The richness fat provides, especially in butter and cream, is part of what makes comfort foods so comfy. Working in the kitchen, the very heart of this magazine, I understand moderation and know my way around the olive oil cruet. I just really love butter. If you’re in the same boat, I’ve got some good news: You don’t have to cut beloved dairy fats out of your life entirely. You just need creative ways to substitute heart-healthy fats for unhealthy sat fats more frequently.
- Think of a meal as a balancing act. Indulge in one rich food, then balance it with healthier choices. If you’re having ribeye (high in sat fat), make leaner sides. Instead of baked potatoes topped with sour cream, boil or roast spuds and toss with tasty olive oil and fresh chopped herbs. Replace creamy salad dressings with a heart-healthy vinaigrette.
- Use butter to finish dishes. Cooking with butter throughout your meal ups your saturated fat intake. For maximum flavor impact, add it toward the end instead. Sauté veggies in olive or canola oil, then use a bit of butter to finish, tossing to melt and coat. Sprinkle buttered toasted breadcrumbs on top of pasta dishes as a last touch. This way, the flavor will be upfront on your palate when you bite in.
- Go half-and-half. Use hearthealthyfats in combination with less-than-healthy fats so you still get the rich buttery flavor you want, but with less sat fat. Mix melted butter and olive oil for garlic bread or sautés. That trick works in some sweets, too. Try our Vanilla Bean Shortbread, which uses a combination of butter and canola oil.
- Experiment with flavor. Pesto, hummus, or romesco sauce (all usually made with healthier fats) can stand in for butter or cream in certain dishes. For example, finish sautéed veggies with pesto; trade hummus for sour cream dips; instead of cream sauces on pasta, try romesco. This way you’re not just trying to trick your tongue with a healthier fat; you’re offering it a whole new flavor experience.
- Make a simple switch with mayo. Mayo varieties made with heart-healthy olive and canola oils are now widely available, helping you increase your unsaturated fat intake without sacrificing any creamy flavor.