I was watching a good friend of mine prepare dinner for me the other night. I was telling him about the absolutely punishing “Total Body Conditioning” class I took that morning at the gym. Somehow I managed to perch my still aching gluteus maximus at the counter, observing his culinary skills and trying not to comment on them. I am well aware that no one likes a “butt-insky,” and kept my mouth shut even while I watched him precariously dice vegetables on an extremely wobbly cutting board. His reasoning why he had the cutting board cantilevered on a rolled up towel was that it would prevent “slippage”. I nodded obediently, gulping nervously as he nearly lost the tip of his pinky while chopping. I suppressed my motherly need to correct him and explain that the correct way to prevent the board from slipping is to unroll the towel, lay it flat on the counter and then place the board on top of the flattened towel.
As he knows that I am on the, I Love FOOD Diet, he courteously adhered to the low carb tenets of the diet and was making low carb lasagna. Instead of using lasagna noodles, he was using thinly sliced eggplant. Instead of deep-frying the eggplant with carb filled bread crumb, he coated the eggplant using fresh grated parmesan cheese and baked them till they were browned. Instead of using regular ricotta cheese, he was using fat-free ricotta cheese….with tons of more cheese added…..Huh?
As he was preparing the filling for the low carb lasagna, I watched him hand shred mounds of fresh parmesan cheese into the bowl of ricotta cheese.
Amused by this somewhat oxymoronic step, I commented, “I like how you add the fat back into the fat-free cheese.”
“Full Fat Baby!” he proudly boasted
I thought he was just being ironic and laughed sipping on my cocktail.
He then went on to proselytize on how much he dislikes the fat-free/low-fat options and only goes for the full fat choices. “If you are going to eat, eat it. Don’t be a pu**y about it” he declared.
I nodded in agreement and mentioned that I must have misread the label on the tub of ricotta cheese that I saw him use.
He then whirled around his kitchen, opened the refrigerator door, grabbed the tub in question and ceremoniously presented the label to me. “See!” he said triumphantly. “FULL FAT” while pointing to the label.
I then tried to say as gently as possible “But sweetie, its says “Fat-Free Cheese”
To which the chef said “no it doesn’t, see it says it right there, FULL FAT, while pointing at the FAT-FREE label. “Oh” realizing his error, “You’re right”.
In an effort to capitalize on the publics perceived notion that “low-fat” and “fat-free” are healthier choices, big companies have developed all types of foods that they can slap a low-fat or fat-free label on.
However while these products may very well be fat-free, one needs to question what exactly has been added in its replacement. The fact of the matter is that many companies add bulking agents, fillers, salt, sugar, artificial flavor enhancers and all sorts of chemicals and agents to make the “fat-free” versions taste like it has… well.. fat.
There is not enough long-term research data about the benefits of low-fat versus the full fat options however given the choice of a natural full-fat product or a fat-free option with tons of additives I would lean toward the former.
My advice would be to avoid the fat-free versions of anything and instead just eat less of the full-fat FRESH versions. Not only will you enjoy your food more but you will most likely be able to satisfy your appetite with less of it.
Applying Buddhas teaching of the Middle Path, “So these who follow the middle path which avoid the extreme of indulging one’s desires and opposite extreme of torturing ones mind and body unreasonably, will find happiness, peace of mind and Enlightenment. This is the fourth Noble Truth leading to the path to end suffering”
I don’t know if applying this wisdom to full fat cheese will help us end our suffering, however it can’t hurt.
Chow for now!