The butter dish is empty

We haven’t had butter in our house for over eight months.  We’ve made a conscious effort to do this.

It all started while reading and learning about the Mediterranean Diet.   Traditionally people that live in this region of the world eat lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, more fish, nuts, beans, seeds and olive oil. Eating a Mediterranean-style diet has shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

With the concerns about trans fats I had previously switched from margarine to butter. We weren’t eating that much butter anyway, but now my goal was to get rid of the butter.  The Mediterranean Diet concept is to substitute solid fats with unsaturated versatile olive oil.

I’m here to say…you can do it!

I’ve seen lots of website and recipes that talk about substituting oils for the solid fats and increasing the olive oil.  Using olive oil in stove top cooking works. So does making a salad dressing.  These substitutions were easy.

Others were a little more difficult.

I’ve heard people suggest that you even use olive oil on your toast in the morning.  I’ve had bread dipped in olive oil with herbs and olive oil on whole grain toast and both are good.  But olive oil on cinnamon toast wasn’t that great. In my opinion cinnamon toast is better just plain. 

While on vacation in Florida I went to a special olive oil store where they have samples of olive oil and flavored vinegars (similar to a wine tasting). It was fun to taste the different types and flavors.  I bought several to try including the “butter flavored” olive oil —thinking it might be good on the cinnamon toast.  Nope, I’m sticking with just plain toast—or peanut butter (another monounsaturated fat).

There have been times when it took some extra thinking or a change in “what we’ve always done”.

One of these times I thought of making a special candy as a holiday gift, but I didn’t have butter in the house.  Then I thought why am I making something that isn’t that healthy to give my loved ones?  So I didn’t buy butter.

Another time also involved guests. I usually make a local specialty of shrimp and grits when we have house guests.  The original recipe that came from a restaurant called for sautéing onion and shrimp in two sticks of butter.  I’ve worked to modify this recipe to start sautéing the onions in a small amount of olive oil, adding celery (to get another vegetable in) and then adding chicken broth for the sauce.  Some folks like it better than the original –they ask for the “healthy” version—and others don’t know there was another version.

I’m just not putting butter on the shopping list.

Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS

Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University

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updated on 11-20-2017