By Marika Sboros
Fast food is often just a euphemism for junk food. Ditto for “convenience”, so-called “comfort” food. A new book gives bold new taste, flavour and health to fast food.
It is Dinner Plans, Easy Vintage Meals by Jennifer Calihan and Adele Hite. It shows how easy it really is to make healthy foods fast for dinner daily.
The secret is in the “vintage”, say the authors. Vintage meals are the “original fast food”. Vintage eating is the way your great-grandmothers used to cook. That was “back when people used to feel satisfied between meals and look and feel better”.
These days, everyone is talking about eating “real food”, the authors write. But people forget that not too long ago, this was just called eating “food”. People also forget that real food includes real fats: butter, cream, cheese, and yes, bacon, the authors say.
In essence, vintage eating “puts the fat back in food” – and that includes “scary” saturated fat.
Vested interests have used the phrase “saturated fat” to frighten us away from whole foods, the authors say. This plays right into the hands of “super-dooper processed food manufacturers”.
After all, it takes a lot of “fancy factory footwork to get fat out of foods where it naturally belongs”. Thus, they raise the question: “Why not leave (fat) there since it’s not the problem?”
Click here to read: PHC puts low-fat diets to rest!
Simply put, fat is “a wholesome part of a nourishing meal”, they say. And they should know.
Calihan is founder of Eat the Butter. It’s a US-based non-profit organisation dedicated to “helping mothers (and others) return to full-fat food”. (Eat the Butter is also the book’s publisher.)
Calihan has two degrees – one in human biology, the other an MBA. And “despite the politeness that goes along with growing up in Canada”, she’s “a big fan of breaking the rules”. That’s especially when it comes to outdated low-fat, dietary advice”.
She cooks “vintage” these days for her husband and four children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Adele Hite is the perfect foil as Calihan’s co-author. She is a registered dietitian who calls herself a “recovering vegetarian and a perennial grad student”.
The latter is something of an understatement. Hite has a couple of master’s degrees, one in public health nutrition, and PhD in communication, rhetoric, and digital media.
After all, as she has learned, good nutrition is not really or only all about “the science”? She makes a meal about the unsavoury politics that bedevil nutrition epidemiology globally in her Earthropology blog.
Vintage eating for eternity
Hite often idly wonders how she managed to put dinner on the table (nearly) every night for her husband and three kids. That was “during the eternity it took for them to learn to cook for themselves”.
These days, she has the luxury of time to ponder the “puzzles and paradoxes of food, health, and nutrition that abound in the world”. She lives in Durham, North Carolina with her husband and “lots of books”.
Together, the two have produced a winning recipe that brings healthy, fast and comforting vintage eating to the masses.
One of the many strengths of Dinner Plans is the solid science on which it is based. Another is that its form solidly supports content. The book blends a modern approach, robust nutrition research and a retro look. Soothing watercolour illustrations by Lucile Prache become eye “candy” that contribute to the olde-worlde feel.
The writing style makes the content even more accessible. It is reader-friendly, light, playful, always substantial – and peppered with lashings of common sense.
Click here to read: Teicholz: How low-fat diets can kill you!
Calihan and Hite say that mounting evidence shows that fat-free, low-fat eating really has flopped. The results have been “disastrous” and “scream that it is time to move on”.
They guide readers to move on to vintage eating. It emphasises what’s in our food, not what has been taken out. Keeping the natural fats in foods keeps sugar, artificial flavours and thickeners out, they say.
Therefore, they show why vintage eating breaks the US government’s MyPlate “healthy eating” recommendations. Presumably, the same applies to the Eatwell Guide that Public Health England (PHE) still dishes up to the public as “healthy”. Click here to read why British obesity and public health researcher Dr Zoë Harcombe calls it PHE’s Eatbadly Guide.
The same also applies to official dietary guidelines in all other countries that push high-carb, low-fat foods. And guidelines that insist that sugar is part of “healthy eating”, even for diabetics.
Calihan and Hite give the basic ABC ingredients of vintage eating: adequate protein, bright veggies and careful carbs.
They give top 10 reasons to “eat more vintage fat”. Among these is the science showing that adding saturated fat and subtracting carbs raises “good” cholesterol. It also lowers “bad” triglycerides.
Ditching sugar – and hunger!
Fats are also energy-dense and satiating, they say. So, you feel satisfied and full – and stay that way until the next meal. And fats provide calories “without a blood sugar roller coaster ride”.
In that way, vintage eating effectively allows you finally to “ditch hunger”, control weight and feel absolutely fabulous forever more.
Fat with food also improves vitamin and mineral absorption, including Vitamin D and calcium. And of course, high-fat meals are an important part of ketogenic eating. Neither Calihan nor Hite has any fear of keto. It’s easy and quick to adapt their meal plans for those who are on ketogenic therapies to treat or prevent a wide range of serious health problems.
The authors give the basics of exactly which vintage fats to include and modern fats to avoid – much like the plague. They explain how to stock a vintage pantry and kitchen for optimum vintage eating. And they give a mini lesson on vintage cooking techniques.
They promise dead-easy dinner plans that allow you to “play with your food”. The authors keep all promises.
There are no complicated recipes, long ingredient lists or even any fancy cooking skills required. They have divided each “plate” of recipes into three mix-and-match, “flip” parts. That’s another retro element.
(Many readers will remember flip books from their childhood. Of dolls, animals, monsters with pages cut into sections to flip and change heads, clothes, legs, etc.)
The flip sections allow Dinner Plans to offer 27,000 possible combinations of quick, easy healthy meals for vintage eating.
Calihan and Hite take care not to endorse any one “diet”. They know that there is no one-size-fits-all way of eating. They describe vintage eating as low-carbish, primalish, grain-freeish, gluten-freeish and realfood-ish. It is also WAPFish (that’s short for Weston A Price Foundation-ish).
In effect, they take readers on a journey backwards to go fast forwards to renewed health, vigour and wellbeing.