Tag Archives: FreshlyPrepared

Freshly prepared is what happens in kitchens, commissaries, restaurants, and cafeterias when we cook from scratch. The results can and do vary because the food is cooked by humans. Modern food processing technology enables the mass production of products that taste exactly the same.

Local Seasonal Tomatoes – salt to taste

Good cooks salt to taste. It’s a tactile sensory skill that develops over time. Whether or not it’s  “healthy” depends on analysts like me who know how to count and measure. But more on that later.

That picture of those beautiful tomatoes was taken last year mid-September at a farm on the west bank of the Hudson River. I had spent the whole month of August searching for perfection, but it wasn’t until September that I found what I was looking for – a perfect tomato. We were invited to take a few home so I carefully hand picked a couple of beauties off the vine as we were leaving.

The taste, complexity of flavors, and texture met every expectation that the gorgeous photo promised. Perfect tomatoes do not require a recipe. All you need to do is slice and serve dressing with your best extra virgin olive oil and some salt.

Nothing could be easier or simpler or more delicious. When it comes to tomatoes I always salt to taste. Just enough to enhance the complex flavors of a perfect vine ripened tomato but never so much that those delicate flavors are overwhelmed.


Analysis requires changing hats. Trust me when I say it requires a completely different mindset. Here’s what I had to do to make an honest estimate of how much salt to use for the nutrition label.

First I weighed out 10 grams of salt of the flake salt I use. Then I counted the number of two-finger pinches in those 10 grams. And I did the count twice. And if I were working as an analyst for a restaurant menu, I would have done it a lot more than just twice.

Then I cut up a tomato, seasoned to taste, and kept track of how many two-finger pinches I used. The results are reflected in the nutrition label posted above.

My plate of sliced tomatoes fails the Kiss of Death test. My local vine ripened seasonal tomatoes seasoned to taste can’t be both “healthy” and palatable at the same time. It’s one or the other — “healthy” or palatable.

Our Dietary Guidelines and Nutrition Facts Label take what is called a binary approach. Only low sodium qualifies as “healthy”. It’s a valid evidenced based approach supported by the concept of Chronic Disease Risk Reduction Intake (CDRR). The CDRR for sodium is a constant 2.3 grams per day for adults of any age, gender, or level of physical activity. Low sodium = reduced risk = healthy.

The inference is, however, that by extension moderate sodium and high sodium are also not “healthy”. It’s a stern and uncompromising message and enforcement would require setting up a food police.

My concern is that despite good intentions and an evidence-based approach, the nutrition narrative as written is just unhelpful. Simply put, the message will likely fail to improve anyone’s health while potentially having some unintended consequences. The intention was to encourage people to make healthier choices. But in reality, it runs the risk of alienating them. That serves no one’s interest.

Ratatouille – “Healthy” doesn’t always mean the Kiss of Death

Restaurants back at the turn of this century used to joke that labeling a menu item “healthy” was the Kiss of Death because customers refused to order items that were perceived to be bland and tasteless. Sometimes “healthy” is Kiss of Death and sometimes it’s not. But I’ll say more on that later.

Ratatouille holds a special place in my heart. The first time I tasted the dish was in the south of France. I found myself getting a cooking lesson from the chef of a local restaurant. The vegetables got chopped up and thrown helter skelter into a pot with copious additions of olive oil and salt after each handful.

I make a ratatouille every August to celebrate the event. And just like that French chef, I don’t follow a recipe. I think back on that beautiful warm summer day in Aix-en-Provence, a small university city in the Côte d’Azur region of southern France. I always use an excellent olive oil and locally grown seasonal vegetables from the local farmer’s market depending where I’ve lived.

I’ve recreated the dish in Berkeley California, Montréal Québec, the south shore of Long Island, and now in New York’s Hudson Valley. Each time I put the ingredients together I get variations in taste but I always make the dish in August with locally grown seasonal vegetables. I add salt and olive oil to taste and recreate the tastes and textures in my kitchen of how that first delicious bite smelled, looked and tasted.

Variations on this simple vegetable stew appear in Mediterranean countries from Spain to Greece, but I’ve always imagined the primary inspiration came from a parsimonious farmhouse lady somewhere in the south of France. Faced with nature’s seasonal bounty arriving all at once, ratatouille was her answer to the eternal question of what to do with too many vegetables.

The recipes is super NOVA friendly. Ingredient list in descending order by weight: eggplant, zucchini, sweet red peppers, tomatoes, onion, olive oil, garlic, basil, salt. NOVA friendly – freshly prepared from mostly minimally processed ingredients (98% by weight) and 2 processed culinary ingredients (olive oil, salt).

As per the correct reference amount, salt and fat thresholds for my ratatouille are compliant. Salting to taste works great for cooking. But analysis requires a weight measure for the salt and “healthy” is an analytic term.


Surprise! Surprise! Regulatory compliance does not always indicate the Kiss of Death!

Ratatouille is probably best know to most Americans as a popular Disney animated film about a Parisian rat. The dish was never adopted into mainstream American food culture so the food industry does not offer canned or frozen versions to compare with my freshly prepared masterpiece. The dish just never caught on like Italian pizza or Mexican burritos have. 

I only make ratatouille is August or September with peak season local tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and basil because the only way I can recreate the intense flavors I remember is to source freshly harvested seasonal local vegetables. Those vegetables put so much flavor on the plate, there’s no need for too much salt. I can just salt to taste. Delicious. Healthy. And “Healthy”.


Summer Fruit Plate – the taste of seasonal deliciousness.

Imagine you’re sitting in a popular Manhattan restaurant. The meal you’ve just finished was worth every calorie and every dollar. Now it’s time for dessert – the best part of the meal. Every wondered why restaurants rarely offer fruit plates? I think I know the answer, but more on that later.

That spectacular fruit plate pictured above passes the Kiss test with flying colors. Edible proof that compliance and correctness don’t have to always mean the Kiss of Death.

For a restaurant to be willing to make a fruit plate, two things are required. Personalized attention and a knowledgeable chef de cuisine. At this particular restaurant, we were privileged to have both in the same person. Seasonal perfectly ripened fruit is a challenge under the best of condition and most restaurants, even good restaurants, aren’t staffed to handle the challenges.

The ingredient list for the plate in descending order by weight could not be more straightforward: nectarine, peach, blackberries, raspberries. And if you check the food composition stats for fruit, most of the weight is water weight. Not just any old tap water weight but naturally rich vitamin / mineral infused water including potassium plus assorted bioactives / phytonutrients depending on the color of the fruit.

A fruit plate for me is the perfect choice after any meal, but especially after a heavy meal. My gut appreciates that refreshing wonderful slightly acidic water. Cool, wet, refreshing, and sweetened just enough with natural intrinsic sugars.


So why don’t more restaurants offer fruit plates?

From the restaurant perspective, it’s actually cheaper and easier to offer a traditional dessert. Fresh fruit is perishable. Stone fruits and berries have a finite shelf life and bruise easily. Apples need to be under constant refrigeration and humidity once they are picked. Melons will keep okay for a while until you cut them open … To sum it up, most fruits are just not good keepers.

Again from the restaurant perspective, it’s easily to stay in business providing foods the customer wants to eat and for many, dessert is the “best part of the meal”. The restaurant we ate at had many options. Here’s the three I can remember:

• Homemade ice cream – a couple of scoops made with heavy cream from grass-fed cows.

• Panna cotta – an Italian creation made from cream, sugar, buttermilk and molded with gelatin for spectacular presentation.

• Valhrona chocolate cake – one of the world’s finest chocolates mixed with almond meal, wheat flour, sugars, butter, and eggs.

Calorie rich combinations of fat and sugar are significantly more popular that a simple fruit plate. Even the restaurant owner admitted he’d rather have ice cream than fruit.

So why don’t restaurant offer seasonal fruit plates? Because the numbers just don’t add up. The product is temperamental with limited shelf stability, requires staff time and expertise, and the customer has no interest.

A fresh seasonal fruit plate is my choice after a heavy meal but for most restaurant customers it’s just one more example of “healthy” as the Kiss of Death.

Blueberry Yogurt – my kind of healthy

Whole milk yogurt and blueberries will not pass the Kiss of Death Test but from my perspective the combination may be a healthier choice. But before we get to that …

Blueberries are in season in the Northeast beginning mid July until the ending late summer. The farm stand I buy from brings them in starting from Pennsylvania / New Jersey. Then continues from the Hudson Valley and sometimes even from New England. It’s long season and blueberry lovers like me take full advantage.

Unlike local strawberries which are sweet, blueberries are on the tart side so I compliment them with a scoop of drained whole milk yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup. Makes a delicious little after dinner dessert on a hot humid summer evening.

The blueberries of course are minimally processed. Maple syrup is a processed culinary ingredient. And my unflavored whole milk yogurt is traditionally processed with all the fermentation benefits of live and active bacterial cultures. I do the draining myself and use the whey in cooking or drink it to avoid waste.

Why whole milk instead of nonfat milk? Because whole milk yogurt just tastes so good! And deliciousness greatly enhances my enjoyment.

As for portion sizing, that combination of blueberries and yogurt pictured above would fill about 1 cup. Please note however I use more blueberries and less yogurt than those little pots of commodity branded yogurt that line supermarket shelves these days.


Food is more than the sum of the nutrient parts. That phrase has always resonated with me but the resonance is more intuitive than evidence based. I’ve always had a hard time relating to the accepted science based guidance that whole fruit and whole wheat are health promoting while whole milk is not.

Things may change however. Have you ever heard the phrase the food matrix?

During the decade 1990s when I studied nutrition and the subsequent 20 years I worked in rehab and bariatric wellness, I never heard anyone use the phrase. The recipe analysis tool I work with lists 172 nutritional components but food matrix is not one of those components. Food Data Central, the USDA database lists 259 unique nutrient names but makes no reference to the matrix. The only USDA reference I could find was in the National Agricultural Library. Here’s how that document defined the food matrix:  The nutrient and non-nutrient components of foods and their molecular relationships, i.e. chemical bonds, to each other.

Perhaps the best introduction to this novel concept comes from a theoretical discussion between a Holistic and a Reductionist posted earlier this year on the blog written by Rob Shewfelt, Professor Emeritus at University of Georgia.

The food matrix is a novel concept that could explain differences we see in whole and ultra-processed foods. Holistic viewpoints clash with reductionistic ones. Is one superior to the other? Or does the answer lie somewhere in between? Both holism and reductionism tend to oversimplify each other’s arguments. Each perspective has its strengths and limitations.

Sitting here looking out the window and savoring my local blueberries, maple syrup, and plain whole milk drained yogurt, my gut says the combination works for me.

✔️So do I trust my gut or do I go with the guidelines?
✔️Do I defy the food police or do I stop at that metaphoric red light?

Dealing with unknowns is never easy. But I do know nutrition is wicked hard. And I know the role of saturated fat in a healthy pattern remains controversial. And I know researchers are studying if saturated fats within a matrix like my yogurt behave differently than saturated fats that have been extracted from the matrix like butter.

So for now I am going to trust my gut, wait for more clarify, and enjoy my yogurt.

Seafood Linguine – invasive correctness

A philosophy of dietary correctness pervades our food environment. But before we get to that…

My kitchen smelled like the sea as I unwrapped the packages and start my preparation. Ingredients in descending order by weight are: hard durum wheat semolina pasta, shrimp, clams, scallops, wine, olive oil, fennel, garlic. All credible ingredients. If I just substituted whole wheat pasta for the hard durum wheat semolina pasta, the recipe would pass the test.

The reason I’m unwilling to make the switch is based on the taste and texture of the pasta. I’ve experimented with whole wheat pasta both domestic and imported brands but the products don’t cook the same way and the finished dish doesn’t taste the same.

This correctness approach requires a binary decision. The argument for ignoring taste, texture, and the Italian tradition in a binary system is because the food component will not pass. And since both sodium and saturated fat are below respective compliant thresholds with the right serving size, it’s a business no-brainer.

What would I advise a client on a labeling strategy? To the independent restaurant managed by a chef owner I would tell them not to bother with nutrition. For a retail provider I would recommend considering a substitution because it’s too complex trying to explain the winner take all approach if the only two options are healthy or not healthy. That’s apparently what many of the global manufacturers of breakfast cereals have done. They’ve reformulate many product substituting whole wheat for refined wheat flour to increase the fiber grams on the label.

But I’m thinking to myself – what a choice!


A philosophy of dietary correctness pervades our food environment. My seafood linguine isn’t “healthy” because I use durum wheat semolina pasta imported from Italy instead of whole wheat pasta. Despite all other benefits on the plate – variety of seafood, Omega-3 fatty acids, an artful presentation, the taste of deliciousness – the plate fails.

Sitting here in my kitchen and gazing out the window I’m remembering the advantages of one on one counseling sessions. If I were talking to a client right now about the difference between traditional imported hard durum wheat pasta and whole wheat pasta, I could acknowledge the taste difference between the two and we could discuss alternative sources of fiber.

I could describe to my client how the kitchen smells like the sea as I unwrapped the packages and start my preparation. I could encourage my client to be an adventurous cook and share my expertise on buying Little Neck clams and local scallops and why I prefer shrimp harvested in the Gulf or Carolinas compared to commodity farmed shrimp.

I could talk about Italian culture and tradition and the taste and texture differences between an Italian brand of pasta that has been extruded using bronze-cut dyes as opposed to commodity pasta which is manufactured with wheat flour and the more common Teflon dyes. And if the client like the taste of beans or peas or lentils – all excellent sources of intact fiber- we could explore recipes from traditional Italian cooking which include these plant based beauties.

 A labeling approach that reduces benefits and risks down to a single icon like the proposed FDA update or The Kiss Test forces a binary choice. All components need to pass the test and the product or recipe either passes or fails. The plate is either one or the other. Good or Bad. Winner or Loser. Pass or Fail.

It’s not the smartest approach for encouraging people to eat healthier in my humble opinion.

Spring Salad – a picture is worth 1000 labels

Take a look at the picture above and ask yourself this question.

Which is better evidence of healthfulness – the picture of the salad or the Nutrition Facts Label? But before we get to that …

During the summer I make lots of salads. And all my salads tend to follow the same basic pattern – a variety of crunchy raw greens, some protein, and some canned or home cooked beans.  This is actually the salad I prepared when a fellow dietitian came to lunch a couple weeks ago. Delicious and refreshing and just right for a casual get together on one of those lovely almost warn spring Hudson Valley days.

This salad was made with mostly minimally processed fresh vegetables – escarole, radicchio, arugula, avocado, tomato – and a couple of freshly boiled eggs. I used traditionally processed canned chickpeas and canned tuna whereas the olive oil, vinegar, and salt are culinary processed. Only the small amount of Dijon mustard I used to emulsify the salad dressing and a couple of marinated baby artichokes qualify as ultra-processed. A super NOVA friendly salad!

I served the salad as the main dish and I figure we each ate about 2 to 3 Cups, the amount reflected in the label.

All my salads failed the original thresholds established by the FDA for fat, saturated fat, and sodium back in 1994. This time around, however, the saturated fat assessment depends on the protein food source.

Salads like the one pictured above made with seafood and eggs catch a break when it comes to counting saturated fat grams so my salad benefits from the addition of both canned tuna and hard boiled eggs.

The sodium thresholds have also been relaxed. So I’m happy to report that my salad is co,pliant and will pass the nutrient component as long as the correct reference amount is used for labeling purposes.


The last time I ran numbers on my own recipes was about 15 years ago. I never finished the project because I got so angry. None of my recipes met the low fat / saturated fat, or low sodium thresholds required for compliance. So I resigned myself early on to being a dietitian who loved vegetables and whole grains and fresh fruits but choose not to eat “healthy”.

This time around I’m finding more recipes pass the Kiss of Death Test.

But the Nutrition Facts Label has left its mark. Many ordinary Americans think more about nutrients than they do about food. It’s taken me almost 30 years to wrap my head the significance of what my study of nutrition really means but I think I may have finally figured a few things out.

Over the last 4 decades, food has evolved from something familiar and tangible that we make at home in our kitchens into a product that is manufactured, packaged, labeled, and sold. As the label has become increasingly important in determining “healthfulness”, so has our collective  reliance on experts for interpretation.

I am concerned that many of my fellow Americans put more trust in a label than they do in their own ability to make a decision for themselves.

Split Pea Soup – healthy is important but enjoyment is essential

Expecting food to taste good is a legitimate expectation and guidelines for eating healthy need to acknowledge the legitimacy of this expectation. But before we get to that …

Its the middle of May here in New Yorks Hudson Valley but theres still enough chill in the air to justify a bowl hot steaming soup. Probably the last batch of the season however so when this pot is gone, no more soup until October or November.

Making my own means I decide which ingredients to use – extra virgin olive oil, lots of aromatics, and the right amount of salt for palatability. I wish one of the commercial manufacturers would come up with a way to make soup the way I like it. Current soup brands use too much salt and brands that market low salt versions are bland.

Nothing comes for free and soup making is time consuming – lots of chopping and prep work – not to mention the hour or two it takes to slowly soften those dry little green half sized peas plus putting the soup through my food mill, portioning it out, and freezing the units.

That’s why I wish I had a better option. But I don’t …

All my soups are NOVA friendly because they are all freshly prepared with minimally processed and culinary processed ingredients. Listed in descending order by weight, the ingredients are water, green split peas, onion, carrot, fennel, olive oil, parsley, salt.

Despite all the quality ingredients, the soups fails the test.

Why you maybe asking? Too much salt.

Im a bit of a contrarian dietitian here because first I make the soup that tastes good to me, then I go back and run the numbers to determine the stats. The label posted above is based on a generous cup, a little more that the reference amount of 245 grams. Usually home cooking is an excellent strategy for reducing dietary sodium. There are exceptions however and the most notable exception is soup.

My soups are not nearly as high as commercial brands which have almost twice as much sodium. And that is why, for me at least, commercial brands taste much too salty.


Palatable is a loaded word.

My fellow dietitians prefer to use words like nutrient-dense and healthy dietary patterns.

On the other side of the binary divide, cooks, chefs, food manufacturers, and eaters talk a lot about good tasting food. These folks may not actually use the word palatable but there is all round expectation that food should taste good.

Healthy is important, but enjoyment is essential. So even when I use all the tricks in the usual dietitian’s healthy eating playbook and it’s not enough, I say to myself, palatable beats healthy and it’s okay to break the rules.

Salade Composeé – compliance doesn’t have to be the kiss of death.

Just because one of my recipes can pass the Kiss Test doesn’t mean it’s not tasty or beautiful or prepared with the freshest best quality ingredients I can find. But before we get to that …

Anyone with a flare for graphic design can make an artfully arranged plate of salad. The French excel at the activity, but the skill required is universal. Maybe I’ve missed my calling because I really enjoy, just for the fun of it, arranging vegetables in geometric patterns on the plate. Pictured above is one of my better creations a “salade composée”. 

My salads are made with simple ingredients as you can see from the ingredient list for the salad pictured above. In descending order by weight: steamed whole farro, home cooked chickpeas, canned tuna, hardboiled egg, cucumber, tomatoes, olive oil, arugula, red cabbage, vinegar, parsley, Dijon mustard, salt.

The salad counts as a main dish because there are “credible” amounts of two Food Groups – VEGETABLES (chickpeas, greens) and PROTEIN (egg, tuna). Depending of course what else on the table, about two cups is what usually ends up on my plate so that’s the metric I used to run the Facts labels.

If I were making a label for a client, I might have to play around with the Reference Amount to meet compliance thresholds, but the numbers are within range so I can say with some certainty that my lovely beautiful delicious salad gets a pass.

Not all foods are scored the same way. Meat and cheese dishes have highly restrictive limits on saturated fat to qualify as healthy. Main dishes that include seafood, a source for bioactive compounds like Omega-3 fatty acids, and eggs however benefit from relaxed thresholds.


Personally, I have a problem with the reductionist approach to “healthy” championed by both USDA and FDA.

Healthy for me requires thinking holistically. Nutrients as well as food groups are important and need to be counted. But before reducing the plate to a counting components, I like to start by looking a the whole picture and thinking in terms of a whole food, a whole meal, or a whole day. Holistic thinking requires stepping back far enough so the whole picture can come into focus. As I used to tell my clients, it’s the choices you make most days that count.

As one of the researchers I follow puts it:

For decades, the nutri-centered (based on the nutrient content of foods) and reductionist scientific approach has dominated the development of worldwide nutritional recommendations and the development of composition scores to help choosing industrial foods. While this approach is useful for building food composition databases, correcting nutritional deficiencies and defining nutritional needs, it is useless for preventing chronic diseases and says almost nothing about the real health food potential. Indeed, one can fulfill all one’s nutritional needs while being chronically ill.

Dr. Fardet’s research focuses on the food matrix and how breaking the matrix affects digestion and metabolism. The whole kernel farro used in the salad includes both bran and germ. Canned tuna would is a source for omega-3 fatty acids. Intact eggs provide minerals, vitamins, choline, and multiple antioxidants. His research supports intact whole foods as the healthiest option. His findings are similar to those of the NOVA food classification system but include a more detailed research based holistic thinking.

This holistic approach to healthy makes more sense to my simplistic mind that the nutrient focused approach currently used by our Dietary Guidelines and FDA labeling regulations.

Sometimes compliance results in a tasty, artfully presented plate and sometimes it doesn’t. But I do enjoy a sense of personal satisfaction when one of my recipes gets a pass.

My Romance with Broccoli.

photo credit | gourmetmetrics

Pictured above is local seasonal north east broccoli. Pristine, lovely, and ready to use. And not a worm or an aberrant insect to be seen. I’m reposting my romance with broccoli in honor of the release of EWG Dirty Dozen 2023.

My broccoli is served braised in olive oil and garlic, sometime a pinch of salt. More than al dente but never over-cooked. I cut the flowered heads off from the stem, removing the tough fibrous skin from the stalks, and cut the stems into bite sized pieces. No need to get too fancy with broccoli because it tastes so good on its own.

We eat broccoli in season, but in the depths of a north east winter, that vibrant green California crop looks pretty good. So not being a purist, we also eat broccoli out of season. I’m okay with conventional during the winter when my local grocer has a good selection.

I used to get romantic about broccoli. Especially a broccoli that I picked myself right off the stalk. But I learned a harsh lesson during that first year I cooked in France. And I have looked at broccoli with a realistic eye ever since.

My friend Isabelle has a beautiful house and property in this little suburb half way between Paris and Versailles. She had an arrangement with a local gardener. He could grow whatever vegetable he wanted to and sell them in return for making the garden available to us. And we ate marvelously well from that garden!

I would just go out and pick whatever I wanted each day. Broccoli came in that fall and I was there to pick some for supper. But just once.

Being young and romantic I believed all that was natural was good. Now a farmer knows that when you grow broccoli, you have to deal with worms because worms love broccoli as much or than we do. However the farmer decides to grow broccoli, worms are part of the calculation. But I grew up in the suburbs so how was I supposed to know?

Conventional farmers use conventional pesticides; organic farmers use USDA organically approved pesticides. I don’t think this guy used anything. The broccoli was completely natural and completely full of worms.

I put up a valiant battle. But the worms outnumbered and out gunned me. There were so many I gave up trying and ended up dumping everything back out somewhere behind a bush. I could not look at broccoli again for a long time.

My love of broccoli did return but I lost every pixel pastoral romantic glow.

So I say God Bless whatever my organic farmer / conventional farmer needs to so I don’t have to deal with worms.

Roasted Cauliflower

photo credit | gourmetmetrics

Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable. Steamed, roasted, raw, or riced, the vegetable lends itself to multiple preparations. My preference is roasting with olive oil and seasoning with salt, both of which sharpen the vegetable’s delicate flavor.

Roasted cauliflower is the next recipe I’m putting to the Kiss ☠️ test.


Roasted cauliflower is absolutely and unequivocally food. As the picture above reflects, I cut each floret off that central woody stalk stalk. Or using NOVA terminology, I cut the “flowers” off one whole raw minimally processed cauliflower and added some traditional culinary processed ingredients so the ingredient list is short and simple: cauliflower, olive oil, salt, dried oregano.

How much roasted cauliflower ends up on my plate? Amounts can vary depending on what else goes on the plate, but I always tend to eat more than a single “servings” because I really enjoy the taste and the texture. Whatever your preference, lots or just a little, roasted cauliflower passes the food part of the test with flying colors.


My roasted cauliflower fails the Kiss ☠️ test because there’s too much saturated fat. I’m please to report however that the recipe with the “correct” serving size would meet the newly proposed FDA limit of 5% Daily Value for making a healthy claim.

At this point, I need to digress and talk a little about the complexities of fat composition. All fats are combinations of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Olive oil has a higher fraction of saturated fat than does say canola oil but remains predominantly an unsaturated fat. How can you tell? Because olive oil is liquid at room temperature..

Percentage Daily Value is not the only way to asses the impact of saturated fat. There is an alternate approach which is based on the ratio of unsaturated to saturated fat. This fatty acid ratio (FAR) is calculated by dividing the grams of unsaturated fatty acids by the grams of saturated fatty acids.

My roasted cauliflower has a good fatty acid ratio. Buried in that 40,000 word FDA proposal for updating the use of healthy is the suggestion that the agency is actually considering using the ratio approach as an alternate to Daily Value.


Roasted cauliflower is the first recipe I’ve examined that gets a MAYBE.

Things do changed over time. Back in the 1990s, the only criteria for healthy was nutrient focused, highly restrictive, and food was not even considered a valid criteria. That was the era was when a few brave restauranteurs attempted to offer low sodium and low fat menu items to their customers only to find nobody wanted to eat that kind of healthy. That was the era when the Kiss of Death was born.

Looking forward, I say kudos to the FDA for acknowledging that food counts. That’s a baby step in the right direction. I also applaud the FDA for even considering the use of the ratio approach for assessing the impact of saturated fat. Increasing the serving size will increase the percentage Daily Value. The good ratio of saturated to unsaturated fats however is not dependent on amount. The ratio is the same for a measly 1/2 cup as it is for the generous portion I like to see on my plate.