[Disclosure: I was invited to attend the breakfast and orchard tour referenced in this post as a guest of the Almond Board of California. I was not compensated for my time to attend, nor to write this post. Opinions expressed are my own.]
I love it when people ask the question — “Is fat back?”
And I have to ask “Where did it go?”
Did I miss the memo?
For a while, were there were only 2 macronutrients… protein and carbohydrate?
I’m fairly certain that unless you were Susan Powder (anybody remember her?), you never really gave up fat completely. Sure, maybe you threw a box of Snackwell’s fat-free cookies in your shopping cart circa 1993, but c’mon. Did you really ever stop buying butter and oil all together?
I didn’t. And very few RDs that I know of did either. Most of us “got” that fat wasn’t evil, but somehow that fact didn't make for scary enough headlines. Nor did it fit that need so many Americans have to eschew one food or food group in the name of “health.” The problem is that the people who celebrate their ability to eat “-free” of the dietary evil of the day are often the same people who then replace that part of their diet with something even less beneficial (Snackwell’s case in point — replacing fat with sugar. Never, ever a good idea.)
This whole topic was the focus of a breakfast I recently attended courtesy of the Almond Board of California in conjunction with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. In that breakfast, attendees (made up mostly of registered dietitians) were reminded that this notion of sacrificing one food only to increase another won’t make the positive impact over time that people are aiming for.
But again, this isn’t “new news” to most RDs or the Almond Board for sure. They’ve conducted more than 100 studies over the last 20 years to demonstrate that almonds — obviously a rich source of fat — are beneficial in areas of heart health, diabetes and even… yes… weight management.
So how can a fat-packed food help with weight management? At face value, it doesn’t seem to make sense, right? Almonds (and all nuts for that matter) are high in calories. So how can a high calorie food actually help guard against weight gain? It doesn’t add up, right?
My husband has a co-worker who says that everything he (my husband) does in life — whether it’s an obstacle or an opportunity — he does as a math exercise. And I don’t necessarily disagree. But where Mr. ReganMillerJones, Inc. sometimes misses the mark is that there are intangibles in life that can’t be assigned a quantity or measured in math. And the same holds true for our physiological response to eating. Yes… a huge portion of weight maintenance is the macronutrient balance of calories in versus calories out, but...
...the degree to which you are “satisfied” after a meal; the level at which your body is able absorb and utilize fat-soluble vitamins; and frankly, the intrinsic enjoyment of a desirable mouth feel and unique flavor profile that only fat can provide is something that can’t be measure by a 24-hour diet recall and calorie count.
And it's this last part that really is the "new news" to some dietitians (we tend to be math nerds like Mr.RMJInc) ... and what made the most impact on me in the breakfast I mentioned earlier.
Fellow dietitian, Kate Geagan (who I absolutely adore and find myself crushing on in a purely psuedo-professional, non-scary way #IHope) pointed out that it’s these “immediate” benefits that we as professionals must “sell” to our readers, patients or clients. Convincing someone that they might not be as likely to have a heart attack 25 years in the future, doesn’t impact healthy choices for most people. But sharing immediate benefits — whether it’s taste or satiety, a time-saving ingredient or even a snack recommendation for sustained energy through a busy day — are the most effective ways to inspire immediate dietary change.
With that said, it is important to note that perhaps all fats are not equal on the spectrum of harmful to less harmful to beneficial. The overwhelming support via the research is to replace saturated fats more often with plant-based or unsaturated fats — like nuts, nut butters, oils, seeds, avocados, etc.
To that end, today’s recipe is inspired by a yummy variety of flavored almonds I tasted while also a guest of the Almond Board of California late this summer to experience the almond harvest (no, I don’t exclusively attend Almond Board events… but when I do, I enjoy them!) I’ll share more about that experience later this week, but this recipe is too good to wait. It’s a quick-and-easy, soup perfect for fall… thickened with creamy sweet potato and almond butter and spiced with chipotle seasoning and salsa verde. It’s so simple, you’ll be amazed at how rich it tastes — and in just 10 minutes.
Ready in 10 minutes, this Spicy Sweet Potato Almond Soup is perfect for lunch! Tweet this
Spicy Sweet Potato-Almond Soup
- 1 can sweet potato puree
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup salsa verde
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond butter
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Garnishes: chipotle seasoning, sliced almonds and lime wedges
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring just to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until heated throughout. Garnish with additional chipotle seasoning, sliced almonds and lime wedges.