Quick: Smart Smart Balance

Got to keep 'em short this week.

So I'm sure that if you have read any of my homemade dishes you might have noticed me refer to using Smart Balance quite often in places where most people would use butter, margarine or oil. Savvy buyers probably are aware of Smart Balance, as it has exploded to overtake much of the butter section of most grocery stores. But isn't it just some lousy margarine or butter substitute that's actually not good for us? Well, I am not a nutritionist or a doctor, but from everything I've heard, it is not. Rather than being derived from hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (a.k.a. trans fats/ saturated fats) like many butter substitutes, Smart Balance is made from a combination of several heart healthy fruit oils, including extra virgin olive oil, canola, flaxseed and even fish oil for added Omega 3 benefits. Don't worry vegetarians; there is a low-salt fish-oil-free version available too. There is also a version that is a little heavier on the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for those who particularly like the health benefits of EVOO.

So, is this stuff healthier? Yes. It is low in fat, saturated fat and sodium, with no trans fat and almost no cholesterol. According to Oprah's health specialist Bob Green, who has approved these spreads for his Best Life Diet, the combination actually works to raise good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol. There is even a light version that is extremely low in all fats, while still maintaining the great combination of oils. Sounds good to me. So does this stuff replace butter functionally? Yes, it melts like butter (except for the light type), it spreads like margarine, you can use it to thicken and even in baking. Julia's even been successful with it in baking. And does it taste good? It tastes divine – like butter, better than margarine, with quite a bit less guilt. Once again, sounds good, right? That's probably why I use it a lot in my cooking now and even on toast. I sometimes even prefer it to using olive oil because it adds more flavor and adds less fat. So next time you need butter or margarine or oil, give Smart Balance a whirl. It could make you a little happy, and that's the number one thing a great food should do.


Anonymous said...

this crap doesn't task like butter nore does it cook right at all

~~BT~~ said...

Eek -- well maybe I exaggerated slightly, but I really DO like the taste better than any margarine. Also, I have found that the regular variety (not light) actually does cook/melt quite well. You are right about the light kind -- that's pretty much good for spreading and microwave melting. Both the light and regular are relatively "light" though, so I do not have a problem with either, depending on what I need them for. And yes, sometimes I use butter. But not too often.