Not all fats are created equal. When reading the ingredient list on a package, people's first tendency is to check calorie and fat content. The common perception is that all fatty foods are unhealthy. The reality is that the human body needs fat in order to function correctly. A diet devoid of fat can not only be boring, it can actually keep a person "fat."
The trick is fitting the right kinds of healthy fats into your diet in the right ways. How can fat be healthy, you ask? I'm not talking about beer-battered onion rings dipped in bacon ranch (though that is certainly delicious). I'm talking about foods like fish rich in Omega-3, olives, avocados, nuts, oils made from nuts, seeds and olives. All of these healthy fatty foods add huge flavor to meals. It's unsaturated fats like these that make life good, tasty and flavorful. They also help the body to absorb nutrients, with favorable effects on blood cholesterol. Perhaps most convenient of all, healthy unsaturated fats make it easier to stick with a weight-loss diet plan that would otherwise feel restrictive. In dieting, the majority of the challenge is mental. Chalk it up to human nature - we always seem to want what we've told ourselves we cannot have. Being allowed to indulge in slices of creamy avocado on an omelet or a handful of walnuts as a snack can help satisfy cravings for unhealthy fatty foods.
The boom in technology over the last two decades has given us instant access to information. Consumers are more aware than ever before that what they eat can have both positive and negative effects. Balance of mood, energy levels, digestion and even the rate the body heals are impacted by what you stuff in your mouth. Round out your food intake by adding tons of vegetables, lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates and watch the cravings disappear.
Check out these health-conscious dishes served at area restaurants.
All the bases are covered in the antipasta plate served at Villa Caffé and Imbibery (1328 Market St.). Load up slices of baguette with meats, cheeses, a selection of olives, nuts, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. Sliced tomatoes, fragrant basil leaves and mozzarella in the caprese insalate are drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction and olive oil. Ground basil, olive oil and pine nuts in pesto give the salad an added zip of flavor.
Grilled swordfish skewers at The Social Bar and Grill (1715 Dock St.) are a perfectly simple protein rich way to eat healthy fats. Brushed with seasoned olive oil, the skewers are served with a chunky roasted pepper and caper chimichurri. The ahi poke, a dish of raw sashimi grade tuna, is allowed to marinate in a mix of sake, sesame oil, soy sauce and seaweed. Check out sautéed prawns, clams, and pan-seared swordfish for dishes low in unhealthy fat.
Chef William at Babblin' Babs Bistro (2724 N. Proctor St.) makes a Bering Sea cod loin breakfast dish that's full of all the right things; roasted chili pepper sauce, pico de gallo, house-made chorizo and crisp tortilla make for an excellent texture contrast.
Just up the street at the Pacific Northwest Shop (2702 N. Proctor St.), also in Tacoma's Proctor District, a selection of alder smoked, wild raised and wild caught salmon is sold. Toss some on a bagel for a smart, quick meal at home.
It may not get any more pure than eating sashimi as a source of Omega-3 fats. Gari of Sushi (1209 S. 38th St.) is one of Tacoma's "hidden" gems. Completely remodeled a few years ago, the interior is in sharp contrast to the exterior. Located in a non-descript building on the east side of Interstate-5, this is where locals go for their sushi fix. Scallops, barbecued eel, hamachi, octopus, salmon and clam are so fresh and light tasting that it's heavenly. Escolar, a personal favorite, is a creamy and flavor filled buttery white fish. I eat it large quantities free of guilt.
LINK: Good for you greens