Browsing Tag


The Shitty Oils In Our Snacks + Plantain Chip Recipe

November 2, 2014

I try very hard to eat as much real, whole food throughout my day as possible – from my eggs in the morning and my sweet potato and hot sauce snack in the late morning, to my veggie-packed salads at lunch and my afternoon apple.

But every once in a while, I just need a REAL snack. You know what I’m talking about. The kind that crunches and maybe leaves a layer of seasoning on your fingers after you’ve reached into the bag 5 or 6 or 20 times. I’m not talking Doritos, Cheeze-its and Chex Mix, here. I ruled those out a long time ago when I realized how much crap they contained. I’m talking about the healthier snack options that give me all the satisfaction without ingesting unidentifiable ingredients. I’ll snack my heart out, but I made a personal choice that if I do, it at least had to begin as a whole food before it was transformed into a snack.  

Side note: Shout-out to my Cheeze-it-loving work neighbor Neil – you know I love you and support your snack choices as long as they make you happy 🙂

That’s why I fell hard and fast for the snack aisle at Trader Joe’s. Wasabi peas, dried snap peas, crispy veggies and crunchy chips made with every healthy ingredient imaginable – kale, flax seeds, chia, plantains, quinoa. For me, it was love at first sight. I thought, so I can have all of my favorite healthy foods in snack form? Bring. It. On.

But, as usual, I couldn’t just accept this delicious convenience at face value. Why? Because any packaged food has a lot of mystery to it. No matter how healthy the label makes it look; you know very little about how the “food” you’re eating was created.

When inspecting, nutrition labels are always my first step. Trader Joe’s does a great job at using a short list of ingredients, all seemingly identifiable. 

Here are the ingredients in a few of my favorites:

Plantain Chips: Plantains, Sunflower Oil, Salt

Wasabi Peas: Green peas, corn starch, wheat flour, rice flour, sugar, palm oil, sea salt, wasabi (mustard powder).

Inner Peas: Whole green peas, vegetable oil (canola oil and/or sunflower oil), rice, salt, calcium carbonate, vitamin C

Pita Chips: Pita bread (unbleached wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water), sunflower and/or safflower oil, sea salt

APPARENTLY (said in the voice of the apparently kid), these ingredients are a lot more deceiving than they look because of one key factor.

The oil.

I know, I know. It sounds a little dramatic to hate on these snacks when there’s a lot worse you can do. But bear with me.

Not all oils are created equally. And we’ve been conditioned to believe certain oils are good for us (or at the very least, harmless). THEY’RE NOT.

Let’s break it down.

There are three types of oils: Saturated, Mono-Saturated and Polyunsaturated. Think of them like Goldilocks and the Three Bears (kind of). 

  • Polyunsaturated  = very unstable (too hot)
  • Mono-saturated = pretty stable (a little better)
  • Saturated = stable (just right)

Unfortunately, it’s the highly processed, polyunsaturated oils (also lovingly known as PUFAs) that are the most common ones used in packaged snack food.

Here are the PUFAs you know and love:

  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • “Vegetable” oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Margarine
  • Shortening
  • Any fake butter product (yeah Fabio, I’m talking to you)


Well, there are a few reasons. But the number one reason is these oils – believe it or not – CANNOT TAKE THE HEAT. In other words, they are not strong enough to stand up to the high temperatures that they are regularly cooked at. When you heat them, they deteriorate chemically (AKA, they go rancid). THIS IS BAD. 

You see, contrary to what you may think, PUFAs are not natural at all. Although they call them vegetable oils; they are actually manufactured chemically.

Let’s take canola oil. There is no such thing as a “canola.” It’s actually made from a hybrid version of the rapeseed. But they couldn’t use natural rapeseed to make oil because it contains high amounts of acid called toxic euricic acid. This baby is poisonous to the human body (say WHAT?). So to make it edible, they lowered the acid level by genetically modifying the seed.

To produce canola oil, they heat the rapeseed and extract the oil using a petroleum solvent. Then they do another round of heat to remove the solids that occur during the first processing. This is then followed by adding more chemicals to improve color, texture and smell. It gets more complicated, but I have no business explaining it because I am no scientist. Which is exactly the point.

I shouldn’t have to be a scientist to understand how my food is made. 

Saturated, stable fats like butter and coconut oil on the other hand, are made in a few simple steps with little-to-no processing, don’t release foreign chemicals into your body when ingested and CAN TAKE THE HEAT (they’re stable. Duh). Milk cow, let cream separate naturally, skim off cream, shake until it becomes butter. DONE.

Unfortunately, these stable fats are expensive. They’re the last thing that food companies want to use when processing mass amounts of a snack. PUFAs, however, are nice and cheap to use. Which means they are EVERYWHERE. If you’re not cooking with them, you’re definitely eating them in any pre-packaged foods, i.e. SNACKS. The worst part is, now that I’ve told you, you won’t be able to ignore it (please don’t hate me for doing that to you). Yep. Every time I turn over a snack package to read the ingredients, 95% of the time, one of the aforementioned oils are on the list.

Sometimes it really sucks knowing this much. 


With all this said, I don’t fault Trader Joe’s at all for their ingredients. In the grand scheme of things, their snack options are worlds healthier than a lot of the other shit out there. And I am eternally grateful to them for providing me with those options for me and others on tight budgets.

However, in my quest to make the healthiest choices for my body (and be a test dummy for you, my readers), I am going to do my darndest to make sure my snacks are made with the right oils.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that just meant picking the good-oil snacks up at the store? Yeah, when pigs fly out of my butt (said in the voice of Wayne Campbell). Of course, there are options out there, but they are expensive and hard to find. So what is the best option? (Yell it out if you know it).


As always, if I can make it myself (and get it right), not only will I feel better about what I am eating, but it will taste better too (way better).

If I had to pick one packaged food snack that I love the most it would be Trader Joe’s plantain chips – hands down. If you’ve never tried them, I encourage you to ignore everything I said in this post, run to Trader Joe’s, and devour a bag in one sitting, just so you can understand where I am coming from.

Okay, back to the point. I made it my mission to create Trader Stacey’s Plantain Chips: A whole-r, better plantain chip made with the oils of my choice.

The result? Well, they don’t taste like the TJ brand. But they are pretty damn good. And I plan to make them many more times, which means they are bound to get better with every try. So please proceed with an open mind and an open jar of saturated, stable oil. Here’s the recipe.



  • 3 GREEN plantains (the less ripe, the less sweet and the more savory)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Coconut oil or Ghee (eyeball it)
  • Seasonings of choice (I used garlic, cayenne and paprika)
  • Salt & Pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Slice open peel by chopping the ends first and then scoring the sides with a knife
  3. Slice the plantain VERY thin (I don’t have a mandolin so I just used my steady hand, but if you have one, I’m sure it would make things easier). I also sliced them on the diagonal so they would be flatter and wider.
  4. Repeat with the other two plantains
  5. Toss in a bowl with the melted coconut oil
  6. Sprinkle seasonings on both sides
  7. Place on baking sheet over parchment paper
  8. Put in oven for 15 minutes
  9. Pull them out of the oven, flip them over and MASH THEM DOWN with a spoon, a spatula or the bottom of a glass. THIS IS WHAT HELPS THEM GET CRISPIER without frying them.
  10. Stick them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. Check on periodically until they are a little browned and you’re happy with them. I think it depends on personal taste how “done” you want them. I like to err on the side of undercooked rather than overcooked.


I only just scratched the surface of this oil discussion in this post. And it made me realize, this has HEALTHY STACEY SERIES written all over it. So far I’ve told you that most of the oils we eat (in packaged foods) are chemically processed. And although we all know that’s not a great sign, it doesn’t necessarily translate to how it hurts you by eating it. And it doesn’t tell you what oils you should eat instead? Or what packaged foods ARE out there that are safe to eat? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS. So get excited. Because I just got inspired to write THE OIL SERIES.

Next Up:

Omega-3 is from Mars, Omega-6 is from Venus





Healthy Body

Butter is GOOD

May 3, 2014

A brief history of my experience with Butter and Fat. 

In third grade, I learned the food pyramid. My class was taught that when it comes to fats: USE SPARINGLY. If you are going to eat fats, go for lean meats, skim milk, or lowfat dairy.  

In sixth grade, I went on my first diet. I indulged in Special K cereal, Rice Cakes, Yoplait Light, Slim Fast Bars, Diet Coke, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter,” and – if I was really feeling indulgent – Snack Well cookies.

In high school, I found cooking. Pam cooking spray was my “fat” of choice for every dish – even when it called for real oil. This served for some very dried out, stick-to-the-pan, hard to swallow dishes – as you can imagine.

By college, I was becoming a Whole Food Head (I just made this word up). This led me down my path to Veganism. Although it had its benefits, I still harbored low-fat tendencies. After all, it had been ingrained in me since 3rd grade. Why would I question something so absolute?

Today, at 28 years old, I am excited to declare that I HAVE LET FAT BACK INTO MY LIFE. It’s been a long road, but it feels good to be here.

Now, let me explain why.

About 30 years ago, a war was declared on saturated fats. A very publicized study tried to prove that saturated fats (like those found in butter) were causing cardiovascular disease. “The Seven Countries Study” looked at 12,763 men from seven different countries and showed that there was correlation between fat and heart disease. What resulted was an explosion of marketing, telling us that fat is bad for us. Most of us came to accept the following guidelines as universal truths:

  • Butter is bad and fattening and low fat is good and slimming.
  • Never order whole milk with your Starbucks.
  • Buy the non-fat yogurt at the grocery store – or 2% at the very least.
  • Choose egg whites over the whole eggs (you can even get them in a carton!)
  • If you continue to eat butter, you will die of heart disease, or at the very least, get fat.

And what happened to Americans when they accepted these truths?

Their amount of calories from consumed fat fell from 40 percent to 30 percent. (Congratulations!)

But oddly enough, obesity and heart disease remained the country’s number one killer. (Doh!) 

It wasn’t until 2010, that the first study surfaced that questioned the saturated fat dogma. In an evaluation of 21 studies and 350,000 subjects, researchers found that saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. And slowly but surely, other studies surfaced that found similar results. 

By the way, it was also discovered that The Seven Countries Study was flawed. It left out a lot of data – including the fact that the study followed 22 countries – not just 7, many of which had a low correlation between saturated fat and heart disease. Whoops!

Note that there is still research to be done and questions to be answered. But what we’re finally seeing is that fat is not bad for you, is not directly correlated to heart disease, and is not what is making us all fat.

What I find most exciting is that butter can actually be GOOD for you. Say what?! Hold on to your hats. Now for the best part…

The Top 10 Reasons Why Butter & Fat Is Good

1. It has awesome vitamins. Butter contains fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, E and K2. Fat soluble, meaning that the only way you can absorb these vitamins is with a sufficient amount of fat. The benefits?

  • Vitamin A – vision, immune system and reproduction.
  • Vitamin E – Antioxidant to protect cells from the damage of free radicals.
  • Vitamin K2 – Helps with blood clotting, protection from heart disease, promotes healthy skin, strong bones and brain function.

2. It is not fake. The highly processed trans fats in margarine, soy butters and butter mixes have actually been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Butter – specifically butter from grass fed cows – is 100% nutrient-filled whole food. If you’d like to know the best butters for your health, I highly suggest you read this post from the Food Babe

3. It promotes bile release. It sounds icky, but believe me, you want this to happen. Bile stores toxins and hormones that need to leave the body. If you don’t eat enough fat, the bile just sits in the gallbladder, getting thicker and thicker. After years or even just months on a low fat diet, serious congestion builds up. The result? Gallstones.

4. It has the cholesterol that you need. You may have heard by now that there is good cholesterol (HDL) and there is bad cholesterol (LDL). But what you often aren’t told is that not all LDL cholesterol is bad. Here’s why you actually want the cholesterol from butter:

  • The large fluffy LDL particles found in butter are benign and actually help to raise the HDL (which is good for you.)
  • The other type of LDL – the smaller, denser kind, is correlated to heart disease.
  • While butter, animal fats and coconut oil can change the dense LDL to fluffy LDL (good), processed foods like cereal and vegetable oil change the fluffy LDL to dense LDL (bad).

5. It controls blood sugar. To keep our blood sugar levels from falling and skyrocketing, we need to balance it with fat. Fat slows down the absorption of glucose in the bloodstream, controlling sugar levels from going all over the place. This is a big reason why low-fat recipes are a big problem. They overcompensate for flavor by adding sugar. High sugar + low fat = no control over sugar levels. 3pm cookie craving anyone?

6. It digests protein. Protein and fat are naturally born together for a reason (eggs, milk, fish, meats). In an egg, the vitamins and fatty acids are in the yolk; not the white. You need the fat (the yolk) to digest the protein (the white). Which means you can stop ordering those egg white omelets at breakfast. Yay!

7. It balances hormones. Women need a sufficient amount of saturated fat to get their progesterone. And men need a sufficient amount for their testosterone. Without it, excess estrogen builds up in the body. The estrogen is supposed to be packaged into the bile so it can be excreted with food waste. But if the bile is not released, it just sits in the liver and gallbladder. The result of a low fat diet on our sex lives? PMS for women and erectile dysfunction for men. Hmm.

8. It keeps the liver working. The liver’s job is to collect the body’s toxins, package them into bile, and then release them when we digest our food. Without the adequate fat to signal bile release, the bile builds up (see #3), and the body ends up reabsorbing the toxic substances.

9. It helps you lose weight (seriously!). Every time you have a low-fat snack (often made with fake sugars), your body is left unsatisfied. While butter digests slowly – into the bloodstream and into the gallbladder – low fat foods do not. That means you will get hungry much faster and will crave more low fat foods to satisfy your body. A vicious cycle of processed foods, toxic buildup and dissatisfaction.

10. It makes food taste good. This reason needs no explanation. I missed the beautiful, buttery, satisfying taste of fat. In the last few months, I feel like I’m experiencing it for the first time. Not only has my cooking benefited immensely, the peace of mind that comes with knowing I can – and should -enjoy this food makes it tastes better than I ever remember. You know – from back in 2nd grade.  

An amazing chicken casserole I made featuring chicken marinated in coconut oil, then simmered with Ghee (clarified butter) and a pad of grass-fed butter. So good - and so good for me! What a concept.

An amazing chicken casserole I made featuring chicken marinated in coconut oil, then simmered with Ghee (clarified butter) and a pad of grass-fed butter. So good – and so good for me! What a concept.

So now that I’ve given you the lowdown on butter, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you agree? Disagree? Curious to learn more? Suddenly have a craving for buttered toast with cinnamon? Or is that just me?