Salt, Fat, and Sugar: Why Eating Tasty Food Can Solve America’s Food Problem


(photo: grilled and baked zucchini with breadcrumbs, parsley, and grated Grana Padano)

Let’s face it you can’t always eat what you desire to eat.  For example, I crave salt more than any other substance on the planet and if it was up to my primordial brain I’d consume it primarily through cured pork products like coppa, mocetta, and prosciutto.  There are nights when I dream in salted and cured pig.  But, alas, if I ate what my right hemisphere told me to shove in my mouth then I’d most likely suffer through a series of heart attacks caused by sky high blood pressure and ultimately concede to an early death.

So, in the interest of living longer than my Italian ancestors in Calabria I take a fairly stringent approach to poorly fried foods, sugary items / sweets, and overly salted food items.  On the processed food side, I take a monastic approach; namely, I refrain from all products made by the devil himself (so, yes, I’m not a big fan of the big box supermarket and wildly decorated boxes containing calorie laden substances made in a factory).  I do have a high metabolism (equivalent to humming bird, some say) and I’m currently a slave to my favorite activity (i.e., tennis) so I’m blessed in minor, physical, ways, but lets just say if I wanted to gain weight I could easily do so.

One of the key aspects of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to eat tasty foods (there’s no way around the basic fact that humans desire flavor in whatever they put in their mouth; whether it comes in the form of salt, fat, or sugar).  I like to cook foods that are seasoned well, contain great variety, and have very high nutritional value.  As an example, take last night’s dinner:
  • Grilled chicken breast marinated in garlic, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil (the oil was from, Alina – La Pennita Brisighella 2010 Extra Virgin Olive Oil).  
  • Grilled zucchini which are then baked with breadcrumbs, grated grana padana, extra virgin olive oil, and parsley 
  • Whole Wheat Cous Cous with sun dried tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil 
The chicken was tender and had great lemon and garlic flavors, plus it filled me up with lots of good protein.  The zucchini satisfied my cheese fix and the baked breadcrumbs were hearty.  The cous cous was light and packed with flavor from the vinegar, sun dried tomatoes, and parsley.  All in all, it was a very satisfying meal with relatively low fat and salt (there are food critics who are telling folks there’s nothing wrong with salt and fat; to this I say listen to your body and not the critics).  I also consumed a glass of red wine.   
My point above is not to gloat about a recent “healthy” dinner rather to convey that eating well is all about choice and culinary perspective.  If you’re a wage earner in the United States you have access to some of the cheapest food on the planet (fresh food included and independent of fancy labels like local, organic, etc.).  If you’re a life long citizen of our great country then you probably don’t have culinary perspective and the ability to improvise and cook great tasting food that isn’t firmly situated in the tradition of using abundant salt, fat, and sugars.  This isn’t meant as an insult to the average American it’s just that there our culinary tradition is in the stone-age compared to other parts of the world.  Recent immigrants have culinary perspective, for example, and even with little money most new arrivals in the United States put  tasty food preparation and the center of their existent and you should too!


  1. Recipe Pasta and Bean Soup: Pasta e Fagioli

    (photo: traditional Calabrian Pasta and Bean Soup and/or Pasta e Fagioli)In Italy Cranberry beans are known as borlotti and they are at the heart of the traditional Pasta e Fagioli soup.  An uncooked cranberry bean has red marks but when…

  2. I have always felt this way. Ever notice how the TRUE food lovers– those who like everything, cook everything, and are always seeking out the best of everything– typically aren’t fat? It’s the picky eaters that usually have weight problems.

    I actually track my caloric intake. Since I’m a small woman and I have a desk job I only allow myself around 1400 calories a day (otherwise I gain weight). Despite the calorie restriction I eat whatever I want and never feel deprived! It’s just a matter of portion control, which is easy if you really enjoy and pay attention to what you’re eating.

    Today I’ve had/am having:

    Yogurt with quince jelly and a cup of coffee (108 calories)
    Pasta al forno con pomodori e formaggio (376 calories)
    An apple, an avocado tartine, and another cup of coffee (260 calories)
    Shaved fennel salad, smoked salmon and potato cake, asparagus with miso butter (298 calories)

    After all that I still have around 380 calories remaining– maybe I’ll add a couple glasses of wine or a slice of cake. 🙂

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.