For our family it is always tradition to have pie with our holiday meals. Typically we enjoy pumpkin or apple pie. In fact, my contribution this year for Thanksgiving is pie! I don’t know about you but I grew up with golden, flaky pie crusts made from Crisco.
It wasn’t until we started eating real food that we even questioned the ingredients in Crisco. It didn’t take us long to realize Crisco (and all other vegetable oils) are probably some of the most toxic things we can be putting in our bodies. Here’s why....
Vegetable oils are some of the most highly processed foods on the market.
In a nutshell...after the extensive processing, they are then hydrogenated so they will be solid at room temperature. The problem with this is that hydrogenation creates trans fats. According to the Mayo Clinic website, “trans fat is double trouble for your heart health. Trans fat is considered by many doctors to be the worst type of fat you can eat.”
Vegetable oils are extremely high in omega-6 fatty acids.
We all know about omega-3 fats as being “heart healthy” but what do omega-6’s do? While omega-3s are necessary to thin the blood, omega-6s are used to clot the blood.
In a perfect world, a ratio of 1:1 is ideal for your body to function optimally, however, due to the high consumption of processed foods (such as many of these vegetable oils which are found in almost every food you can buy) many Americans have a ratio of 20:1 (high in omega-6). Omega 6s wreak havoc on your body as they are responsible for inflammatory diseases (heart disease, diabetes, obesity, auto immune diseases, cancer).
This doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy pie any more. We all know the holidays wouldn’t be complete without it. The solution? LARD! In the past few years, lard has made a huge come-back as more people are being conscious of what they are eating.
Let’s talk a little about this awesome food.
Top 3 reasons you should be eating pastured lard
1. Lard is high in vitamin D. Here’s the kicker...lard isn’t high in vitamin D UNLESS the pig has access to sunlight. The reason being is because pigs synthesize vitamin D similar to the way humans do - through their skin. Rest assured, our pigs have access to unlimited sunshine. With winter coming, vitamin D deficiency is a real problem for those of us living in the tundra since we have limited access to sunshine. Eating lard from pastured pigs can be a great source of vitamin D which is known to help enhance your immune system.
2. Lard is high in saturated fat. I know what you are thinking, “Won’t this clog my arteries and then I’ll die from a heart attack?” The myth that saturated fat causes heart disease has been proven false numerous times. In fact, studies are now showing eating a diet that contains high quality saturated fats can have protective effects against heart disease.
The Framingham Heart Study began in 1948 and involved some 6,000 people from the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. After 40 years, the director of his study had to admit: “the more saturated fat one ate, the more cholesterol one ate, the more calories one ate, the lower the person’s serum cholesterol. . . we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.”
3. Lard is high in cholesterol. Yes, I know that scares you, too. But did you know that cholesterol is used as a healing agent for your body during times of stress or inflammation? Studies are showing that consuming cholesterol does not carry a cause-and-effect relationship with blood cholesterol levels. So by eating high quality sources of cholesterol you lessen the burden on your body to produce cholesterol. Another added benefit is that cholesterol is vital for the production of hormones so by eating lard you can help balance hormones!
"Don’t eat anything your great-great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. "
The quote from Michael Pollen will take you far when eating a whole foods diet. Now, your great-great-great grandmother more than likely had to butcher the pig she was going to eat.
Lucky for you, we drop it off at the butcher and you can kindly tell them you would like the lard from your pig and with minimal effort you can render your own using these steps below.
Cut the lard into chunks so it will fit into your crockpot.
Turn the crock pot on low.
After about an hour the fat should start to melt. You can give it a stir to prevent it from burning. Continue cooking until all the fat is melted. When it is ready you will see “cracklings” on the bottom of the crock pot and the fat will be over the top.
Grab a cheesecloth and place in a colander. Pour the liquid into the colander to strain out the cracklings. Pour the liquid into quart jars and let them cool.
Store the lard in the refrigerator or leave it on the counter so it is easy to scoop out of the jar.
And since the holidays just aren’t complete without pie, here is our secret family recipe to make your own beautiful, flaky pie crust that you can feel good about eating!
Guilt Free Pie Crust
Enough for 2 pie crusts
2 cups organic, unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp sea salt
¾ cup Nature's Pantry lard
¼ cup water
Mix together the flour and salt. Add in lard and mix until flour becomes crumbly. Slowly add in water just until the dough is moist enough to roll out. If dough is too wet, add a small amount of flour until consistency is right. Fill with your favorite pie filling!
From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!