Healthy, Vegan, Kosher – Holiday Baking & Cooking
Recently, we received a note asking about Earth Balance margarine. The reader wanted to know where to buy it, and more specifically, if she should. The answer from KosherEye, was a resounding YES! Earth Balance is a versatile, healthful margarine or should we say “natural spread” of choice. We use it for dairy–free baking, cooking, sautéing and spreading.
However, while doing our research for this feature, we finally were able to address our biggest Earth Balance challenge, and that is understanding the differences between products in the line and the optimum culinary purpose for each spread, tub or stick. There are actually 7 spreads – each packaged differently, but all parve (dairy–free).
Most medical experts concur that the first step in a heart–healthy diet is to reduce intake of foods containing bad cholesterol and trans fats, and this is an important reason to consider Earth Balance.
Surprisingly, we learned that Earth Balance Buttery Spreads actually do not meet the official FDA definition of margarine. Earth Balance products contain 79% fat – not the required 80% fat to be called margarine, and they do not contain hydrogenated oils, preservatives, and emulsifiers found in other butter alternatives. They are natural, trans–fat free and have been cited for award–winning flavor. Therefore, the products are proudly called spreads, since they are said to be “beyond margarine”.
The spreads are based on a blend of expeller–pressed oils developed and patented by researchers at Brandeis University. They are 100% natural, rich in Omega 3’s, free of GMO’s, trans fats, hydrogenated oils and artificial ingredients. Each is made with one or more of a combination of oils including palm fruit, soy, canola, and olive oils.
From our research, we finally understood the meaning of expeller pressed, cold pressed or extra virgin oils. Oils that are not labeled as such are often made using chemical solvents or extreme heat to separate the plant material from the oil. Oils that are labeled expeller, cold or extra virgin, use only pressure to separate oil from plant material – a purer, natural way to extract flavor and nutrients.
And now to the challenge – which Earth Balance product to use when? We have summarized Earth Balance suggestions below. All Earth Balance spreads are OU Kosher and parve.
• Gold tub, the Original: To spread on toast and as a baking ingredient and a butter alternative. 2010 winner of the American Tasting Institute award for best tasting natural buttery spread. Spread, sauté, fry, bake, cook
• Gold tub, Original spread, whipped: For topping toast, bagels, spreadable and organic. Spread, sauté, fry, cook
• Teal tub, Soy garden variety: Made with natural crushed whole soybeans and canola oil. Spread, sauté, fry, bake, cook
• Olive Green tub, Buttery spread with olive oil: Suggested for sauté, making sauces or as a topping for bread. Spread, sauté, fry, cook
• Red tub, Soy free natural buttery spread: Zero grams of trans fat, good source of Omega-3s;Similar to original, but without soy. Spread, sauté, fry, bake, cook
• Gold package, Vegan Buttery Sticks. “World’s first butter alternative in stick form, free of hydrogenated oils, trans fatty acids, and dietary cholesterol. Gluten free – all around excellent butter replacement.” Spread, sauté, fry, bake, cook
• Green package, Natural Shortening: “The world’s first 100% vegan shortening”. Free of cholesterol, trans fats, dairy and lactose. Baking, Frying naturally
For more information about Earth Balance spreads, visit Earth Balance.com.
September 19, 2011