Good Fat, Bad Fat

Fat can get such a bad rap, and as a dietitian in pains me when people avoid things like avocado because “they’re so fatty” or automatically reach for anything listed as “fat free” in the grocery aisles regardless the nutrition of the food. Fat can be great for you- it makes our food taste good, it can help create a feeling of satiety and can even be healthy for your heart. Below we break down the fats for what to avoid and the types to choose for keeping a healthy heart.
Fats to Avoid:
Saturated Fats- These fats are found in foods from animal origins such as meat, full fat dairy and also tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil as well as cocoa butter. You can also find saturated fats in processed foods- read the nutrition facts label and keeping the saturated fat content to 3 grams or less per serving. Saturated fat is on our bad list as it can raise your LDL cholesterol, the stuff that clogs up arteries.
Trans Fats- I introduce this fat to clients as the “devil of all fat.” Dramatic, yes, but I feel strongly about avoiding this man-made fat as it can both increase your bad, LDL cholesterol and lower your good, HDL cholesterol (the good stuff that can help to clean your arteries). Trans fat is found in foods such as stick margarine, shortening, some processed peanut butters and some packaged foods/baked goods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
Fats to Choose:
Monounsaturated Fats- This form of fat is found in foods such as avocados, natural peanut butter, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans, peanuts and canola, olive and peanut oil. This healthy fat can help to decrease the bad LDL cholesterol and increase the good HDL cholesterol; a one-two punch for heart health.
Polyunsaturated Fats- This type of fat may also lower the bad, LDL cholesterol and is found in sunflower seeds, tub margarine and vegetable oils such as sunflower, cottonseed, soybean and safflower oils.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids- This is a type of polyunsaturated fat that may actually help to prevent blood clots and the clogging and hardening of arteries. Omegas may also help to raise good HDL cholesterol and lower bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Find this benefit-packed fatty acid in foods such as fatty fish (examples: salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel and rainbow trout), tofu and soybean products, walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil. Try to include one serving per day of an omega-rich food and enjoy a serving of fatty fish at least 2 times per week to keep on track with recommendations from the American Heart Association.
A Note on Serving Sizes:
It’s always important to remember the serving size when it comes to fat as they do have the highest calories per serving than any other food group. For oils, 1 tablespoon per meal is a good rule of thumb and always check the serving sizes for nuts, seeds and nut butters to keep on track for calories.

Is Coconut a Nut?

I have come across this curious question over the past few weeks.  I noticed that some of the manufacturers of foods that we have been sampling  have been informing us that their facilities are nut free except for coconut.

Initially, I thought, coconut is not a tree nut so why is this relevant?  I decided to look into it to fully understand why it was being mentioned.

It turns out that the FDA decided to place coconut on the list of tree nuts several years ago.  It is unclear why the FDA moved to make coconut a tree nut but I had never heard of or seen any overlap between tree nut allergy and coconut allergy so I decided to do the research as well as ask some experts.  Our allergists and customer advisory council members were incredibly helpful.

The coconut is not a true nut at all.  Here is a very helpful explanation of what a coconut is:

Is a coconut a fruit, nut or seed?

Botanically speaking, a coconut is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, also known as a dry drupe.

A drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive) and comes from the word drupa meaning overripe olive.

More importantly, scientists have studied whether there is an association between tree nut allergy and coconut allergy and have found none.  A study published in the Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Journal and done at our wonderful Boston Children’s Hospital concluded that:

Children with peanut or tree nut sensitization were more likely to be sensitized to sesame but not coconut.

Based on this information as well as the expert opinions of several allergists, I would like to clarify our criteria for our Nut Allergy and Top 8 Allergy TasterieBoxes:

Our Nut Allergy and Top 8 Allergy TasterieBoxes only use products reported by the manufacturer to be made in nut-free facilities, but these facilities may also process coconut.  None of our Nut Allergy and Top 8 Allergy TasterieBoxes contain coconut as a listed ingredient.

Please check out our Ingredients Disclaimer for more information.

I would to love know your thoughts on this.

Recipe Round-Up

Each Monday we host an allergy friendly recipe party on our facebook page where we invite people to share heir favorite recipes that are free of a specific allergy. They can be nut free, gluten free, shelfish free, egg free, dairy free, or even vegan. I always enjoy looking through the recipes that people share or suggest we look into. Here are some of our favorites that are sure to make your summer time tasty!

Gluten and dairy free Chocolate Brownie Clusters from What A Girl Eats

Chocolate Brownie Clusters


Gluten and nut free Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins by Momables



Dairy free Fudgsicles by Brittany Angell



Gluten free Blackberry Lemon Cupcakes from The Cupcake Daily Blog

Blackberry Lemon Cupcakes - Gluten Free


Nut free Apple Pancakes by Dear Darling’s Recipes


Dairy, gluten, and nut free Chocolate Sorbet from Seasonal and Holiday Recipe Exchange


Gluten free Lemon Cheesecake Blueberry Bars from What A Girl Eats

Lemon cheesecake blueberry swirl bars.

Is you mouth watering, because mine sure is!

Recipe: Quinoa Tabouli

Hi everyone. Today I am sharing a wonderfully yummy summer side recipe from Homa over at Oh Mah Deehness! She is a food allergy mom who has some excellent allergen friendly recipes for the whole family to enjoy. Since summer is just around the corner and cookout season is in full swing, I thought I would share her quinoa tabouli with you all today! The following is from her site, which you should definitely check out!



I always suggest this cool summer salad to people when they are looking for a way to spruce up their quinoa (a wonderful staple all alone) and yet I’ve never posted about it!  Quinoa makes a great stand in for the usual tabouli base of wheat bulgur.


  • Cutting board and knife
  • Large Bowl
  • Scale and/or measuring cups


  • 3.5 cups cooked quinoa (about 640 grams) – this would be just a little over 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 4 or 5 leaves (or 2 grams) of minced fresh mint – you can of course put more but the mint I’d purchased wasn’t all good
  • 20 diced grape tomatoes (or 2 servings at 85 grams each)
  • 100 grams of onion (or half a medium onion), diced
  • 10 grams of parsley (about half a cup), minced
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (fresh or bottled, though fresh is tastiest)
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil – this is where I was trying to save calories)
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional, sometimes kids don’t like a strong garlic flavor) or 1 tsp of granulated garlic
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste


This is a very forgiving recipe, you can really cook any amount of quinoa to suit the proportion of herbs that you have but I had made quinoa the night before and had 3.5 cups of cooked quinoa left, hence the weird measurement here.  So rinse one to two cups of dry quinoa thoroughly while double the water is brought to a boil on your stove.  1 cup of quinoa needs 2 cups of water, and so on.  When the water is boiling, add your rinsed quinoa and reduce the heat to low, covering your pot with a lid and setting your timer at 15-20 minutes.  15 minutes usually does the trick for a cup of quinoa.  When the quinoa is fluffy, you’ll want to remove it from the heat and let it cool.

Chop your mint, parsley, onions, garlic, and tomatoes and combine with the cooled quinoa.  Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate a few hours or over night.  The flavors improve the longer the dish rests.  95 grams of the recipe I made above is about 102 calories which is not far removed from the usual nutritional profile of quinoa.


Sounds delicious, right?!