Better your butter

Butter – real butter.  I love it and it’s a staple in my kitchen.  I try to use it sparingly, but I’d rather have small amounts of the real thing than settle for an inferior substitute.

Actually, I love butter so much than when I was a little kid, I’d sometimes stick my finger in the soft stick we kept in the cupboard.  When confronted by my parents and shown the toddler-finger-sized imprint – indisputable evidence, given that I was an only child – I’m pretty sure I denied it.  But these days I embrace the truth: butter is delicious.

My favorite way to get a delicious butter fix without overloading on calories and saturated fats?  By browning it.

Brown butter (also known as black butter) is so flavorful that you only need a very small amount.  And it’s easy to make: you just cook butter in a saucepan until it turns dark brown.  The result is a sweet, nutty butter sauce that goes well on pretty much anything: pasta, meat, ice cream…yes, ice cream…

Anyway, yesterday I had some salmon steaks to use up and came across a recipe from Epicurious that sounded just awesome: Spicy Grilled Salmon Steaks with Black Butter.

Easy and delicious, the recipe was a major win!

And you know what?  In spite of the awesome buttery flavor, there was barely a tablespoon of butter in the whole thing (two massive salmon steaks, with some to spare).  That makes this a relatively healthy recipe in my book.  Combined with the spicy rub, this was some seriously flavorful fish!

So if you want maximum flavor from your butter, just stick it in a pan and burn it. How could it be any easier?  Instant delicious sauce.

Butter gets such a bad rap, and I think it’s undeserved.  Butter is kind of like profanity: if you use it constantly and can’t get through a day without it, that’s a bad thing.  But used sparingly and properly executed?  A wonderful addition to a world that’s sometimes way too boring and bland.

Today’s EAT:  I had mac and cheese on the brain in a huge way tonight.  Sadly, there was no boxed mix in my cupboard.

I did, however, have a sweet potato.  And some pasta.  And a little cube of cheddar cheese.  Hmm.

If butternut squash could be a good stand-in for creamy cheese in one of my favorite recipes ever, why not sweet potato?  I certainly wasn’t gonna deal with the whole baking thing – not in this scorching weather! – but what if I just mashed some stuff together?

WIN.

I didn’t measure any of the stuff I mashed together, but it was approximately: one sweet potato, boiled until tender; one (dry) handful whole wheat penne, cooked; 1/2 TBSP butter; 1/4C cheddar cheese, grated; 1/2C plain greek yogurt.

Carby, starchy, cheesy goodness.  Except, there was hardly any cheese.  I think the yogurt supplied much of the tangy, cheesy flavor.  Unreal how easy and delicious this was!

I served it as a side for two, alongside steak and roasted asparagus.  What a feast for a Tuesday night!

Today’s DRINK: As I shuffled home from the track tonight, two words echoed in my head:

BEER – GATORADE – BEER – GATORADE – BEER – GATORADE – BEER

Okay, so I crave liquid carbs after a hard workout!

The Gatorade piece was satiated at a deli on 2nd Avenue.  The rest of the way home, then, it was just:

BEER – BEER – BEER – BEER – BEER

A girl’s gotta give in to her cravings, right?

I popped open this Lighthouse Ale from Fire Island Beer Company when I got in the door!  It’s a pretty light beer – kinda similar to, like, Stella.  Tasty and refreshing.

Today’s RUN: So it was really hot in NYC today.  Like, record-shattering, triple-digits hot.

Is it a testament to the insanity that is CPTC that a good 35 people still showed up at the track tonight?  Is it a reflection on my own sanity that I was one of them?

Tonight’s workout was – mercifully – a bit shorter than normal.  Still, this is the first track workout I’ve run all year where I bonked out, slowed down, and felt like garbage.  Bleh.

The assignment: a double pyramid.  800, 600, 400, 200.  Times two.  The 800 and 600 were to be at 5K pace; the 400 at 3K pace; and the 200 at mile pace.  200M recovery throughout, except for between the sets, where we got a full 400 lap.

The results: Given the conditions, I’m not at all disappointed in the overall pace.  Today was not a day to set any speed records.  I am, however, a bit disappointed in my (lack of) ability to gauge my effort and not blow my load during the first set.  Meh.

800 – 3:08 – 6:16 pace
600 – 2:19 – 6:10 pace
400 – 1:28 – 5:52 pace
200 – 0:40 – 5:20 pace

800 – 3:15 – 6:30 pace (yikes)
600 – 2:27 – 6:32 pace (agony)
400 – 1:30 – 6:00 pace (vomit?)
200 – 0:39 – 5:12 pace (just get this over with as quickly as possible, please)

All in all, with warm and cool down, 7 miles.

Oh, and I also did 4 easy on the TM at the gym in the morning.  So, 11 for the day.  That’s some real miles. 🙂

Today’s QUESTION: Do you butter? If butter were suddenly found to have negative calories and copious nutritional benefits, what would be your favorite way to eat it?

P.S. Now that you’re all back from your holiday weekend, enter my giveaway, if you haven’t yet.  Seriously, it’s my first giveaway and I need the self-esteem boost.  So just dooooo it.

P.P.S. Thanks to Ashley at Cupcakes and Combat Boots for tagging me with a sweet blog award! 🙂

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17 responses to “Better your butter

  1. I’m told by my professional natural healer friends that there is actually redeeming health qualities to butter…and especially compared to margarine or anything else with trans fats. That’s all predicated on whether you are tolerant of dairy however, which many are not (and many don’t realize it).

  2. I love your blog. I am starting to train for my first 1/2 marathon and appreciate any tips. My husband has done 3 already 🙂

    • Thanks! 🙂

      For your first half, I’d say definitely get yourself a training plan – google Hal Higdon or Runnersworld Smartcoach for a couple of popular ones. Keep your mileage increases modest – no more than 10% of weekly mileage each week – and be prepared for great runs and not so great runs (we all have them). Get good, properly fitted shoes. Hydrate. Rest when you need to. And have fun. 🙂

      Which race are you doing? I did a marathon in PHX several years ago!

  3. OMG I am a butter fanatic too! It seriously makes everything taste better! My favorite way to eat it is slathered all over a baked potato with salt & pepper. YUM!

    That sweet potato mac ‘n cheese sounds interesting! I might have to give it a shot and hope that the hubs doesn’t turn his nose up at it. 🙂

    • The sweet potato mac is definitely a bastardized version of the butternut squash mac that I linked above. Maybe try the squash one first – it doesn’t taste healthy AT ALL. My husband and I both love it.

  4. I so agree on butter. I LOVE buttah. I will never make a switch to fake stuff. Everything on moderation, right?

  5. Pingback: 98 degrees and rising | The Runner's Kitchen

  6. Yes – I sure do “butter!” I think we eat more butter than is normal, but we’re dairy farmers so I guess that’s ok:)

    This time of year, we love to make foil packets for the grill full of onion, green and/or hot peppers and other fresh veggies with some butter and herbs to taste. Depending on what meat we’re grilling up, we vary the veggies. Always fabulous.

  7. What a timely post! I’m about halfway through Nina Planck’s “Real Food” and she’s all about eating butter, grass fed meat, and raw milk/cheese. She has some very convincing arguements that suggest butter, meat, eggs, dairy, etc are actually GOOD for us (good sources of CLA’s, omega 3’s, vitamins, etc) – it’s actually the industrial food (soy products, margarine, trans fats) that are causing health problems. It’s an interesting read. Especially since I love butter 🙂

    Nice job on pounding out those intervals yesterday – we’re so hardcore!

    • Yeah, I have absolutely no scientific evidence to back this up but I feel like stuff from cows > manufactured stuff. Even though I’m sure ideally, neither one is perfect. I’ll have to check that book out!

  8. Whenever I make baked goods for other people, I use butter. It just tastes like nothing else, gives food an incomparable texture. I don’t go all Paula Deen in day to day life, so I figure my arteries can handle some pure fat once in a while.

    As for running, pacing in the heat is hard. Makes sense that loads will be blown.

  9. wow – kudos to you for braving the heat for that workout last night. My run this morning was slower than molasses 🙂

    I usually use less than the amount of butter called for when I bake, but if it had no calories or sat fat I would probably use more! I also love real butter with corn on the cob – mmm delicious.

  10. Great job Shelby. Amen on that 2nd 400. It was just crippling at that point. The pain was awful.

    Something is seriously wrong with all of us for running and running hard in that mess.

  11. Oh I most DEFINITELY butter! I’ll admit, I’m intrigued by the whole blackened butter thing, but I’m also a little scurred.

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