Demonstrating Fat in Foods

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Karen Jircitano, RD, breaks her class into two groups for recipe modification. One group makes a Noodles Romanoff recipe the old fashioned, full-fat way, and the other group makes the lower-fat version using fat-free and lower-fat ingredients.

There is a significant difference in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol for these dishes and participants get to see that there is not much difference in the end result and that the low-fat dish is very flavorful. They all get to eat lunch together at the end of class, and Karen provides a side dish, beverage and dessert!

Jen Reardon, MS, RD, Cornell Cooperative Extension, has put together a great visual for showing the differences in the amount of fat in fast food. She and her colleagues built a board with 12 little shelves, grouped in six pairs. They found out the fat content of two meals at six different fast food restaurants, meal A and meal B, with one meal being the healthier choice. Then they took baby food jars and used one teaspoon of shortening per five grams of fat to show the equivalent of the fat in each meal. They read each meal to the group and have them guess which is the healthier choice. At they end, Jen shows them the jars of fat for the meals. People are really surprised to see how much fat they eat.

Marylou Anderson, RD, figures out the fat content of fast food meals and shows clients how the fat equates to a cube of margarine or butter. For instance, a Whopper® with cheese sandwich with the works and a medium order of French fries contains 66 grams of fat which is six tablespoons of margarine. Marylou also uses the fried chicken (53 g fat) and fish sandwiches (53 g fat) because often times, clients think they are healthier because they are not beef. She also gives them healthier choices.

Fat Board

Jennifer Reardon, MS, RD, plays a game called the Fat Board. Jenn and her colleagues went to the Web sites for fast-food restaurants in their area. They put together 2 meals from each restaurant, one being lower in fat than the other and tried to pick items that use words that denote higher-fat items, such as chicken legs or pizza supreme.

Then they figured out the fat grams and measured that amount of “fat” (using a hair product that you can buy at a drug store that looks like fat) into baby food jars and labeled the jars on the bottom for each meal at each restaurant. The jars are displayed in groups of 2 in front of a class. They printed the restaurant logo and the food items in meal A and meal B on cardstock and laminated them. What they do then is lead a discussion about fast food and healthful choices. They say the restaurant name and read meal A and meal B and ask the class to tell them which meal they think is higher in fat and why. Then they tell the class how much fat is in each meal and set the baby food jars out on the shelves with the listing of food items in each meal. It is a great discussion generator and a great visual. Kids and adults alike are disgusted by the amount of fat in food.

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