If a recipe calls for butter and you cannot tolerate any dairy, then lard is a good substitute. Lard is an animal fat that is high in saturated fat. Because of their saturated fat content, lard and natural sources of saturated fat (like butter and coconut oil) were shunned from our menus. For years official guidelines told us to swap out animal fats for vegetable oils to stay healthy (blech!); however, a major 2010 paper pooled the available research and found “no significant evidence” for the saturated fat/heart disease connection we’ve been taught for decades as gospel. As a result, saturated fat has been making a major comeback, with fatty cuts of meat and saturated cooking fats no longer being feared. Lard makes an amazing cooking fat for this very reason: the saturated fat in it stabilizes it even when exposed to high heat, so it’s one of the best options for high-to-medium-high heat cooking.
Despite its reputation, lard from responsibly-raised, pastured pigs is actually chock-full of nutrition! Perhaps most notably, lard is known to have 500-1000 IU of vitamin D per serving, depending on what the pigs ate and how much sunlight they were exposed to. This makes it one of the very best sources of vitamin D anywhere. Woot!
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