A Guide on Fats, the Good, the Bad, and the Super Ugly

A Guide on Fats, the Good, the Bad, and the Super Ugly

A Guide on Fats, the Good, the Bad, and the Super Ugly. Click here to read more on which fats are actually healthy and which fats are causing dies and obesity.

Here’s the skinny on fats, the good the bad and the super ugly. Adding traditional fats into our diet has been a big game changer for us Revivalist Girls: more energy, less hunger and better fitting clothes. It’s also the last “F” in our amazing BFF diet, read all about that here.

So often we begin to talk about fats and are met with a “oh, I know fat is good, but the good fats”. Sadly the fats that get labeled the “good” fats are often the big bads we call creepy oils: industrially produced polyunsaturated vegetable oils. These oils are creepy because they masquerade under the label of heart healthy, while being incredibly damaging to our body when consumed on a regular basis.

A big part of reducing the toxins in your diet is clearing out the fats that throw our bodies balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids out of whack, leading to increased inflammation in the body. Healthy fats nourish our body and are an essential part of our diet, but it is important to choose your fat wisely. Below is a breakdown of the fats and oils we allow in Revivalist Kitchen and which fats and oils we have kicked firmly to the curb.

Great for Cooking

These are the good guys that have been punished for crimes they did not commit. Health boosting saturated fats are great for cooking and add tons of flavor to our food. The quality here matters: lard from a bucket at the supermarket is often highly refined, while pasture raised rendered lard is minimally processed and comes from healthy animals. All animal fats are from animals fed their natural diets and raised in a humane environment. Coconut oils are organic and while safe for frying, coconut oil has a lower smoke point then animal fats such as tallow and lard, and should not be over heated.

Unrefined Coconut Oil

Lard from Pasture Raised Animals

Ghee from pasture raised animals

Duck fat, schmaltz/chicken fat, goose fat 

Great Healthy Fats that should not be heated to very high temperatures 

Butter made from pasture raised animals

Organic Olive Oil

Avocado Oil

Macadamia nut oil

Healthy Oils that should not be heated

Walnut, Pecan & Pistachio Oil

Flaxseed oil (very high in omega-3 but use sparingly, 1/2 tsp. daily, in salad dressings, shakes and spreads)

These Fats are Just Ok

These oils masquerade as healthy oils but without enough omega-3 these oils can cause inflammation in the body. Compared to genetically modified pesticide laden canola oil, these oils are really not great, but not horrible. However they are all very high in omega-6 fatty acids and should be avoided when possible, especially when an alternative is available. 

Palm (this is a healthy oil with some major problems with sustainable production. Buy this oil with caution to the source)

Safflower Oil

Sunflower Seed Oil 

Sesame Seed Oil

Grapeseed oil 

Organic Peanut Oil 

The Bad 

These oils are not good for human consumption in any amount. WARNING: these oils lurk in everything from commercial salad dressings, to the fryer at your favorite restaurant, to baked goods, snack foods, prepared foods and beyond. Practice reading your and avoid products that contain these environmentally damaging, heart hurting, inflammation inducing. creepy industrial oils. 




Vegetable Oil Blends

Olive/Vegetable Oil Blends

Really Bad & the Ugly

Imagine taking something already horrible and then going out of your way to make it way worse. Trans-fat is the jewel in heart disease’s crown. Trans-fats are not food, these are highly processed bad oils that were already unsafe for human consumption that have been converted from liquid oil to a solid fat (replicating a naturally saturated fat in consistency). This is a cheap, replacement fat used to boost profits for unscrupulous companies taking advantage of the misinformation regarding fat consumption that has been allowed to flourish by our government. Beware products claiming zero grams of trans fat per serving, as our blessed FDA has allowed that to be printed on products that contain up to one half gram of hydrogenated oil/trans-fat. Eat two servings and boom, you got a gram of poison straight to the ticker.

Hydrogenated Oil

Non-organic soy, corn, canola 


Hydrogenated Vegetable Shortening

Spray oils like Pam that contain chemical propellants


We hope this guide will help you make better choices for you and your loved ones when it comes to choosing the right kind of fats for your plate. Have any questions for us? Leave a comment below! We love hearing from our readers!

 © Copyright 2016 Revivalist Kitchen. All rights reserved.

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Duck Confit

Duck Confit

Octavia Klein Photography

Eating duck for the first time was not the most memorable experience of my culinary life, while eating duck confit for the first time will forever be seared into my brain. It was, Walter Manske’s, duck confit at Church & State that did me in. I was a server there and had the good fortune of being handed the remnants of a crispy golden duck leg by another server, to wolf down as we stood near the dish tank, hovering over the garbage cans. Holy cow, that duck was good.


Next time I had duck confit, I actually ate it off a plate and the crispy outside and meltingly tender inside was accompanied by a chutney like fruit sauce. It took a good duck confit for me to get duck. Never being blown away with duck breast, I have had duck dishes other than confit that I enjoyed: chef Ericka Lins formerly of Campanile, makes a wicked duck meatball, the duck pancakes at Chi Dynasty in Los Feliz are tasty other than that I don’t really go out of my way to make, buy or order duck. The exception is duck confit for me, and the duck confit recipe from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers has become my most beloved holiday meal.


Including this Thanksgiving I have made the entire traditional holiday meal for one of the wonderful families I have cooked for, five years running. That is a lot of turkey and I think I’m just kinda over serving turkey as a festive holiday feast for my family meals, so I have decided to bring on the duck confit! Don’t get me wrong, I like turkey and one of my favorite guilty pleasures, other than bean burritos on a soft flour tortilla, is a post Thanksgiving turkey sandwich: white meat, white bread, mayo, salt & pepper. This year Revivalist Kitchen hosted a Harvest Dinner, non-traditional take on Thanksgiving! Read all about what we served up up here.


I cook turkey on a regular basis for many clients and while my husband and I will eat turkey, rarely do I go out of my way to cook or eat it (collard green turkey enchiladas being a firm exception). The bonus here is the duck confit can be mostly prepared well ahead of time and only needs to be finished by warming & crisping up in a pan. The leftovers can be kept refrigerated submerged in cooking fat for long periods of time and that fat is a wonderful medium to roast & sauté other meats and vegetables. Leftover duck confit is a delicious Real Food answer to my appallingly pale colored turkey sandwiches of the past but I suspect this recipe is so good; there won’t be too many leftovers to speak of.


One of the best lunches of my life was with my then finance now husband Andrew at Zuni Cafe on a rainy San Francisco afternoon. We ate roast chicken and drank Burgundy and it was soul satisfyingly good eats. I have never had duck confit at Zuni Cafe but the recipe in Judy Rodgers life changing cook book is about as perfect as a recipe can get. This book was suggested to me as I was being rung up at a used bookstore in Hollywood by now obviously brilliant guy working the register. He saw my hodgepodge of books: a paperback filled with traditional Greek recipes, a banged up copy of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, and something by Alice Waters. The clerk at the bookstore grabbed the copy of the Zuni Cafe Cookbook that just happened to be within his arms reach and he said that I just had to get it. He sold me on the book long before I had heard of the legendary Zuni Cafe or the now departed Judy Rodgers, who sadly passed away from cancer in 2013.


Buying that book both simplified and elevated my cooking in a major way and I am very grateful to that dude for being a really great bookstore employee. I am also grateful to Judy Rodgers for writing her book, as I love what she shares, how she talks about her process of recipe development and how she tells her story. The best advice on properly seasoning and salting protein I have ever read came from that book and I was shocked to learn how much of a difference proper salting techniques can make in all dishes, not just confits and cures. So with deep respect to Judy Rodgers, here is her perfect recipe for duck confit. Her instructions are wonderful and I have paraphrased them here. I highly suggest you go out and buy or borrow a copy of this wonderful book and look at the full Zuni recipe for duck confit, as well as enjoy all the other cool ideas.


Duck Confit a la Judy for a party of 8

12 duck legs, approx ¾-1lb each preferably from McCall’s Meat & Fish if you live in SoCal

2 large 3.5lb buckets of duck fat

9T of salt: I used a combination of maldon flake and fine sea salt


This recipe clearly makes duck for a crowd: it can be scaled back following a ratio of 2tsp of salt per pound of duck legs and around 2 cups of fat per pound of meat. Duck fat is expensive so I try to buy the minimum amount I need just to cover all the duck legs.


Start this recipe at least two days before you want to serve it, but three is even better. Weigh duck legs and measure out salt. Trim any lose bits from the duck and pull out any feathers that may remain in the skin. Sprinkle the salt over the duck legs and massage in. Lay duck in one even layer and cover with plastic wrap (not foil as the salt can corrode aluminum, even in 24 hours.)

After 24 hours rinse salt off duck legs and gently massage the legs. Cut a slice of meat off the duck and fry it up in a little oil to test for salt. It should be salty but not crazy, crazy, salty. If it’s super gross salty rinse the duck legs again and repeat the test. Allow the meat to rest for another 24 hours to redistribute the salt.

To cook the duck, melt the fat in two large dutch ovens or sauce pans, add the duck legs and bring up to a simmer. I used my thermometer and tried to keep the heat around 200 degrees F, for an hour and a half. I was able to do that by having the burners on their lowest setting with the pots pushed all the way against the back of my stove versus directly over the center of the burner. The cooking is pretty much hands off, I stick my tongs to the bottom of the pot a few times to make sure nothing was stuck and potentially scorching and I push down a few stray legs that wanted to pop up out of the fat but otherwise I let the fat gently simmer and cook the meat until it was soft but not fall off the bone tender. You can also do the cooking in a crockpot, on the lowest setting for six hours, pull out early if meat starts to fall off the bone. Turn off the burners or crockpot and allow the meat to cool in the fat, then store in the fridge until ready to serve.

One hour before cooking the duck legs remove them from the fridge and let them get to room temperature. It works best to brown the duck in a medium not giant frying pan, around two to three at a time. Just make sure it’s one even layer and they don’t crowd each other. Pre-heat the oven to 220 to keep the duck warm as you finish the batches and turn the frying pan or pans up to medium high heat. Once the pan is heated pull your duck out of the fat and place directly into the hot pan, skin side down and allow to cook around 5-8 minutes. VERY CAREFULLY, using tongs and a spatula try to ease the duck up without damaging the skin and flip it over and cook an additional 4-5 minutes. If the duck skin resists, allow it to cook longer. Be very careful, the duck fat is hot grease it will spit and spatter a lot during cooking. The duck skin should be a burnished golden color with a crispy crust. Finish browning the rest of the duck and keep crisp duck warm in the oven until serving.

Leftover duck confit can be shredded and mixed with cooking fat and spices for a beautiful rillette, shredded as a wonderful addition to tacos or salads.

© Copyright 2015 Revivalist Kitchen. All rights reserved.

How did the recipe turn out? Got any questions? Leave a comment below!

Octavia Klein Photography

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