That’s just what Illinois has done with legislation passed in April banning trans fat in restaurants beginning in 2013. The ban, however, doesn’t cover pre-packaged foods, and this is what is rampant in the Orthodox Jewish community. Many families cook with margarine, and all the bakeries use shortening. All of the heimishe brands–even their whole wheat products–use it in their snacks and candies.

So what’s the big deal? Trans fats, often listed on ingredient labels as partially hydrogenated oils, clog arteries and lead to obesity and heart disease. No amount is good for you.

Eliminating trans fat from my family’s diet simply means reading labels. And we aren’t be fooled by the “0g Trans Fat” marketing slogan on the front of the box, because even these products contain partially hydrogenated oils (just not enough to be listed). For nearly every product with trans fat, there’s an alternative brand without it. I’ve never seen trans fat in any Trader Joe’s products, and they are often cheaper than similar products at the grocery. And as for margarine? We use oils or Earth Balance instead. Here’s my favorite kind of cookies, made with Earth Balance:

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 3.38.10 PM


1.25 cups whole-wheat flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
8T Earth Balance
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup almond butter (can substitute peanut butter)
t pure vanilla
6oz. chocolate chips (optional)

Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees.

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