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Jump aboard the fat train in Dish 2014

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Fat is fabulous. We invited local chefs to submit fat-centric recipes for this, our ninth annual Dish guide, in the spirit of celebrating that heartiest of food elements. Not so long ago vilified and still widely misunderstood, dietary fat is enjoying an exoneration of sorts, with science in support.

A Sept. 1 New York Times article begins, "People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows."

Without any change in physical activity over a year's period, a low-carb trial group in that study "had significantly greater reductions in body fat" than a low-fat group, also improving lean muscle mass.

In the book Primal Body — Primal Mind, author Nora Gedgaudas argues that our bodies' primary source of fuel is designed to be fat (in the form of ketones, fat's energy unit), not glucose from carbohydrates. Our brains, she points out, are composed of more than 50 percent fat and store the body's highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to its electrical functioning and intercellular communication. Though carbohydrate stores in the liver are handy for emergency needs, choosing dietary glucose as a primary fuel source leads to many damaging and "unnatural" effects in the body, she says.

It's for reasons like these that Paleo-style diets are gaining popularity, and why we even have a participating outfit named Progressive Paleo this year; you'll read in its chef's note about the goal of directing eaters away from processed foods and toward sustainably handled, high-quality proteins (and fats).

Even veg-heads can get aboard the fat train with avocados, nuts and healthy oils, which you'll see used in other recipes here. You'll also notice how some chefs interpreted our call for fat more toward the decadent side of eating — hey, there's always a place for eggs and butter in our hearts, too.

Eat well and be well. May the fat be with you.

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