Ladies and Gentlemen, A Healthy Biscuit

For years now I have been looking to make a biscuit that is both healthy and tasty.  It’s easy enough to use whole wheat, rye or organic flour but that doesn’t address the primary health concerns with biscuits, fat.  Sure you can eliminate fat and cholesterol by replacing the bacon grease, lard or butter with vegetable shortening and/or margarine but that actually makes the biscuits worse for you.

Both vegetable shortening and margarine are nearly 100% trans fat as they employee hydrogenated oils.  Why the USDA doesn’t require a big fat label on the side that says, “DANGER: THIS CRAP WILL KILL YOU,” is beyond me.  Wait, no it isn’t.  Because the people who make these items also run the USDA (see Tom Vilsack).  In fact, the USDA doesn’t require the makers of shortening to list it as a trans fat, which it is.  It is nothing but trans fat.  A 16 ounce can of shortening contains 16 ounces of trans fat.  You are actually better off making your biscuits with pork lard, literally, than with shortening.  Trans fats are pure poison.

There’s the conundrum, for the biscuits to have the proper texture they must be made with saturated fat.  The candidates are beef tallow, pork lard, bacon fat, butter, shortening or margarine.  You can try substituting with canola oil or even extra virgin olive oil but what results will closely resemble a cookie not a biscuit.  They will be thin and crunchy, impossible to slice in half and almost inedible.

Enter coconut oil.  Available in both regular and extra virgin, coconut oil is a saturated fat that is actually good for you.  In fact, really, really good for you.  It’s good for your skin, helps lower bad cholesterol and even reduces your risk of heart disease.  It’s even better for you than it’s sister, coconut water.  You read that correctly it reduces your risk of heart disease.  The flavor is fairly neutral with subtle notes of real butter.  It can be expensive.  You can order a quart online for around $15 but I recently found a quart for under $5 at the local Walmart (on the baking aisle).  At that price it is quite doable for everyday needs.  For more on the health benefits of coconut oil go HERE.

So armed with my coconut oil, organic all purpose flour and some organic low fat buttermilk I set out to make the world’s first healthy biscuit that also tastes good.  If this doesn’t get me on Food Network I don’t know what will:

That certainly looks like a proper Southern Biscuit doesn’t it?  The texture was perfect.  The taste, too, was exactly what you look for in a biscuit.  In fact, I could serve you a plate of these biscuits without mentioning they were healthy and you would never no the difference.  This recipe can be made even healthier by using whole wheat or rye flour; you might could substitute plain low fat yogurt for the buttermilk and lean it out even more.  I’m satisfied with what I have come up with here.

The recipe yielded about eight biscuits one and a half inches thick and two inches in diameter (give or take a quarter inch), roughly the size of a Pillsbury Grand.  Each biscuit contained 128 calories, 2 grams of fat (1.6 saturated but from coconut oil, 0 trans fats), 1.2 mg cholesterol, 24 g carbs but just 1.5 of sugar and 4 grams of protein.  For the complete nutritional information click HERE.  A Pillsbury Frozen Buttermilk Grand has 190 calories and 9 grams of fat (2.5 sat fats from butter and 2.5 trans fat from shortening).  Sodium, protein and carbs are very similar.  Here’s my recipe:

Healthy Southern Biscuits
2 cups organic flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
OR 2 cups organic self rising flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup organic low fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda (or self rising if using) and salt.  Use a whisk to combine and ariate. Use a fork to cut coconut oil into dry ingredients until mealy. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture then pour in buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together; it should be sticky.  Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 4 to 6 times. Pat or roll into a 1-inch thick mass. Cut biscuits with a 2-inch cutter. Place on baking sheet barely touching one another. Repeat with scrap dough until none remains.  Bake until biscuits are tall and golden on top, 12 to 15 minutes.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less
Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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