Do you know your good fat from your bad?

In a groundbreaking move earlier this month, US food safety officials initiated steps to ban the use of trans fats, saying they are a threat to health.

Olive Oil

Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, are no longer “generally recognised as safe”, says the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The regulator claims that a ban could prevent 7 000 deaths and 20 000 heart attacks in the US each year.

Industrially produced trans fats – created when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, making it a solid – are used in processed foods and in restaurants as a way to improve the shelf life or flavour. Foods commonly containing trans fat include some processed baked goods such as cakes, biscuits and pies, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza and other refrigerated dough products, some fast foods, margarine and other spreads and coffee creamer.

Not all fats are created equal

That said, not all fat is bad. Nearly every nutrition expert agrees that a moderate amount of fat consumption plays an important role in maintaining a healthy diet. It provides our bodies with energy, is essential for growth and development, and is necessary for the absorption of vitamins.

A balanced diet should contain more unsaturated fat than saturated fat (the latter is found frequently in foods like butter, lard, chocolate, cakes, pastries and meat products, including sausages and pies). Most people eat too much saturated fat: around 20% more than the recommended maximum. A diet high in saturated fat can increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (otherwise known as bad cholesterol) in blood over time, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Take heart

Due to its high concentration of monounsaturated fat — the primary fat source – olive oil can actually help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. This ‘good’ fat is, in fact, a nutrient with important functions. Among them:

  • It’s a rich source of energy. Did you know that fats produce more than double the energy acquired from carbohydrates or proteins?
  • It’s a carrier for vitamins A, D, E and K
  • It provides linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, essential polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • It contributes flavour and a sense of “fullness” when part of an eating healthy diet.

Aside from being naturally free of cholesterol and trans fat, olive oil is also free of salt, sugar, and gluten. This, coupled with the fact that it’s rich in monounsaturated fat (that’s the good kind), is the reason doctors tout the health benefits of olive oil: it helps protect against heart disease, aids in digestion and has been known to promote healthy ageing.

Simply put, olive oil is one of the best ways to substitute the bad fat in your diet with the good fat. So why not buy a bottle right now?

All aboard

PICT0010JackyBird Enterprises was incredibly proud to sponsor the annual outing enjoyed by the children of Jo’s School in Vrygrond, which this year took the little ones aboard both train and bus to see Simonstown’s famous colony of penguins. Quite beside themselves with the excitement, the 47 children hopped on board the train in Muizenburg – a first for the vast majority of them – and then choo-choo-ed their way to the Simonstown station, perched on knees and peering out the windows to see for themselves the striking False Bay coastline.

PICT0019 PICT0026PICT0034 PICT0097

PICT0115Upon their arrival in Simonstown, the children were shepherded aboard a bus to be taken to Seaforth beach, where they munched on orange and apple slices, followed by hotdogs and ice creams.PICT0132 Pic1 PICT0123

PICT0107Then they strode the Boulders boardwalk, shrieking gleefully each time they spotted one of the area’s resident Jackass Penguins in the dappled shade of the beach scrub. While they’ve learned much in class about them, none of the children had yet seen a real-life version of these peculiar birds dozing in the sun or waddling about in their starched dinner coats. What a joy it was to witness the awe and delight with which each and every child experienced the moment.PICT0137   PICT0134

PICT0146Sun-kissed, sticky and still full of smiles, it was back on the bus for the return journey to school…PICT0154

Conceived by Yvonne Brown as a living tribute to her late daughter Joanne, the charitable preschool situated in the heart of Vrygrond township in Cape Town is close to the hearts of all of us here at JackyBird Farms. By supporting the school with donations of food and sponsoring events such as this one, we feel that, in some small way, we are able to contribute to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for these 50 Aids-affected and vulnerable 3- to 6-year-olds, helping to give them that crucial first step onto the ladder of life.

Slice of Niiiiiice…

This morning, Maria got busy in the kitchen teaching Ma how to bake gewone plaas brood. Surely there is no fragrance more delicious than that of baking bread? Eaten still warm with a generous layer of fresh butter and a cup of tea and… oh mama, life is good!

Here’s Maria’s recipe – it’s simple enough but time and patience is needed. The results are worth the wait, trust me on this!

Maria and Yvonne baking bread

Maria and Yvonne baking bread

Farm loaf

• 2 x 8g packets active dry yeast
• 2 cups warm water
• 6½ cups white, brown and nutty wheat flours mixed together
• 1t salt
• ⅓ cup butter, chilled and diced

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of the flour and the salt. Cut in the butter and stir in the yeast mixture. Beat in the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
3. Butter a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a large baking tray. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a large oval loaf. Place onto the prepared tray. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. When the loaf is risen, cut a 1cm-deep cross onto the top of it. Brush the top with water and bake for 25 minutes. Reduce the heat to 170°C and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the base of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool before slicing.
Makes 1 large loaf

A Class Act

Christian and his date, Madré

Christian and his date, Madré

There was great excitement this weekend as Christian ‘Shaen’ Pieterse, the first child born on the farm to reach matric, celebrated his matric-dance party. The son of Pakkies, our dependable foreman, and Pen, a dab hand in the vineyards and orchards, Christian celebrated his final-year send-off in great style, first at home in a fine preparatory event hosted by his parents, and later, in town, with his glowing date, Madré, on his arm.

Looking decidedly debonair in his turquoise jacket and bow tie, Christian was joined by his Dad in suiting up for the milestone event. Farmer Brown’s photographic services were requested at the Pieterse’s home, where a splendid pre-celebration spread had been laid on for the occasion. The couple of the moment were then transported into Montagu by way of a shiny black 4×4, hired by Christian’s parents especially for the evening.

The enormity of the event – evident not only from the excitement it generated but also the huge amount of effort and money that had gone into it on Pakkies and Pen’s part – really brought home to me how valued education is in this rural community. Parents such as these sacrifice much in order to help their kids attain higher education levels (higher than, by definition, they were themselves able to attain) and, when their hard work finally bears fruit, the moment is cause for huge celebration.

How true Nelson Mandela’s words: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’

Christian with proud parents, Pakkies and Pen

Christian with proud parents, Pakkies and Pen

Christian and dad, Pakkies

Christian and Dad, Pakkies