Regina's Vegetarian Table
is an exciting and fresh new look at cooking healthy, fast & fresh cuisine.  Your host Regina Campbell takes you on a global tour of unimagined variety and flavours.   Join Us!

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Healthy Fats Cooking

On May 28, 2005, news came from the White House that Americans needed to cut the bad fats (trans fatty acids) from their diet and add more of the good fats (essential fatty acids). What suprised me was that this urging came from the Office of Budget Management!

I thought about this for a minute, and what occurred to me was that a couple of guys were crunching numbers when a light went on in their heads. "Hey, the boomers are way too fat and starting to show some wear. Jeez, George, I don’t think we have enough money here to take care of them!?" Anyway, that’s how I imagined this information finally made it to the press.

The truth is the list of diseases attributable to bad diet and lack of proper nutrients is way too long to list. The truth also is that obesity is at its highest levels in history, including among our children. In fact, I was recently a guest speaker at the Los Angeles Times Health and Fitness Expo and I was shocked to look at the list of speakers and diseases they each represented and to realize how many were directly, or in part, related to bad fats or lack of good fats in the diet. The diseases ranged from macular degeneration to colorectal cancer to depression and memory loss.

Coincidentally, two days after that White House announcement, my new book Regina’s International Vegetarian Favorites was released by HP Books. This was serendipitous timing because, this book, along with my previous book Regina’s Vegetarian Table, are the only cookbooks on the market that explain to the home cook how to avoid turning good oils such as olive oil into a potentially carcinogenic toxin. It’s all in the method of cooking – a simple shift in thinking.

Let’s start with a brief primer. The cooking oils you see on the grocery store shelves that are clear in color, odorless, tasteless and denuded of nutritional value, are basically worthless where health is concerned. The processing they are exposed to in creating the finished product, which is designed for shelf life, not flavor or health, is extremely harsh and often leaves toxic residues, including trans fatty acids.

You’ve probably already heard of the problem with trans fats in the diet. They are processed fats that the body cannot properly utilize and, thus, become a mutated substance that interferes with the function of good fats and other essential nutrients. This is what the concern over fried foods and fast foods is about. Once food is heated in oil at high temperatures, both the oil and the food have been degraded and have lost much of their healthful, life sustaining properties. According to Dr. Udo Erasmus, author of Fats That Heal Fats That Kill, once cooking oil is heated above 320 degrees F trans fats begin to occur. Supermarket oils are heated above 450 degrees as part of the processing, to say nothing of being exposed to harsh solvents in the refining, de-gumming, bleaching and deodorizing process. I would suggest we begin by taking them out of the cupboard. But what do we do from there?

First, buy quality oils that actually add to your health profile rather than rob you of health. In the supermarket your best bet would be extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil has Omega 9 as well as vitamin E and many other nourishing components. There are many other wonderful oils available as well, such as fresh almond, sesame, sunflower, walnut and hemp oils, but many of them require going online or to a health food store to buy them. They’re well worth the investment, however.

Once your begin making your, let’s say, stir fry, you cook your vegetables in a little water or broth until they reach the texture you prefer. At the end of the cooking process, once the heat is turned off, you can drizzle in your oil as a flavor enhancer. It’s that simple and the surprise of it is that your dishes end up tasting much fresher and more flavorful because the food is not being burned by overheating the oils. It’s a win-win situation! If you like, you can even add the oil while the dish is cooking because as long as there is some liquid in the pan the oil cannot exceed the temperature of the water, which boils at 212 degrees F., which is well below the 320 degree point that alters the fats. By the way, 320 degrees is reached over a medium low flame. Sautéing at the usual medium-hi level definitely burns the oils, which virtually always alters the chemical balance of the oil.

The other way in which we consume the bad fats is in processed and prepared foods. Most cookies, cakes, chips and crackers on the supermarket shelves contain either hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or over heated fats and oils. These should be consumed very sparingly, like when you absolutely have to indulge a craving for chips because you’re having a bad, bad day. Otherwise, real food is all its splendor, with its life giving properties, color and flavor is the way to go.

Finally, we need to include essential fatty acids in our diets. They are called essential because we need them for just about every function in our glands, organs, skin, muscles and brain. These are known as Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. They can be taken through cold water fatty fish, such as salmon, flax seed oil, sunflower seed oil and other foods. They can also be taken as a supplement in capsule or oil form. I prefer to take it in oil form, my favorite being Udo’s Oil Blend. I choose this one because Dr. Erasmus took the trouble to create an oil blend that caters to the body’s need for a proper balance between Omega 3 and 6. I use it in smoothies, soups, salads, pastas, etc. To make it easier on those of you with a sensitive palate, I have included my favorite fresh pesto recipe to use in any way you wish. I use it over omelets, in vegetable soups to turn it into instant minestrone, and over pasta.

While the urgent message to become fat savvy may be new to the White House, I have been sharing my Healthy fats Cooking Method with my viewers and cookbook readers for 7 years. Almost every recipe in my books, is based on this concept so that we, as cooks and consumers, can begin to take back control of the quality of the fats in our diets.

Enjoy and remember that we need to educate ourselves and take responsibility for our own bodies because nobody, and I mean nobody, including the family doctor, is going to do it for us.

Omega Pesto Sauce

1/4 cup Udo’s Oil or other flax seed oil
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh parsley
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions: Blend until smooth and pour over, or spoon into, your favorite vegetable soup, egg dish or pasta dish. Bon Apetit!

For more detailed information regarding dietary fats refer to the site at

Your Host
Regina Campbell

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For almost two decades, Udo Erasmus has dedicated his time to understanding the effects of fats and oils on human health, as well as the nature of health itself.

For info on guest appearances, vegetarian cooking or other information about RVT, please email Regina from Regina's Desk



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