What to spread on bread

I love butter.  And I love really good bread with butter.  But I can’t eat it.  For me it’s addictive, and unfortunately comes along with a lot of unnecesary calories.  Plus butter sends my cholesterol through the roof.  I discovered that years ago, after my first routine cholesterol screening.  I’d been practically living on bread and butter. That it was homemade bread apparently didn’t protect me from the effect of all that saturated fat.  So now, sadly, I just don’t go there.

So for me and lots of other people, the question becomes: What to spread on bread?

First,  you need something spreadable.  But not just anything will do, or we’d be spreading refried beans on bread.  Actually, we spread them on tortillas, so maybe this isn’t such a big leap.  Or how about tomato paste.  Just,… yuck!  Other than butter, the likely list of spreadable choices includes:

  • Margarine (bleh!  Never in my house):  Margarine, and its evil cousins such as “lite” margarine, are all 100% fake butter imitators.  Also technically some of the new lower calorie versions are actually margarine-imitations.  Wow, a double down on fakeness.  They’re made from vegetable fat, and gummed up with various additives to mimic the texture of real butter.  Why would you eat that?
  • Nut butters: significant protein, about 75% fat, but it’s healthy fat, also with fiber and lots of minerals and vitamins.
  • Cream cheese: one step up from butter,  with a smidge of protein, but still mostly fat.  And saturated fat at that.  If you can find a cream-cheese-like spread made with Greek-style yogurt, that would be preferable.  Much more protein, and potentially no fat.
  • Avocado: slices of just-ripe avocado spread nicely on bread.  You can season with a dash of salt of other seasonings, like red pepper.  It only has 1/4 the calories of butter, but is still primarily fat.  Except it’s healthy vegetable fat, with some protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
  • Hummus: made from sesame tahini and garbanzo beans, hummus is reasonably healthy and about 1/4 the calories of butter.  It’s got a decent amount of protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber.  You can find it quite plain, or seasoned with a variety of herbs, garlic and spices.
  • Jam, Jellies and Fruit Butters: I definitely recommend low-sugar or fruit puree varieties, but not artificially sweetened.
  • Olive oil dip: this is the preferred way to eat bread along the Mediterranean coast, and it’s a great way to savor really good olive oil and get all the health benefits of those monounsaturated fats.  Season the oil with a bit of salt, pepper and herbs.  The only draw back is you can easily soak up several tablespoons of olive oil in your bread and break the calorie bank before the meal is served.
My Top 3 Picks:
  1. No spread at all.  Your bread should taste so wonderful you don’t need anything.  This saves a lot of calories.
  2. Avocado
  3. Nut butters    3a: olive oil, if you portion out the olive oil on your plate.
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