Saturday, April 4, 2009

Running and baking.

This is the way it goes sometimes: A beautiful day but no chance for an outdoor run. That was my Thursday. The weather was perfect (mid 60s) and I so wanted to get out for a run. But, Owen had a meeting and then volleyball after work so I was without someone to watch Conal. I made the most of the day and took Conal for a 2-mile walk around the neighborhood and then we played in the yard for what seemed like hours but was probably only one.

I hit the treadmill for my run after putting Conal to bed for the night. These days, I'm having trouble with the 'mill. I can manage 'mill running only if I play with my speed. So even though I didn't plan for a speedy run, that's what I did: An easy 1.5 miles, then 4 quarter miles at 6:48 pace, 2 at 7:30 pace and a half mile cool-down.

Yesterday evening, I went out for an easy 4-miler at 9:05 pace to wrap up the week.

In between runs, I turned my kitchen into a test kitchen, baking up oatmeal cookies and toasting bagels.

I received a pound of the new I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Baking and Cooking Sticks earlier this week to try out and review. Although this product has been around for a while, the spread has been recently reformulated and re-introduced. According to the web site:

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!® Cooking & Baking sticks have been reformulated to contain a blend of nutritious oils, including soybean and canola oil, so they have 50% less saturated fat than butter and provide an excellent source of omega-3 ALA per serving, while baking and tasting like butter.
Now, I'm a butter gal. I love it. Love to bake with it, love to spread it on my toast and bagels. Love it. So, a product with less saturated fat and the addition of the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid sounded good to me. You can check out the nutrition information here.

I first tried the spread on its own and it takes just like butter, which, I guess, is the point. It's creamier than butter, though. The other difference that I noticed is that it softened quicker than butter when I took it out of the fridge, and stayed softer.

My next test was to try a toasted bagel with both butter and the spread. I really couldn't tell the difference. Both tasted buttery and yummy!

The final test was to bake something with the spread. I decided to try out my favorite cookie recipe: Oatmeal cookies with pecans, chocolate chips and dried cranberries. The only change that I made to my original recipe was to use the spread instead of butter. Overall, the cookies were good: they tasted just like the original. But there were two consistency differences that I noticed. First, the cookies didn't puff up the way they normally do. Instead, they spread out on the baking sheet and were fairly flat. Second, the cookies stayed soft. Normally, I bake these cookies and they are all soft and chewy the first day, but they start to get a little harder by the second day. Not so with the cookies baked with the I Can't...spread.

Here's what the cookies looked like:


It was tough to show the flatness, so take my word for it!

OK, last thing. The spread came packed on ice in this cute little cooler:



All in all, I liked how the spread tasted and how it worked in the cookies. Will I buy it? I'm going to continue to look into the whole butter vs. soybean/canola oil spread. I'd like to read a little more about the pros and cons of each and then decide. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, what do you think? Are you a butter person or a spread person? Or do you take your toast dry? (I've heard that some people do that type of thing . . . )

I'm off to a 2-year old birthday party this afternoon. Hope you're all enjoying the weekend!

~ Felice

20 comments:

Jon (was) in Michigan said...

I like the Smart Balance Lite or the Promise Lite. They have half the saturated fat of the I Can't Believe It Ain't Butter, and they also have the unsaturated fat, which I need. I'm not sure if they are good for cooking but I don't use butter for cooking, except for chocolate. And then butter is ok, because if there's one thing that is wrong in food, its putting anything but real butter in chocolate truffles.

Jules said...

ooowww... I'm a spread girl. Last year I switched up to brummel & brown's yogurt spread and LOVE IT. This year, I'm tyring to kick anything butter and spread related when I can. We only have some crud in the fridge that hubby likes... I won't even touch it. YUCH!
I haven't done any baking yet, but last year, in my bread maker I did switch from butter to olive oil and it was fantastic. On toast, i've switched to PB instead of buttery goodness... i miss it and dryness STINKS!! but it's for my health and longevity... so a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. After all this... I'm craving some buttery goodness. DARN IT! :):):) LOL

D10 said...

Way to squeeze in running and exercise when you can. It is hard sometimes when you have a child you need to schedule your workouts around.

Thanks for the review. I have noticed that you really can't substitute butter or margarine in baking.

joyRuN said...

I love my butter, but it's a pain to spread on anything!

I'm starting to think I need a 'mill at home to be able to squeeze runs in...

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

I am totally a butter person.

But on bagels I like peanut butter!!

sarah said...

when i bake i definitely use butter. i'm not into fake 'substitutes' in general. sugar, butter, cream -- allllll in moderation of course :)

merathon said...

we're smart balance peeps at our house. we use the regular smart balance for baking and the light version for spreading on toast, pancakes, etc.

Abby said...

I have to say, I'm an anti-butter gal. I can't stand the smell, the taste, the texture. It's not a health thing; it just makes me kind of nauseous.

On toast, I go with preserves. In baking, I often go with applesauce, but sometimes I'll suck it up and deal with the butter for texture's sake. I just try to hold my nose.

Marci said...

Those cookies look yummy! Thanks for the review!

Denise said...

Great review!! I didn't know they had changed things. Thanks!

RunToFinish said...

I've used it before as a spread, because D loves it on sandwiches... never tried to bake with it though. I like it, but am not surprised if it runs a little more

Bridget said...

Definitely butter! Love it love it love it!

Oz Runner said...

mostly spread, country crock light, but butter for some things for sure....those cookies look pretty good

I Run for Fun said...

I used to be a big spread person, until I read that the body can break down a small quantity of natural butter better than processed spreads. The debate continues and I cannot make up my mind. I now have very little of either.

Diana said...

Margerine. Use fleichmen's, which has olive oil. It's alright, but I don't bake. That's the hubby's department, but when we do stuff like that (like how I included me into that one :) we use the real butter stuff.

Roisin said...

I'm all about butter. Kerry Gold to be exact, when I can get it. Margarine is a little gross. I'm sure that's mostly due to me thinking about all of the chemicals in it. I'd rather have the fat from butter than things I can't pronounce from marg.

Marlene said...

I've never really considered it for baking, but maybe I'll give it a shot. Thanks for the great review!

Anonymous said...

I usually use butter but the omega-3 is intriguing and I may have to check it out.

SeeGirlRun said...

i love I can't believe it's not butter BUT for cookies? Have to use butter flavored criso. Then never spread too much with that stuff...

Alisa said...

I use "I can't believe it's not butter light" all the time. However, I completely agree with some of the other commentors...for cookies...I go with the real deal =).

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