The Whole Fat


Butter and coconut oil are becoming the new sugar.

The pendulum swings from one extreme of processed food to another, to other sets of elements that are extracted from whole foods; they’re concentrated, and rendered unrecognizable to the body in terms of evolution where human biomes dealt with foods in whole forms.

Am I undercutting the “paleo” narrative on its own terms: hoisting it by its own petard? You get to judge.

There’s of course nothing more bad or wrong about pan frying with a bit of butter or coconut oil than there is a teaspoon, maybe two, of sugar in your coffee or tea. And there is something to the “everything in moderation” meme, but it’s not every thing.

Shouldn’t it rather be: decent processed foods in moderation, true whole foods ad libitum?

You’d have your processed meat & fats—artisan cured meats, sausages, salami, bologna and down the line; true whole grain fair, and on and on, in moderation…along with sugary stuff, like the artisan cane-sugar soda pop I have now & then, or a nice French pastry, etc.

Not Hot Pockets or Pop Tards. And no vegan junk food.

There’s an interesting juxtaposition of paradigm in observing vegans and very low carbohydrate diet advocates. I find them indistinguishable on principles; but in practice, they’re 180 out from one-another. Both are predominated by hobgoblins, many of them imaginary—relying on the bad, in order to toss out babies with bathwater. The unanointed but available, but taboo food gets tossed into the bin of guilt by association, without a trial—where meaningless distinctions get aired, so: guilt and conviction . Low carb and vegan, in many ways, are lynch mobs failing to make distinctions. It’s like being guilty by skin color.

It would be interesting to have a “Whole Fats” movement.

How about zero fear of any whole-food fat, plant or animal; but the rule is, you can only cook the meal with the fat in the food that’s in the meal and on the plate? Now how about that? Soups and braises typically incorporate that. No wonder that they’re so close to peasant food in spirit and practice, where there was no extra fat to dollop or tablespoon. The whole foods just went in the pot: meat, fat, and root veggies and all.


Here’s an example from my breakfast yesterday at noon. The taters are leftovers from “rack fries,” where you put them on the bare oven rack, no oil. They’re really great, and the leftovers you just slice up. The two slices of quality Black Forest bacon (a half-slice escaped whilst cooking the potatoes)  were quite lean and rendered maybe a tsp of fat, and that was used to reheat the potatoes in like 2 minutes on high, covered. The egg needed no fat, as there was still a film on the same pan and it’s one of those new non-stick.


I did a Facebook post about it, and yes, Tim gave credit to the vegans from when it came, so if you must….

This is a decent hack to the potato hack for those of us who get bored. And I think it can be pure, too. Here’s the deal. You slice up a bunch of potatoes into what Americans call “steak fries.” Then, you do not preheat your oven.

That’s right. What you do is season them, or not, but in any case place them bare ass on the oven rack, then turn the oven onto 450 and take them out 30 minutes later. Let me be explicit: no tossing in oil and putting them on a cookie sheet. I must confess, this is brilliant and it must be only random chance that a shrivel-brain vegan actually came up with this between appointments to his or her therapist.


Russets tossed in salt and yellow curry powder


Russets tossed in salt and onion, garlic, and paprika powders

Of course, one can use sauces, but today, I did about 1 1/2 pounds, half and half with russets and golds, but only a toss of salt and pepper, and I ate them with no sauce. Well, I ate almost half. First food of the day, early afternoon, and I was stuffed after half the deal.

Incidentally, out of the oven, they were just over a pound, so they essentially lose 1/3 weight in the cooking process.

Alright, I want to hear of people doing rather complex meals, but doing it by the rule of no fear of fat, but that what’s in the cooking and ends up on the plate is the only fat you get to use.

Have some fun. Be creative.


  1. Stephen on April 13, 2016 at 15:38

    Do you still notice benefit from the ps powder? I eat a mixed diet that includes about 2lbs of potatoes most days along with 3-5 tbs of bob’s ps. I get very satiated but I get a little intestinal bloat on some days. The bowels seem a bit sluggish. Have you had any similar experiences? I’ve been able to maintain a consistent deficit. My bw has gone from 220 to 185 since November. I was thinking that too much soluble fiber backs things up a bit

    • Richard Nikoley on April 14, 2016 at 07:17

      I don’t use supplemental RS anymore, since I eat so much potato, much of it cooled and reheated. Plus other veggies, apples & bananas, some whole grains, oats. I think my gut gets plenty of food from regular food.

  2. Wilbur on April 13, 2016 at 16:06

    I’ve made this many times.

    Pork butt fried in its own rendered fat. It’s amazing. 3 added ingredients: water, orange juice, and salt.

    • Amy on April 14, 2016 at 09:39

      Wilbur, you come up with the best stuff. :-) I’m going to try this this weekend. Let y’all know how it goes.

    • Wilbur on April 14, 2016 at 14:41

      I love to eat, that’s why! Be prepared for the fantastic smells as it cooks.

  3. Corey on April 13, 2016 at 16:46

    Richard, when making those rack fries, do you rinse the potatoes first? If not, how do you prevent them from sticking to the racks from the starch?

    • Richard Nikoley on April 14, 2016 at 07:21

      Nope, cut them and place them on a dry rack. Zero stick. Now, the trick to that might be that you put them in a cold, not preheated oven, then turn it to 450, pull them out 30 minutes later.

  4. Hegemon on April 13, 2016 at 18:50

    For my Shepherds Pie, I cook 1 lb of ground lamb first, and then drain and set aside. I use just enough of the drippings to coat the bottom of the pan. One chopped onion and 3 cups of veggies go in with spices and soften. Meat and veggies then go in the bottom of a baking dish. Meanwhile a few pounds of yucca root (can’t do potatoes) boil in a pot, and when draining I reserve the water and put some back in when whipping them (no butter needed). Spread the mash on top, bake, and enjoy an amazingly good dish.

    It’s a dish where meat is there for flavor, and the bulk is veggies. The above nets us enough for 2+ meals for a family of four.

  5. thhq on April 13, 2016 at 20:11

    Friday I’m using a barrel smoker to roast a batch of sausages, ribs and pork shoulder I’ve collected in the freezer for the last 4 months. 2 hours at abour 350F, plus or minus 100F. This is about as good as the temperature control gets burning chunks of apple and hazelnut wood. The cooked meat is so intensely smoky that it needs very little seasoning. Almost all of the fat is gone, incinerated in the fire, leaving meat which is fairly dry but tender.

  6. Steven on April 14, 2016 at 02:36

    Chicken soup. The best recipe ever. I’ve been doing it like this for years except the rice part when I was a paleotard.

    1 whole chicken cut up. Peel the skin off of the breasts and thighs and set aside. Boil chicken parts for 2 hours.

    When done boiling pull chicken out and let cool. At this point toss in a cup of wild rice in to broth and simmer. This is important to make sure rice has time to cook. About 45-55 min.

    Pull apart chicken. Get all the cartilage as well. Dice up everything and make the cartilage very fine and toss in to pot.

    Place skins in to pan medium-low heat. Render out all the fat. Pull out crispy skins and set aside. In to the fat add onions, carrots and celery. Salt and pepper. Cook until onions go clear then add a bunch of garlic. Cook down. Add to pot. Add frozen peas and corn.

    Dice up crispy skins until very fine. Set aside half and toss half in to pot

    When soup is done, about 10 min of cooking here, garnish with parsley and some of the crispy skins.


  7. king of the one eyed people on April 14, 2016 at 04:42

    I love the peasant aspect of all this. My weekly food bill is less now than it was 25 years ago! On top of that I almost never eat out now and I’ve somehow lost all interest in drinking. My total weekly spend on food is paid for with just 1.5 hours of paid work per week!

    I have also developed a complete dislike of television since starting the potato diet. This very, very odd for me. I cannot explain this but that’s how it is.

    Oh, and I have finally managed to control my fapping since starting on potatoes too. I used to be addicted fapping at least twice a day and sometimes all day. Now it’s down to 3-4 times a month. I am going to try for a whole month of no fap. Pray for me people. I will need all Jesus’ power to achieve this mighty task.

  8. Waltermcc on April 14, 2016 at 05:48


    Again, nice article. I really need little or no butter when frying a pork steak, the Ribeye from another species.

    When babysitting my grandson on Monday, I steal a slice of thick bacon, but would never think about pouring out the grease. The sliced onion followed by the jumbo egg take care of it.

    I also steal some of my son’s salami from Sams, stabilized with nice chemicals, allowing him to keep it in the frig for more than two days. I think ‘better living through chemistry’ is the Dupont phrase I always liked. I am a chemist, so I admit to some bias.

  9. Hull on April 14, 2016 at 10:01

    So what about foods with naturally high amounts of fat to begin with: bacon, rib eye, avocados, whole coconut, goose liver, etc. You could cook a rib eye and end up with left over rendered fat to make into tallow…..but then it wouldn’t be whole anymore so?

    • Richard Nikoley on April 14, 2016 at 15:11

      It’s like Clifton Harski’s comment on a proto-version float of this post on Facebook.

      “Yea, just don’t be an asshole about it,” meaning yea, there’s fats, added fats, etc. just don’t be an asshole about it.

  10. Richard Nikoley on April 14, 2016 at 10:15

    Nice inputs everyone. Thanks you, and thanks for helping out. Always remember that I’m not the only one who reads your comments.

    • thhq1 on April 15, 2016 at 10:11

      In the world of fad diets putting butter in your coffee….well, it took it out of the cake anyway…

      But that doesn’t mean it takes the cake.

      None of these fads has fixed the obesity crisis. They get stricter and stricter as time goes on. Cordain’s Paleo is probably the simplest on the surface, but the hardest to comply with. At one puffed-chest moment he proclaims that there are less than 6000 aboriginals in the world still eating that way, and that you are joining an elite group. What you find out is that you are your own tribe of one, and why people don’t eat that way anymore on a regular basis.

      I pick and choose the bits of Paleo I like, and they’re not the same ones that the strict Paleo adherents actually do. I dig clams when I need them, pick berries and freeze them, walk and bike miles a day. Right now the smoker has finally made temperature, and I’m waiting on 20 lbs of meat to finish cooking before it goes back in the freezer ready to thaw and eat. Pit and hearth cooking are the very essence of 30,000 BC cooking and meat preservation. I’ll take correct method over correct grass-fed meat every time.

      Hope the neighbors don’t call the fire department. I think they’re all at work. I used to do this on a farm not in a neighborhood.

    • king of the one eyed people on April 18, 2016 at 03:37

      Without exception, this blog has some of the best comments out there. I have got at least as much, if not more, from the comments as I have from your blog.

  11. jed on April 14, 2016 at 19:35

    I found a way to consume potatoes that I like a lot. But you need a Foreman grill to do it.

    Cut any kind of potato you like sideways into 1/4″ discs and fill the grill. Pull down the lid and let it cook for 15-20 minutes then unplug the grill, rotate the discs 180 degrees and let it cook another five minutes. Then using your grass-fed butter, rub each disc lightly. This helps the salt to stick and because the slices are so thin, you really taste the butter. The best part is that you can butter the whole potato with only about a half teaspoon.

  12. Tracy on April 15, 2016 at 11:12

    Rack chips – amazing, but has left me wondering why, after being alive for 48 years, have I never thought of this before?! It’s because I automatically put fat in before I cook practically everything or if not before, then after, because, well just because!

  13. LeonRover on April 16, 2016 at 02:26

    My local meat counter has for the last year been selling pairs of scored full fat duck breasts prepped with a piquant sauce.

    I broil it on both sides until flesh is browned & skin is crisp – the inside remains somewhat pink.

    I usually save up t0 150 ml of tasty golden duck fat for use in frying etc.
    This is an extra whole fat, richer & more subtle than bacon fat, with the super advantage of NOT tasting of coconutty!



    P S Re: “tchew tchew”, mmmm, but variation “tchoo tchoo” c’estbeaucoup mieux; as in

    “You must take the “A” train
    To go to Sugar Hill, way up in Harlem.”

    Ella Fitzgerald – Take The “A” Train, but Teh Duke superb on sepia piano – followed by so hot Miles Davis.

    “Mieux que ca et les pretres seraient jaloux!”

    • thhq1 on April 16, 2016 at 05:44

      I buy ducks whole, strip off the breasts with skin to cook separately, and roast the rest of the carcass in the oven at 450F. This renders out about a cup of perfect duck fat, a bunch of crunchy skin to munch on, two well-cooked thigh/leg portions, and a lot of meat bits to pick for pan frys.

      One of the best uses for duck fat is frying potatoes….pommes de terre forestiere…

  14. James on April 18, 2016 at 05:29

    Libertarians and other paleo/primal inspired and anti government types might be a bit outraged by my common sense approach in acknowledging and supporting the current government healthy eating food plate. Even though it’s promoted by the big bad government, It’s still possibly the most sensible approaches to nutrition and has way more scientific backing compared to all of the paleo/primal gibberish that most of you have promoted over the last 7 or 8 years.

    Hell, from what I’ve seen from Richards blogs and a few other modern paleo inspired blogs, it’s basically slowly transformed into what the the government dietary guidelines are promoting.

    • LaFrite on April 18, 2016 at 05:42

      The plate itself looks fine. The “healthy” oils and “healthy protein” look highly questionable though. Nothing is healthy or unhealthy on its own based on macronutrients. What is really missing on that plate is HOW MUCH overall. When your appetite is screwed up and you can’t help eating a lot of foods until you feel sort of satisfied, no matter how much healthy oils / carbs / proteins you eat, this is not a good thing. This plate does not say: and avoid second servings, etc, etc.

      In terms of what to eat, you can eat anything and in order to cover most needs, a varied diet of whole foods most of the time will be the sensible choice for that very reason.

      That is the problem with guidelines of that kind, people totally misinterpret what they aim to say. And some people never saw whole grains at all, by the way ;)

    • Thhq on April 18, 2016 at 06:30

      The plate and its pyramidal predecessors are politically inspired, crafted and regularly rectified by generations of bureaucrats. The last version of the pyramid had become three dimensional with a stairway up the side. I guess that gave a person better access to the forbidden foods at the apex.

      The problem with these pedantic teaching tools is that no one follows them. They don’t contain the foods most people eat every day. Where are the chips? Where is the teppanyaki? How does thokku fit in? Where’s my small Sonic master blast? And when a person is happily eating those things the LAST thing on their mind is the pyramid. The church of food.

      It lacks the all-seeing eye. If it had this element of the 13th Floor Elevators and the dollar bill maybe people would pay attention and behave.

  15. Thhq on April 19, 2016 at 06:36

    The other night I watched The Misfits. Monroe, Gable and Clift act their hearts out in the desert, and within 5 years they were gone prematurely. But the crazy pilot and tow truck driver Eli Wallach wasn’t checking out early. He soldiered on until age 98.

    In 1998 LA Times printed this interview with him when he was in his 80’s.

    Fish and chicken, no dairy, cereal for breakfast, 20 minutes daily exercise, hips replaced. He asked the reporter why she cared what he ate. He considered acting to be the magic health elixir.

    Diet is important but having a purpose for living is more important.

  16. Rook on April 18, 2016 at 19:54

    Just thought I’d chime in with some (mostly) potato diet results. As of today, am down 8.9kg (19.6lbs) since February 26th. Haven’t been even close to 100% strict with this. Breakfast has been oats 80% of the time with a sprinkling of raisins or maple syrup. Lunch and dinner have been maybe 70% compliant. Lunch is usually potatoes but with a small amount of some condiment; vinegar, mint sauce, home made relishes are the staples. Have assumed the main mechanism is ultra low fat so am trying to stick to that. Dinners are largely just lunch plus a small amount of some meat.

    Weekends are ad libitum apart from sticking to my oats for breakfast. Has been effortless so far.

    I can’t recall who it was that was doing the oats + potatoes but if you’re reading, how are you going?

  17. golooraam on April 19, 2016 at 20:07

    ok Richard… I bit and took this post to heart…

    I did a 3 day potato hack which I emailed you the results of…
    then in a strange twist of fate, had to go to Paris on a day’s notice for an emergency

    was there for a week, immersed in rich food as I was going through a lot…

    came back and was like “oh crap I have to diet again, oh ya! I’ll just do potatoes!”

    cooked a bunch, cooled them… driving home I was like “no way I can just eat potatoes”…

    thought about this post and another one where I think you mentioned something about not needing as much animal protein… so I thought, ok, I’m going to make a dinner and not add any refined fat

    so I took a pound of those purple potatoes, cut them up and baked them with salt, took a half pound of freshly ground lamb and mixed with spices and topped with an egg yolk…

    by dinner’s end I counted a whopping 1100 calories, and I’m not even hungry! I realize in the past I would do this and would add 4 slices of bacon and at least 2-3 heaping tablespoons of tallow just to bake the taters

    I it was nice to have a balanced meal… I don’t use that term lightly… it just ‘felt’ right

  18. John on April 21, 2016 at 07:59

    In the 4 months I spent in Romania I ate a bunch of soups.

    They’re all “water broth” soups – meat, veggies, etc. Minimal added fat while cooking. Cabbage soup was one of my favorites. The homes I went to generally had a large pot of soup in the fridge – everyone I visited would offer to take out the soup and heat it up, like a standard welcome.

    One thing they do is have something like sour cream (smântână) on the table to spoon into the soup as you like. Smântână is a staple – and the stores have so many choices based on butterfat content I wondered how they know which one to buy. Some places had so many choices it was like a buffet line with nothing but smântână.

  19. Andrew H on April 22, 2016 at 07:31

    I’m glad to see that there are others who think in terms of ‘whole fats’ – I’ve long held this view and practice. While I personally eat a lower carb higher fat diet, I am not a fan of consuming added fats, using at most a teaspoon for certain stovetop recipes involving lean cuts with essentially no fats of their own. My preferred method for dishes involving ground meat is to first brown the meat in a dry cast iron skillet, then cook the other components in the ground meat’s fat. Depending on how long the other ingredients take to cook I may remove the ground meat to a separate bowl after initial browning. This way I get a great sear on the meat while not having to use any added fats.

  20. pzo on May 11, 2016 at 06:39

    When I’ve tried a high fat diet, meaning 65%+ of calories from fats, I am hungrier than when I reduce the lipids and increase protein. Also discovered that it’s really, really hard to reach 65% w/o mainlining coconut oil.

    So, high fat sounds good in theory, but difficult in practice. At least for me. Way too easy to eat more calories than I want to.

  21. Mandi Pimental on May 23, 2016 at 13:52


    Great content, I am an editor for a Paleo magazine and would love to talk to you about featuring this piece in an up-coming issue as well as promoting your book. I could not locate a Contact Me section on your website. If interested in speaking, please contact me at your earliest convenience. Thank you! Have a wonderful day.

    • Richard Nikoley on May 23, 2016 at 15:33

      Sure Mandi. My pleasure.

      I just emailed you to work out any details. I’ll also be at Paleo FX later this week.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.