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Seen At 11: Move Over Kale -- Animal Fat Takes Over As Newest Food Trend

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Move over kale, your 15 minutes of fame is up. Today's trendiest food -- is fat.

Lard and schmaltz are being smeared on bread, plopped on pizza, ladled on mash potatoes -- and experts say this "animal fat craze" may even be healthier for us.

"You can use lard for a wide variety of things," Jenny McCoy, a pastry chef instructor with the Institute of Culinary Education, told CBS2's Kristine Johnson. "Pie crusts and biscuits -- lard makes those absolutely excellent.

Lard and other animal fats, like schmaltz, are the latest "it" foods, now being used for everything from dressing toast to draping seafood.

"When you look at culinary trends, chefs start to find an ingredient that maybe they've been using for a long time. They start to really explore it, and the public kind of latches on," McCoy said.

But unlike some of lard's "it food" predecessors like quinoa and kale, lard's rise to fame may come as a bit of a surprise.

You may remember your grandmother recycling bacon drippings to use for baking and deep-frying. But in the early 20th century, cooking with saturated fats -- like pork fat and chicken fat -- became culinary taboo.

"It was just going to go ahead and clog your arteries," said Nicolette Pace, a registered dietitian.

Lard had lost its luster, replaced instead with unsaturated fats such as like vegetable oils.

"These present a far greater risk to our health," Pace said.

Indeed, according to Pace, dozens of new studies show saturated animal fats are actually the healthier option, helping to put them back on the menu today.

"I think it's absolutely wonderful that we're going back to that," Pace said.

At Sammy's Roumanian Steakhouse on the Lower East Side, it comes as no surprise that cooking with animal fat is back in fashion.

"Years ago all the old Jewish mommies and daddies, they had a little chicken fat on their tables -- and we're old school," said Terry Luchs, the manager of Sammy's.

Luchs says the Manhattan institution puts chicken fat -- or schmaltz, as it's known -- on just about everything.

"It's schmaltzy. It goes great on mashed potatoes; on rye bread. Everybody gets it," Luchs said.

While they are considered a "good" fat, this does not mean that animal fats are a health food. Experts say they are still high in calories and need to be eaten in moderation.

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