Healthy Cooking Oils
All oils are NOT created equal! Health starts when we get educated about what we put into our body & how it affects it. As a holistic nutritionist and chef, Tara urges her clients to get to know the ins and outs of healthy fats and how to properly cook with them.
Yes we love oils and fats because they add flavor to our cooking, but we should also appreciate them because they're extremely nourishing. We NEED fat to function-- our brains and inner-workings of our bodies excel and flourish with healthy fats. In fact, a healthy GLOW and complexion comes when you're eating the right fats and nutrients. But, we must be mindful of the fact that when fats & oils are heated, they can become quite carcinogenic (poisonous) and problematic in our bodies.
Every oil has a smoke-point-- temperature at which enough volatile compounds emerge from the oil that clouds of smoke become clearly visible. At this temperature, volatile compounds, such as water, free fatty acids, and short-chain degradation products of oxidation, come up from the oil. The smoke-point is the temperature at which the oil is decomposed and where possibly toxicological & carcinogenic compounds are formed. So, the goal is to stay within the oils smoke-point to avoid carcinogenic reactions from forming.
Here's the lowdown on the healthiest 5 oils to cook with, and the best specific uses of them:
1. Ghee // Clarified Butter-- Ghee is butter that has the milk solids removed. You'll often see it in Ayurvedic cooking and French cooking. Think of ghee as very nourishing and lubricating to the brain and body. Opt for organic, and Amish raw ghee if possible
Use in: Baking, sautéing, grilling in place of regular butter. Great for sautéing with spices, coating rices & grains in cooking, searing fish and meats
2. Avocado Oil-- Look for avocado oil that is organic and cold-pressed. This oil is a fantastic stable oil with great flavor and a high smoking point. Because of it's flavor, this oil is better suited for savory creations, like frittatas, roasted vegetables, and herbed-baked breads
Use in: Baking, sautéing, grilling in high-heat preparations. Also use in salads for delicious flavor, mostly in savory preparations
3. Coconut Oil-- Coconut oil is a nourishing oil that has loads of uses & is filled with essential fatty acids and medicinal properties. There is a slight taste of coconut, which for some people is hard to notice, so this oil is quite versatile. It's perfect for any type of cooking, except for salad dressings, really. The smokepoint of coconut oil is 350 degrees, which is quite high on the spectrum. Opt for organic, virgin, unrefined coconut oil. At room temperature coconut oil will become solid, so you will need to melt it to better manipulate it in cooking.
Use in: Baking, sautéing, frying, and any high-heat cooking. You can use in sweet and savory preparations, perfect recipes like banana bread, roasted root vegetables, and much more
4. Sesame Seed Oil-- Sesame oil has an incredible nutty flavor. Cold-pressed organic sesame oil is great because it has a high smokepoint and adds a toasty flavor to your dishes. It comes straight from sesame seeds, which adds nutrient dense flavor
Use in: Sautéing, frying, and any high-heat savory cooking. Great in salads as well, perfect for Asian-inspired dishes
5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil-- Organic, cold-pressed and unrefined extra virgin olive oil is the way to go. The best use for this oil is in colder preparations, because the smokepoint of this oil is on the low end of the spectrum. You can infuse fantastic flavors into olive oil, such as garlic, basil, and orange.
Use in: Light sautées, cold preparations such as salads, marinades, and drizzles. Super versatile uses
Let us know your favorite ways to use these oils in your cooking. For more health tips and ingredient-driven questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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Photography by: Sasha Young