If my Real Foods journey and Green Smoothie Challenge taught me anything, it is to experiment and experiment freqently. It opened my eyes up to new foods, new flavors, and great health benefits. Just because the 30 Day challenge is over doesn’t mean my journey stops, the road winds around and the pathway changes.
Am I still smoothie-making day in and day out? No. But, they are still part of a healthier lifestyle.
Do I only eat “real” foods? No. Not solely, but I am far more educated on “real” and not real and am consistently making better choices, cooking with more real ingredients, and eating more real foods.
I wanted to share with you some cooking oils that have found its way onto my pantry shelves and into my foods. By using an assortment of oils in your cooking, you will be further exposed to the health benefits of a wide-range of healthy fats, heart benefits, antioxidants, and some illness and disease-fighting nutrients. Open yourself up to more!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive Oil will forever hold my heart. It remains my go-to cooking oil for most any culinary ventures.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Or EVOO as Rachel Ray has coined) is made by cold-pressing bright and briny Mediteranean olives for maximum flavor. It’s perfect for sauteeing veggies, mixing into a salad dressing or marinade for chicken, beef, or fish, and perfect drizzled over the top of grilled breads, hummus, or other fresh dish.
Olive Oil contains predominately heart-friendly levels of monounsaturated fats that aids in lowering bad cholesterol numbers and increasing good numbers. It is also high in an antioxidant called polyphenols (found naturally in olives, red wine, and green tea). Polyphenols clean up free radicals in your body before they are able to oxidize preventing damage to your arteries. Current research suggest about 2 tablespoons of this oil on a regular basis, even daily. So, let’s get to cooking!
Grapeseed Oil is a relative new-comer to my list of pantry staples. Grapeseed oil is extracted from the seeds of grapes… imagine that! It is an extremely versatile oil, light in both color and flavor, never overpowering. You can use it in everything from a dressing to a chocolate chip cookie! Yep, you heard me… chocolate chip cookies. Check out this recipe from one of my favorite food blogs Eat 2 Gather. Other great uses include caramelizing onions, roasting sweet potato fries, and because of its emulsive qualities, it works very well in dressings as it will not separate even when cold. I love that!
It is high in Vitamin E and a fat called oleic acid, this fat has been proven to cut stroke risk by as much as 73% according to some more recent neurological studies. Oleic adic has also been linked to curbing hunger pains as well.
Yippee for Grapeseed oil!
Pressed from the fruit of a coconut palm tree, coconut oil is literally a super fighter! It helps your body mount natural defenses and resistance to baceteria and viruses that can cause illness. It also helps fight off yeast, fungus, candida, and can have a positive affect on your hormone levels and blood-sugar levels.
But it can do so much more with the outside of your body too! Great for the skin, hair, and is even an anti-ager. It has extremely high levels of antioxidant-rich Vitamin E.
In cooking, coconut oil has a very high smoke point, so it is ideal for cooking at high temperatures– roasting, stir-frying, and can even be used as a dairy-free substitute for butter. It’s yummy spread on your morning toast! In addition, when I looked up other “crazy” uses for coconut oil, I found out it is a natural eye make-up remover, a safe diaper-cream, an SPF 4 sunscreen, and cna prevent stretch marks during pregnancy.
Looks like there are quite a few reasons to keep a jar of this in your pantry!
Besides the fact that it tastes great, is nutty in flavor, and has a great deep-golden hue, sesame oil is the nutrient-rich oil from toasted and crushed sesame seeds. While it is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is high in Vitamin E and has been proven to help control blood pressure. It is also full of other properties like magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, and Vitamin B6. These together help support vascular and respiratory health, help prevent colon cancer, osteoporosis, migraines, even PMS! Hip-hip-hooray for Sesame Oil!
Used mainly in Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine, it is great for deep frying and stir-frying of meats and vegetables. Also adds great flavor to marinades or dressings for that unmistakable toasted sesame flavor!
Put down the guacamole and pour on the avacado oil!
Wait?!? Don’t put down the guac… it’s yummy, and even better, avacadoes have amazing health benefits. So, keep on scooping!
But, the health benefits of the avacado is astounding, so why not use the oil?!? This “super fruit” can improve cholesterol numbers, contains high levels of luteins that can help improve eye health, and can aid your body in fat-absorption.
Of all the fruit oils, avacado oil has the highest smoke point sitting pretty at about 520 degrees, so this oil is great for any high-heat cooking such as grilling or roasting.
Not all oils are created equal, and they all have different uses and applications in your kitchen. Whole Foods says to keep these general rules in mind when selecting your oils…
For baking: Coconut, palm, canola and high oleic safflower and sunflower oil work best.
For frying: Because they stand up well to the heat, avocado, peanut, palm and sesame oil are ideal for frying.
For sautéing: Many oils are great for sautéing, including avocado, canola, coconut, grapeseed, olive, sesame and high oleic safflower and sunflower oils.
For dipping, dressings and marinades: When it comes to making dressings and marinades, or finding oil that’s perfect to serve alongside crusty bread for dipping, you’re looking for terrific flavor. For this purpose look to flax, olive, peanut, toasted sesame or walnut oil.
For more tips regarding oil usage, read more here.