4.2018

Zion Nat'l Park, Columbine

What Oils Do You Have in Your Kitchen?

Twice this week I have been asked “what are the best oils to use for cooking?”, prompting me to share my response with you, devoted reader of HeartMatters News and with the great wide world…

My pantry contains olive oil as my go-to oil for almost all cooking, and coconut oil for baking or any time I crave a rich, flavorful fat. In addition, I keep sesame and peanut oil on hand for a tempeh saute or a Thai dinner.

This disclosure may startle you–after all, isn’t olive oil meant for moderate temperatures and isn’t coconut oil a–gasp!–saturated fat? Yes and Yes. And they are both marvelously healthy, delicious and versatile.

What’s more important to know about what type of oils to keep in your kitchen is in regards to the cultivation: are the plant seeds GMO; is Hexane or a similar toxic chemical used to extract the oil; and are preservatives added to extend shelf-life?

Most commercial oils are routinely derived from Genetically Modified seeds, including soy, canola, sunflower, corn, safflower and other oils. The good news is that there are several companies that produce these oils from non-GMO seeds/plants. I would like to invite you to avoid GMO foods — they are associated with disease and with environmental concerns, not to mention the unconscionable practices of the Ag Industry giant Monsanto, but hey, don’t get me going on that…

Expeller-pressed oil means the oil has been extracted from the seed using the natural process of pressing (squishing) the seeds to press out the oils. About 70% of the oil is able to be extracted using this healthful method. Most commercial oil producers, however, use a nasty petroleum product called Hexane to remove oil; the hexane binds with the oil, pulling nearly 100% of the oil from the seed. AND-get this-since Hexane eventually evaporates, the FDA does not require those companies using this frightening technique to label Hexane as an ingredient. I don’t know about you, but I’ll skip the petroleum in my food oil, thank you very much. This does mean that expeller-pressed oils will cost more, and may I point to this as a perfect example of when investing your food dollar in your own health is wise investment.

Most commercial oil producers add a preservative at the end of processing to extend the shelf life of the product as well as to increase its stability with higher cooking temperatures. First of all, oil is not meant to be stored indefinitely. May I suggest that you consider purchasing a container size will be emptied within a few weeks? The local co-op at which I shop has larger bins of oils that can be accessed to refill those smaller bottles so that your supply at home is always fresh. In regards to the temperature consideration, I simply cook at lower heat to avoid the concern for reaching the smoking-point.

The bottom line is that organic oils will be non-GMO and have no BHT or BHA added to extend shelf-life. A good quality oil is a worthwhile purchase, can be used in small amounts for flavorful cooking, and will provide rich sources of plant micro-nutrients and healthful fats. Enjoy!

A Spring Cooking Class

A yummy welcome to Spring! Join Wendy and me at In The Kitchen for an engaging, satisfying, and informative evening. You’ll have fun assisting in the meal preparation, while learning how to eat well without spending hours in your own kitchen! Register by phone at (530) 478-0669, or online at either info@wendyvanwagner.com, or  at www.wendyvanwagner.com (from the classes page, scroll down to 3.23.12). I am looking forward to seeing you there!

"After thirty years of eating healthy foods and participating in regular, vigorous exercise, I was astounded to discover I have Coronary Artery Disease. In March of 2010, I had two stents placed in my Left Anterior Descending Artery- this was big. I consulted Robin Mallery, RN, knowing she is a local expert on Cardiac Rehabilitation. I especially respected her lifestyle of nutrition and physical fitness. Robin’s reassurance that I was doing many things correctly, and her instructions on how to fine-tune my program to deal with this life-threatening disease, was invaluable. Robin’s exquisite grasp of balancing traditional medicine with diet, exercise, relaxation and fun has helped me through this medical crisis". --Maiya Gralia, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and cross-country ski instructor and coach

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