Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cooking Oils….get the DL…

Why are there so many different types of oils? And which oils are best for your health and taste buds?? How do different oils vary?

Well besides where the oils come from, which is obvious by the label; here’s what defines them:

1. Smoke point: this is the temperature when the oil begins to smoke. When the oil starts smoking it begins to break down and loses it’s nutritional components. Here’s some good stuff to go by:
  • Oils great for high heat cooking (searing or frying):
          -Grapeseed oil: 420
          -Refined sunflower oil: 450
          -Olive oil, virgin: 420
          -Coconut oil, refined: 450
          -Canola oil, expeller press: 464
          -Avocado oil: 520
          -Almond oil: 420
          -Corn oil, refined: 450
          -Hazelnut oil: 430
          -Macadamia oil: 413
          -Sunflower oil, refined: 450
          -Peanut oil, refined: 450
  • Oils great for light stir-frying:
          -Olive oil, extra virgin: 375
          -Unrefined walnut oil: 320
          -Coconut oil, unrefined: 350
          -Corn oil, unrefined: 320
          -Peanut oil, unrefined: 320
          -Sunflower oil, unrefined: 225
          -Walnut oil, unrefined: 320

2. Refined/ Unrefined: unrefined oils have not been changed and still contains all pre-existing     nutritional facts. Unrefined oils also have a much lower smoke point than refined.

3. Extraction methods: oils originate either from a seed or a plant. Conventional oils are extracted thru a chemical process. Natural oils are expeller pressed or cold pressed (NO CHEMICALS!).

It is important to have various oils in your home; for different preparations and flavors. Here are a few examples:

1. Olive oil: a great all purpose cooking oil, with a smoke point of 375 (extra virgin) or 420 (virgin). Olive oil is also great to use as a salad dressing or a dipping oil (balsamic and olive oil).

2. Sesame oil: great for stir fries and baking vegetables….the full nut flavor adds a punch to your veggies!

3. Coconut oil: this oil has a high smoke point and a long shelf life. This oil is a great replacement for butter in baking. It can also be used for those Thai inspired stir frys. Refined coconut oil is great for roasting and frying.

4. Walnut oil: strong nutty flavor and full of omega-3 fatty acids. This oil can be used for high heat cooking, but does loose that strong nutty flavor so be sure to try it as a finishing oil for salads, soups, grains, or pasta.

5. Grapeseed oil: is very light and clean with a high smoke point. This can be used for a variety of cooking since it doesn’t have much flavor.

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