Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Slick Stuff

Oil is pretty slick stuff.  The right oils can actually boost our health, while the wrong oils, according to doctors, can do more harm than we know.

I mentioned a couple of months ago that I had been watching a lot of YouTube videos.  With the threat of a virulent virus hanging over our heads, it should be no surprise that some of the videos I've been watching are health-related.

One thing that all the doctors I watched seem to agree on is that our first and best line of defense for any virus is our own immune system.  Until we get that optimized, we will always be vulnerable to any virus lurking in the environment.  And the first step in boosting our immunity is to address what we're eating.

Healthy eating habits will do more to improve our overall health and immune response than just about anything.  Choosing nutrient-rich foods over empty calories, and unhealthy items that tax our systems, is the best way to prevent illness and disease.

More and more, health experts have been warning us that some oils we're ingesting are really not good for us at all.  Some even call them toxic!  Yet these are oils that I'll bet many of us have been using all our lives for cooking or grilling or dressings, and are found in the ingredient lists of many of the packaged products we buy, as well.  The oils they're warning about are highly refined, highly processed oils.

What does a highly refined or highly processed oil mean?  It means that chemicals which may be harmful to us are used to neutralize, deodorize, and de-gum the oil, in order to make it palatable and usable.  The oils may been treated with acid, alkalized, or bleached during processing.

Bad Oils:

So, which oils are highly processed?  The ones they want us to avoid are:
  • Canola (rapeseed or mustard seed oil)
  • Soybean oil
  • Cottonseed oil
Hydrogenated fats, which are oils solidified through hydrogenation, and trans fats:
  • Margarine or shortening
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Peanut oil
There go most of the chips I purchase!  Look for chips fried in coconut, avocado or olive oil, instead.

All fats and oils are some combination of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Saturated Oils are solid at room temperature, do not go rancid very easily, and have a high smoke point.   Saturated fats are usually animal fats or tropical oils, such as coconut oil.

Monounsaturated Oils are liquid at room temperature, do not go rancid easily, and have a moderate smoke point.

Polyunsaturated Oils are always liquid, go rancid easily, and are relatively unstable at high heat or when exposed to light.  These are oils you should never heat or use in cooking.  They may contain both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, such as found in fatty fish.

In the old days, and by that I mean a few years ago, we were told to avoid saturated fats.  Now some of those very saturated oils are being touted for their health benefits, especially coconut oil, which is the preferred cooking oil of the wellness industry.

Good Oils:

Good Saturated Oils:
  • Coconut oil
  • Chicken fat
  • Duck fat
  • Beef fat (tallow)
  • Butter from grass-fed cows (such as Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter)
  • Ghee from grass-fed cows
Good Monounsaturated Oils:
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Algae oil
  • Pork fat (lard)
Good Polyunsaturated Oils:  Always buy cold-pressed or expeller-pressed oils in dark containers.
  • Seed oils
  • Whole flax seed oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Sesame seed oil
  • Nut oils
  • Walnut oil
  • Almond oil

So, which oil should you use?  It depends upon what you're doing with it.

In general, for frying and sauteing, you'll want to use an oil with a high-smoke point and a neutral flavor.

The new kid on the block is Algae Oil, and it is the best choice for you heart.  Algae oil is made from specific marine algae, and like fish oil, is an excellent source of heart-healthy Omega-3 and Omega-9 fatty acids.  These fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, improve blood lipid levels, and improve brain function.  Algae oil is flavorless and has a high smoke point, so it is an excellent oil for frying and sauteing.

Avocado Oil has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, which means it won't burn at high heat.  It raises good cholesterol and lowers the bad cholesterol.

When you want to add flavor, use olive or nut or sesame seed oil to impart their essence.  You can also steep herbs and/or garlic to your favorite olive oil to infuse garlic flavor into your dishes, your roasted vegetables, salad dressings, marinades, or for dipping.

Virgin, cold-pressed Coconut Oil

Ghee, which is clarified butter, is high in CLA if from grass-fed cows.

How to use different oils: Neutral oils like grapeseed, canola, etc., and those that add flavor.  In cooking and in salads and as a topping (on black beans, etc.) and for dipping breads, etc.

Walnut Oil has a lovely, rich flavor that enhances the taste of many dishes, but you must use caution not to overpower your dish with it.  Heat can alters this oil's flavor, so it is best to use it unheated in cold dishes or added after cooking.  Use it drizzled over vegetables, mixed into a vinaigrette, or even paired with fruit like brushed on sliced pears sprinkled with parmesan.  It should be kept stored in the refrigerator.

Coconut Oil is extremely popular these days, due to its apparent health benefits.  From health to beauty to food, Coconut oil is versatile and delicious.  Coconut oil is a solid saturated fat which quickly melts into oil, just like butter, but is dairy-free.  It has a subtle, delicious flavor that adds that little touch of coconut to everything.  Try it in baking, on vegetables and in curries, even smoothies, coffee or hot chocolate for richness or the keto diet.

Flax Seed Oil is also esteemed for its healthful qualities.  It is rich in Omega-3s, which is good for heart health

It's a rich source of omega-3s -- essential fatty

acids often linked to hearth health.  Like walnut oil, it should not be

heated.  It's best used as a nutritional supplement.  Include it in

vinaigrettes, mix it into condiments like mayonnaise or ketchup, or add a

tablespoon to smoothies and shakes for a nutrient boost.  Peanut oil is

derived from pressing peanuts, which despite their name, are actually legumes

and not nuts.  The refined oil has a high smoke point and a neutral flavor. 

The oil's ability to reach very high temperatures can mean that foods cooked

in it absorb less oil.  This oil is especially well-suited for frying and wok

cooking, which require quick sessions over intense heat.  The nutty taste of

unrefined or roasted peanut oil adds depth to salad dressings an marinades. 

Olive oil.  Regular olive oil is made from a blend of both processed and

cold-pressed olives, while extra-virgin olive oil is made from cold-pressed

olives only, giving it a more delicate, floral flavor.  Olive oil is perfectly

suited for cooking and sauteing.  In contrast, extra-virgin olive oil is best

used in salad dressings or as a finishing touch, drizzled over breads, roasted

vegetables and soups.  Sesame oil is available in at least two distinct

varieties.  While the refined version is better suited for heat-intensive

cooking, it's the unrefined version that can lend intense flavor to dishes. 

The unrefined oil is great in dressings or as a finishing oil.  Try the

toasted variety -- sparingly, a little goes a long way -- for searing salmon,

sauteeing green beans or adding layers of flavor to Asian-inspired dishes.) 




Beef Tallow
Duck Fat (duck fat fries)


Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Men's Favorites
The care-and-feeding of hungry men is always a priority ... especially on Father's Day!
Happy 4th of July!
Honoring our Independence, our freedom, and the men and women who serve!
Outdoor Spaces
Bringing the indoors outside is just how we want to live in the summertime.
Summer Entertaining ...
the perfect way to entertain.
Camp Summertime!
a.k.a. What did you do during your summer vacation?
The Soundtracks of Summer
What music will be playing through your head this summer to get you into vacation-mode?
Fruit-Infused Waters
Well beyond lemon, refreshing flavored waters for summer
Sunshine In A Jar
Preserved lemons are a game-changer!
Fruit-Picking Season
There's nothing quite as satisfying as growing your own food
The Fruits of Summer
There's fruit in my salad!
Family Heritage Tour
A trip back to the old country in search of the abuelos
Ice Cream Socials
We all scream for ice cream! 
The Buzz About Bees
Bees are precious, industrious and endangered.  We can do our part to make sure we don't lose these amazing creatures.
Get Jiggly With It!
Make every summer party a whole lot more fun with these colorful & spirited shots!
One-of-a-Kind Design
Create your own fabric, gift wrap and wallpaper to take custom designs to a whole new level.
Herb Harvest
There's nothing like growing your own fresh herbs!
Cooking with Herbs
Herbs are making a tasty appearance in some of your favorite desserts!
Food Porn
It has become a national obsession ... we're salivating over food and all the food shows on tv
The Icing on the Cake
Does a bakery really need to make frosted layer cakes?
What's Your Favorite Cake?
If only I could pick just one!
Ana's non-profit, Healing Warriors Program, gives away a state-of-the-art electric wheelchair!
Congrats, HWP!
Healing Warriors Programreceived a huge honor, and we were invited to the Pentagon to see it!
Taking Care of Those Who Serve The suicide rate among our Veterans is tragically sky high.  We can do something about that. Donate if you can!
Healing Warriors Program,
my sister's nonprofit, does very important work for our service members' complete health and wellbeing.

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