Wednesday, October 26, 2011

31 Days to a Cleaner Diet {17}: Fats and Oils

Mmmmmm what an appetizing post title, right?  lol


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{Click here to see the other posts in this series.}

This post is going to be sorta bogus because I started half of this post this afternoon, when I had all sorts of nervous pent-up energy over our social worker coming to our house to discuss foster-care adoption.  I was typing up a storm.  The meeting went really well (tons more on that later), but I didn’t finish earlier and now it’s 10:37 and my head is about to hit the desk (yes, I’m 105 years old) and so what you’re gonna get is a way-too-short overview on what kind of cooking oil and fats to use that really shouldn’t count as an overview at all because it doesn’t do any of the topic justice and WOW I am tired.  Bear with me because only half of this was written when I was coherent and now I’ll be adding to it a little to help it make more sense, even though I shouldn’t be adding more in this state of mind.

Apparently I type very long, wordy sentences when I am tired?!  Also, I have no pictures because my camera died today and in all the excitement of the social worker coming I totally spaced on charging my battery.  Sorry.


When we talked about dairy and eggs, I told you a good keyword to look for was “pasteurized.”  Well when it comes to fats (specifically oils), some very important words to look for are “expeller-pressed” or “cold-pressed.”  The words are interchangeable so I’ll just be using the phrase “cold-pressed” here for the sake of typing.  These are your “golden ticket” phrases to look for when shopping. 

If an oil is NOT cold-pressed, it means that the oil has been extracted at high heat using a chemical called hexane, which is a by-product of petroleum.   Hexane is toxic, but it is routinely used in oil production because it is cheaper and faster than cold-pressing (literally squeezing the oils out, rather than extracting them).  Lovely, right?!

Additionally, you also need to be super careful about the oils you buy because odds are that most of the veggie oils in the supermarket are genetically modified (corn oil, canola oil, and cottonseed oil can all fall under this category). 

Canola oil is really and truly not a good choice for you, although we’ve been led to believe that it is!  Saturated fats have been made out to be the enemy, but reality is that saturated fats break down much more slowly over heat (aka they are more “heat-stable”), so in reality they’re actually a better choice for you than a lot of unsaturated oils. 

Hear this: healthy fats are desperately needed by your body!  You don’t need to fear them, if you’re eating the right kinds.  Fats are nourishing and help your body complete countless functions each day.  You absolutely cannot survive and thrive without real, natural fats in your life. 

Oh and one more “hear this:”  margarine is really really really really really really reallllllllllllllllllllllly bad for you.  I have read about the processes they use to make margarine….believe me, it’s not something you want to put in your body.  Please don’t buy it!  (Butter tastes 1,000 times better anyway!)

Let’s keep going…

Every oil/cooking fat has something called a “flashpoint.”  The flashpoint is the point at which an oil can stand the heat – after that, it becomes carcinogenic (aka BAD for you).  Every oil’s flashpoint temperature is a little different, which is why certain oils should be heated and certain oils are much healthier for you when eaten cold.  I can’t possibly list every oil’s flashpoint here, so do a little research online to your favorite cooking oil and see where it lines up!

For more in-depth discussion of fats and oils, I definitely recommend Nina Planck’s book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why.  She has a great section that discusses this all in detail – I was planning to use many of her quotes that I typed up in this post…that is until our computer went up in smoke.    lol

Honestly, there is so much to say about fats and cooking that it really needs a more detailed post (and I will probably type out a second post in the future about it). 

For now, here’s what I personally use (but remember that I am learning all the time, as well!):

  • Butter *I hope to start using organic butter soon* (baking, sautéing)
  • Unrefined, extra-virgin, cold-pressed organic coconut oil (baking, occasional sautéing)
  • Expeller-pressed grapeseed oil (baking, sautéing, roasting)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (dressings, some sautéing)

I absolutely do NOT use any vegetable or canola oil *except* for the one bottle I keep in my house for the times when I have to make something for a family or church event and don’t want to use my expensive oils on that. 

Actually, I just realized that I do use canola oil pan spray sometimes for muffin tins/baking pans because it is SO much faster than personally oiling down each tin with butter (especially when you make as many mini muffins as I do!).  I would like to get one of those oil spritzers so I can use grapeseed oil instead of the canola spray. 

Again, there are about 20,874 more things that could be said about this…..but right now all I can think about is sleeeeeeeeeep. 


Goodnight!  And remember, fat is your friend. ;) Isn’t that a lovely thought?!


  1. I would just like to let you know that for the last four days I have had your "voice" in the back of my head each morning (and let's be honest most afternoons) when making my coffee and used sugar instead of splenda :-)

  2. hahahaha love it! you're not the first person to tell me that. i don't know if whether i should feel happy or sorry for you guys...but regardless, it's working! lol

  3. Fat is my friend...I LOVE the way you roll sister!!!!

    Isn't margarine a little like eating plastic!??

  4. Oh, hallelujah!! Some sensible words on fat! Such a rarity in these times of "expert" advice for losing weight "Eat low fat, avoid butter...blah, blah, blah" If "low fat" diets worked, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be in the middle of an obesity epidemic...

  5. We've been working on eating cleaner and making better food choices. Lots of interesting information in this post...Thanks. I have a couple of questions though.

    Are they overpowering or do they change the taste of your foods?

    Do you have a favorite olive oil brand? I tried making some italian dressing recently and we were thrilled with the oil taste in it.

  6. Hey Jessica, Instead of using the spray oil, get yourself a "Misto" You can find them for 8 dollars...I got mine for 10 bucks on Amazon. It is a spray mister that you can put your own oils in. Its Great!


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